Updated March 22, 2017
Manage a Website
Designing and maintaining a website is not a daunting thing. It just takes time to do it and a learning curve to learn something new. The way we handle websites at Wild West Business Solutions is similar to what we’re about to show you below. It’s relatively straight-forward and it will award you a website that is easy to maintain once it’s made.
1. Use a Content Management System (CMS)
For most of our clients, we use WordPress as our CMS. It’s used to create or redesign their website. Other options out there include Drupal or Joomla!.
Think of WordPress as a car engine. Fresh out of the dealership (or download in our case) the engine is new and strong. However, it needs to be maintained on a regular basis. More on that later. If WordPress is the engine, a WordPress theme would be the exterior, or what the car looks like. It’s a pre-created look that you can customize to make it your own.
So you go to WordPress.Org and download the latest version, which is v. 4.7.3 as of the writing of this article. Install it on your server per the instructions and you’re all set there.
2. Domain, Hosting, and SSL
The domain is the name of your website. yourdomain.com, yourdomain.net, yourdomain.biz are examples of a domain. These you have to pay for on a yearly basis. You don’t have to have it be the name of your business, it can be a tagline or some relevant words that describes you business, but if you can, buy your company name if it’s available.
Along with the cost of the domain, there is the cost of ‘hosting’. Hosting is the space reserved for you on a computer that’s setup for people to view your website from around the world. This is a monthly charge that can range $7 to over $5,000, depending on your needs.
Finally, you need SSL to keep it secured. When you type in ‘https://’ before the URL (e.g. https://www.yoursite.com), your site may possibly be secured. If you type ‘http://’ then it is not. You need this because Google now penalizes those who do not have SSL. Basically, if your site is not secured, you’ll be lower in the search engine rankings. Not good.
Once you have your website created, your theme customized, and your SSL setup, it’s time to optimize. If you go to a site like GTMetrix you’ll probably notice it will give you a low grade (based on an ‘A’ to ‘F’ scale). Don’t worry about what these mean right now, we’ll talk about that in another article. However, your goal should be ‘B’ or higher.
Here are some WordPress plugins that we use to help our clients websites:
BJ Lazy Load (Free) – Loads images on demand to speed up your website loading time and save bandwidth.
Contact Form 7 (Free) – A very customizable form creator to manage any and all correspondence via your website.
Yoast SEO (Starts Free) – A powerful plugin that tells you how to optimize your page and blog posts to better rank in the search engines.
WooCommerce (Starts Free) – Allows you to add eCommerce to your website.
Although there are more, these are the basics we almost always use.
Going back to the car analogy, maintaining your website is like changing the oil and rotating the tires of your car. It’s not necessarily hard but time consuming and, depending on how your day is going, annoying. Unfortunately, if you want your car to run smoothly, and your website, it needs to be done. Either on a daily or weekly basis, you have to check to see if your theme and plugins have an update. If they do, you have to update them. Again, it’s not hard, just time consuming if you have a lot of plugins on your site.
Another thing you must do is monitor your website to make sure it does not go down. It does happen! Sometimes it’s due to your CMS setup, sometimes it’s because of your hosting provider. When you’re bootstrapping (saving as much money as possible) this can be done by you. Just visit your website a few times a day (or at least once per day) and visit the main pages of your website. If you’re using WordPress, you can look for a plugin via the WordPress Plugin Repository for a plugin that checks for you, but keep in mind that the reliable ones do cost money.
6. Let an Agency Do it For You
Finally, you can hire someone to do it for you. Here, at Wild West Business Solutions, we provide our clients a full report of everything that happens on their websites on a monthly basis. This can sometimes be a twenty page report! So there is plenty to do to maintain your website. We offer an option that completely does it all for you and connects you to your own Account Manager. If you’re interested in having us fully manage your website, and even redesign it if you’d like, contact us for more information.