Any business that does not have a website in 2017 is doing itself a disservice.
The entire world runs along the internet and ignoring that could mean a struggle for your own business.
Your website is easily the most valuable tool in your marketing arsenal. A place to tell your story, showcase and sell your products or services, and even build your community.
Knowing all of this there are still businesses that do not value their website.
Since what we do all day every day is build and support them, we wanted to make a list of some key areas you should be considering when thinking about the health and protection of your website.
Your websites speed and security begins with the servers that are hosting the files and database.
There are more hosting companies available now than ever before, so how do you navigate that?
One of the easiest ways to narrow down the list is finding out if and how they support the platform your website is built upon. Since we use a Content Management System called WordPress as the foundation for building great websites, our obvious first recommendations are based around companies that specialize in WordPress.
At the time of this writing, WordPress powers almost 30% of all websites online today.
Therefor almost every hosting company offers support for it, but do they specialize in it?
This market is growing quickly, but we currently use and recommend WP Engine, which was founded in 2010 and has been specializing since day 1.
We like them because their servers are extremely fast so our pages load quickly, and secure so our websites do not get hacked. They’ve spent a great deal of time to ensure their servers are optimized towards the way WordPress is designed to work.
The cost is a little higher than other run of the mill hosting companies but is offset by the level of service and support gained by using the specialist.
Software & Security Updates
No software is 100% secure from attackers and all software becomes more vulnerable over time if not updated regularly.
The most commonly hacked websites are those that have outdated software.
Both as a developer and an end user, by keeping your software up to date you are keeping your data safe and secure.
All content management systems have regular software and security updates.
What’s the difference?
Software updates look like adding new features, changing user interface, cleaning up functionality bugs, etc.
Security updates include anything that is fixed in order to keep others from accessing the platform maliciously. One of the problems with security updates is they often are available after someone already found a loop hole and attacked it, so it’s important to do these updates as soon as possible.
The most common updates available for WordPress are for the WordPress core files, Themes, and Plugins.
It’s our recommendation that updates are don’t on a monthly basis for low traffic websites, and weekly for higher traffic or ecommerce websites.
File and Database Backups
In the event that your website does become compromised it can be a painful experience to clean things up.
Many malicious attacks end up filtering so deep into your files that it’s almost impossible to find and remove every instance. The best way to combat this is reverting to a backup from before the attack, and then making the appropriate updates to keep it from happening again in the future.
With any content management system you’ll have a set of files and a database. The files look to the database for the information that needs to be presented. It’s important that you have a backup of each of these independently.
Most hosting companies worth their weight are doing this for you automatically. From our experience there are still many that do not. If you are paying a very low rate per month for your hosting now, it’s likely that you are not only sharing a server with other unsecured websites, but they are also not backing up your files or database.
We recommend backups for both file and database be done daily, as well before any Software or Security updates are made.
Strategy & Development Support
Beyond the more technical aspects of keeping your website healthy is ongoing marketing efforts and regular support.
Most websites today are dynamic in nature. New blog posts going up regularly, new functionality being added, etc.
If you run your own business it’s likely that you wear many hats. It’s also likely that you excel in some of those areas more than others. If marketing and website strategy is not your skill set, why would you try and take that on by yourself?
This is another opportunity for you to work with a specialist who lives and breathes those things.
Working with a trusted resource on your website strategy and additional development will help keep you on track as well as give you an experienced person or team to bounce ideas off.
Depending on the type of website you have, the strategy will be different. Some companies never need additional development once their website is live, instead they’ll blog regularly or add new pages for new features.
Others need ongoing development support to either clean up a mess a previous developer has created, or build new features to help automate their own business.
We keep coming back to the idea of working with a specialist, marketing strategy and website development is no different.
Website Care Plans
For the new year we are working on a new way to better support our customers with each of the things mentioned above.
To do that we are now offering Website Care Plans.
Now that we have a much clearer vision for what the most important parts of keeping your website up and running our, let’s quickly review what a website care plan looks like.
Premium hosting on the #1 WordPress hosting platform available. Your site will load fast and servers secured.
Daily backups of files and database up to 30 days back at any time. Even if it takes a few days for an issue to arise, we’ll have plenty of places to back up and take care of it.
Weekly and monthly updates for WordPress core files, Themes, and Plugins. Not only do we make the updates, we check to make sure the update didn’t break your site, and if it did, revert back to our most recent backup and start finding a fix to the problem.
Strategy calls and ongoing development where we help you identify and prioritize your needs, then address them through design, content, or new development.
If you would like to learn more about website care plans, please contact us today.