You’ve spent hours closely reviewing design and functionality details and your new website is officially up and running. You’ve triple checked everything to make sure it runs just the way you want it and you couldn’t be more excited to have an up-to-date, donation-processing digital home for your organization.
So now what? Let’s think of your website like a car. Your set of wheels needs a mechanic’s attention every so often and your website will also need the same T.L.C. Here is a list of the most important items to stay on top of when it comes to your website maintenance so that your site can continue fundraising for you.
Assigning a Site Mechanic
First thing’s first, you need to assign someone the role of managing the new website . Assigning responsibility to one person ensures that there is no confusion and , makes sure that your recent investment remains a priority and never slips through the cracks. Ideally, this person will manage content, written and visual, to make sure that the information on your site is regularly updated and visually appealing.
Lots of organizations look to their communications person or team for their expertise on this, but anyone familiar with your organization’s day-to-day will work great for content updates. When it comes to more backend and technical to-do’s, having a second tech-savvy person, ideally a developer, around is key. If you don’t have anyone on your team who has this skill set there are other options. Most web design agencies offer website maintenance plans to help with this or are available on a per-request basis to assist you.
If you’re launching a new website, then chances are that it’s been made in WordPress. WordPress is one of the most user-friendly content management systems (CMS) and has regular updates like all technologies do. Each update includes more advanced security settings and overall site performance so these are important to keep up with.
When update time rolls around, you’re going to want to call a developer. These updates aren’t always compatible with other features and plugins included on your site. So you need to be sure that there is someone with the proper know-how to catch any glitches and avoid bigger headaches. If you are confused by any aspect of the update process, call an expert. Trust us, it is worth a little extra cash to ensure that your site is updated properly.
Hosting & Domain Upkeep
Every website requires housing , and this is where your hosting provider, or server, comes into play. Think of your hosting as the garage for your car and your domain as the name that goes on your reserved parking spot.
These two things are generally purchased through the same company but can also be purchased separately if needed. Your hosting, once set up, won’t require too much attention. However, your provider is the one to call for site backups (we’ll talk more about this next!) and any site loading issues. If you have a good hosting provider, you shouldn’t have to get in contact with them too often.
If you’re going to remember one thing from this article, it should be the importance of site backups. Your hosting provider can make these backups for you, or you can use a website plugin that also allow you to save a backup directly on your computer like All-in-One WP Migration. A site backup is a mirror copy of your site at the moment it is taken. If anything does go wrong, these backups can be restored and get your site back to normal.
We recommend doing at least one per month so that all of your content changes are up-to-date in the backup. If your organization makes very regular content changes, then we recommend doing two or more a month to ensure all of your form entries and content updates are included. This will save you time from having to re-update text and images since you are essentially reverting to a previous version of your site.
Incidentals isn’t a word that anyone likes, but it is a reality when we look to maintain something long term. We don’t always expect to find out that our car is leaking oil, but it is an urgent matter to fix relatively quickly. Your website is no different.
Maybe there was a piece of code that was accidentally deleted and you’re not sure how to replace it. Perhaps you fell prey to malware or spam that needs to be removed. Having someone who can handle this quickly and accurately is essential. For these cases, the best solution is to contact your web developer or you on-staff IT person to make sure the proper solution is found.
Your website is your most important tool in giving communities the information they need and is essential for your organization to remain relevant in a digital age. It’s something that takes time and detail to properly complete and needs to be maintained for any sort of longevity. Keep all of these tips in mind as you navigate website maintenance!
Kyle McClure is the Growth & Partnerships Manager at Elevation, a full-service nonprofit web design agency. Kyle, a born and raised Pittsburgher, started in the nonprofit world during college when he interned for some of the Burgh’s favorite performing arts organizations. He began at Elevation as a project manager in 2016 with experience ranging from customer and donor relations to PR & marketing. A culture junkie, you can find Kyle planning trips, trying new restaurants, and searching for shows.