Managing Website Content: How to Keep Your Website in Top Condition


Remember when your website was new. Remember how pleased you were. How proud you were. Do you still feel that way? If you do, great. If you don't, don't worry. Whether you do or don't, this article can help you. I will tell you how to maintain your website or return it to its former glory. I will show you the small things you can do to keep your website at its best. There is no need for major overhauls or hiring someone to restore it for you. Like a car, a website needs regular health checks. Do not fall into the complacency trap. It is easy for a website to fall into disrepair if not properly maintained. Read on and find out what you can do to keep your website in top condition.

What are the pillars of a healthy website?

Understanding what goes into keeping a website healthy is halfway to keeping it so. Charles Kettering, famed inventor and former head of research for General Motors, famously said, "A problem well-stated is half-solved". With that in mind, let's outline what we need to consider to maintain a high-quality website:

Below, I will take a deeper look into each of these subjects. I will offer you easy, practical ways to stay on top of each and keep your website in mint condition.

How do you maintain website speed and performance?

Web page speed comes down to two main things: the complexity of the code needed to run it and the download size of the page content.

On most websites, we are used to seeing a lot of media content. Images, videos, and audio files all require downloading to a user's device before they can see it on a web page. More media files means a longer download time and a slower web page. Your goal should be to make your media content as light as possible without sacrificing quality. Tools like TinyPNG and Squoosh are great for compressing images to reduce their file weight. Handbrake is a free tool for compressing and optimising videos for use on the web. Another technique for reducing page load speeds is "lazy-loading". When a file is "lazy-loaded", it waits until after the page has finished loading to start its download. If it is off-screen it will wait until the visible content has finished downloading before it begins. This means that a fraction of the total file weight of a page dowloads initially, leading to a faster initial load time. Most platforms will offer a method of implementing this in your site.

Websites built using platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace and Shopify often rely on plugins for many of their features. Plugins enable people to use complex features to a site without write any code. Multiple plugins on the same web page will add to the complexity of the page's code which extends the computation time of the code. Imagine doing multiple math problems in your head at the same time, it might take a while for you to get an answer for each one. Having multiple plugins, your device has to compute all their code separately which causes it to slow down. If you want to reduce this time taken, try to limit the amount of plugins on a page. That means being selective about the plugins you use. Secondly, keep every plugin you use as up-to-date as possible. Using the latest, most efficient code will make the plugins and your page run as fast as possible.

How do you keep a website usable and accessible?

In this day and age, there is no reason a website should not be usable by anyone. Surprisingly, many people neglect it. Ensuring the usability and accessibility of your content is easy. Writing accessible website content comes down to making all your website content descriptive and follow a logical structure. When writing descriptive content, you have to put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn't have the visual context of the website. If you can still get an accurate picture of the content without being able to see it, you have accessible content. If you have images on your page, write descriptive alt text for them. Give a full description of the image subject matter and how it relates to the page. For example instead of writing, 'Picture of an apple next to a glass of cider', write something like, 'Picture of a fresh green apple with a drop of condensation dripping down it as it sits on a table on a sunny day next to a glowing pint of cider'. When writing descriptive text for links and buttons, make the text content explain what it does. For example, instead of writing 'Read more' for a link to a blog article, write 'Read the full article here'. Give the user a clear idea of where the link goes and what it does.

When writing your website content, always maintain a clear structure and flow. Approximately 14% of users use a screen reader to navigate a website. Screen readers rely on a clear structure in your content to navigate it properly. Most CMS platforms will create a good structure for the content you write, but there are things you can do. One key thing is understanding headings. In HTML, there are six heading levels. Use one top-level heading (H1) per page for the main title. For each section and subsection, use an appropriate heading level. For example, H3 should sit under a H2 section and a H4 under the H3 section. Try to give the screen reader a clear structure to navigate through content so it can provide the user with a clearer understanding of the content's structure without the visual context.

How do you keep website content relevant?

Website content is not a static thing. Maintaining your content requires you to keep it up-to-date and relevant. This does not mean you have to constantly re-write articles and pages. Instead, do quick reviews of your site, make sure all the links still work, removing and updating any dead ones. Over time your website may evolve. When it does some of the content may no longer be relevant. For example, if your business stops selling a certain service or product you should remove any mention of it on your site. Your website could be the first port-of-call for your users. Therefore, it should provide the most accurate and up-to-date information.

How do you maintain website security?

There are two sides to this. First, make sure the code of your website is secure. Keeping all plugins and software up-to-date will take care of this. Not updating your website regularly leaves it exposed as security holes remained unfilled. For those whose websites don't have managed hosting, keeping your servers and platforms up-to-date is just as, if not more, important.

Second, stay up-to-date with any laws regarding personal data usage. If your website uses cookies or collects personal data in any way, make sure you stay up-to-date with GDPR (or your local data protection laws). Falling behind with this is easy and doing so leaves you open to lawsuits or, worse, data breaches.

Final thoughts

A website is not a static beast. As your website evolves it is important to keep it running smoothly. Doing so does not require a lot of extra input from you. Take care when creating your website content and keeping your technology up-to-date will do most of it. Don't fall into the complacency trap. Taking that extra little bit of time helps keep your website in as good condition as it was when it was new.