Sometimes I think that Murphy (of Murphy’s Law) works a lot of overtime. How many times has it happened to you that something fails right when you need it to work (like your furnace or your car)? Suddenly and urgently, you’re stuck. Everything needs upkeep for maximum performance – your house, your vehicle, your body. All of these things will keep going for a long time even without ANY attention but when problems strike, then you are good and stuck if you have ignored maintenance.
Websites are the same. I started building websites in 1998 and at that time, sites were pretty simple with few moving parts. Do you remember what sites looked like back then? (Type your favourite site URL into the Wayback Machine to see what it looked like in the past). But even then, they needed regular attention to keep up with evolving browsers and to make sure that they had no broken links. Over time, websites have become ever more complex and more moving parts means more parts that can break.
When was the last time that you thought about maintenance for your website?
A few things to keep an eye on:
- how does your site work in the latest browsers and latest mobile devices?
- are there any broken links on your site?
- is everything working as it should? perhaps you have some embedded media on your site (like a YouTube video or Twitter feed). From time to time, sites like Twitter update their embed code and may break your site without you knowing.
- what would happen if the site went down? Could you recover and quickly rebuild the site?
- is your site secure?
- has your site been blacklisted?
These are the types of questions I think about. And this is where maintenance makes a difference. Why not fix these issues before they become problems? Updates and upkeep made routinely, over time, keep the site working optimally. System Lifeline, that I regularly work with, takes this same proactive approach. Waiting until there’s a crisis, often when you really need the site to perform for you (like with a new product launch or service announcement), causes downtime and stress.
Making regular backups is the other part of this equation. Insurance is the analog in home maintenance. Just like with insurance, having a current, useable backup means you can recover even from the worst problems.
I’ve yet to find the fun in maintenance and backups. And there always seems to be something better to do, something more important on the to do list. That’s why maintenance tasks need to be as automatic as possible. I schedule and monitor these tasks so that you can move on to the activities that you really want to spend time on.
So… how fit is your site?