WordPress is the most flexible website platform and allows a developer to build an attractive on-brand site that works great on mobile devices and will grow along with the client’s business. The best part is that WordPress enables clients to update and publish their own site—perfect for blogging, content marketing and search engine visibility. However, this accessibility has a downside.
As I tell all my clients, websites need maintenance. Not just content changes and new blog posts, but technical TLC that allows a website to remain stable and perform well in the ever-changing Internet landscape. Over the years, I’ve noticed WordPress site owners often make these common avoidable mistakes with their website maintenance:
- Assuming the hosting provider is taking care of the website: This by far is the most common error – unless you have high-quality specialized WordPress-focused hosting, your web host is likely not doing WordPress and plugin updates—or daily backups that will keep your site secure and recoverable in case of a problem. This is especially true with conventional shared hosting plans (read: cheap). Understand that investment in hosting quality is critical for security, site speed and customer support. My go-to hosts are WP Engine and SiteGround. Other excellent choices are Kinsta and Flywheel.
- Uploading giant image files: I see this all the time when I take over the maintenance of a site that hasn’t had consistent webmaster support. Usually the client was never cautioned about taking downloaded stock photos or phone pictures and uploading them to the site for blog articles and accent images. These images, without downsampling, will be about 50-200 times the size they should be for use on a website. This adds up really fast and will dramatically slow down the load time of a page. Fortunately, it’s easy to downsample with online tools like PhotoUtils or Canva… or use an application such as Adobe Photoshop to get those images down to size before using them in a blog post or page.
- Overlooking the necessity for daily backups: A backup strategy is absolutely necessary…and your “economy” hosting plan is probably not doing it for you. Not only should you be backing up your site on the web server on at least a daily basis, you should have a copy of these backups at another location, such as Dropbox or Amazon S3. Disasters do happen and backups are your best insurance policy!
- Lack of security awareness: Often a client will have guest authors contribute to a blog, or have a team member make routine content changes, which require a user login to be created. When that user has “123456” as their password, trouble will quickly follow. Or, the WordPress installation was not hardened to help withstand risks such as malware and bot-driven brute force login attacks. Also, regular (at least weekly) malware scans should be done to detect trouble. In addition, SSL (https) is a requirement now, and there’s still a lot of sites out there without it.
- Thinking your VA, Marketing Coach or Office Manager is also a Webmaster. Stop expecting your team members to throw in webmaster skills along with all the other hats they are already wearing. No matter how smart and capable they are, they’ll burn up a lot of valuable time trying to “figure things out” when something needs to be done. Just don’t do this… it’s unfair to them and you’re really not saving money. On a side note, I always coach clients about how to update sites, but there’s just no way for me to impart many years of focused webmaster experience into a support call or email.
As I climb down from my soap box, 😊 keep in mind that your website is your base camp, the place to where the world will go first to learn more about you and your business. It’s mission-critical and it deserves to have the care and attention that you would pay toward all the other important aspects of your business!