As a small business owner I’ll be the first to say that managing the back-end of your site is one of the less exciting parts of running an online business and can easily be overlooked if you’re not on top of things. Once your site is pushed out live for thousands of viewers to read you’ll want to ensure everything is in working order though so that more people see your content and stick around longer.
Many web developers that work with WordPress have maintenance plans and will take care of updates for you. If you’re a solopreneur and are building your own website I’ve provided a checklist below to ensure your website is performing smoothly.
Managing Your Site Content
Sidebar: Ideally you should keep plugins down to the bare minimum to enhance the speed of your site. Plugins, as you know, are a major culprit for loading times and as tempting as it is to add that cool new widget I often find they soon or later lose their initial appeal as often as tastes change.
I recently took a look at one of my own sites’ sidebar to see why things were lagging behind alittle bit and decided that snapwidget wasn’t a high priority item anymore as keeping visitors eyes on the site content was. You should run your site through Pagespeed in Google Developer tools to see what, if any, improvements they suggest.
Compressing Blog Images:
Those beautiful images we create for our blog help us stand out but can over time slowly eat at our load and run time. Graphic designers are taught to save at the lowest file without loss in quality which I’d recommend as a good rule of thumb! You can see in the above screenshot how I use the Save for Web feature in Photoshop to optimize the quality of images – saving as JPG rather than a PNG which oftentimes results in a much smaller file size.
As you adjust these settings you’ll want to keep an eye on your image preview. Just as important as the way the image looks is the information directly under the preview pertaining to the image size and approximate load time. Again weigh the visual trade-offs between graphic file size and crispness.
Check for Broken Links: If you’ve been in business for awhile chances are there will be broken links somewhere along the line. It’s nothing to fret over but I’d suggest you use a plugin such as Broken Link Checker so you’ll automatically be notified of any broken links as they arise. Simply login to your wordpress site and fix those links and you’re good to go!
Be Careful About What Comments You Approve: If the comments coming into your site seem suspicious you’re better off marking them as spam. The spam filter Akismet (which comes with most WordPress sites as a plugin) does a better job for you if you mark spam comments as such. You should also regularly clean out your spam folder by going to Comments in the WP Admin menu and clicking on Spam, then the Empty Spam button.
Don’t Hoard Unused Themes or Plugins: That cool new plugin a fellow designer or developer suggested? Great idea at the time but may never be used to its full potential. Those themes or plugins you thought you’d use but are in all probability lying dormant should be deleted to free up more space.
Keeping It Secure
Best Security Plugins for WordPress: WordPress is the most used CMS out there (yay!) but with that popularity comes the chance it could come under attack by hackers (oh no!). Taking the steps to ensure your website is secure is essential in preserving your rankings and reputation. Wordfence Security is one of the top security plugins on WordPress, with over 700,000+ active downloads and a star rating of 4.9 out of 5. It’s available for download for free but there is also a premium version for those looking to get the most out of the plugin. iThemes Security, which happens to be very user-friendly, is also a great choice with over 600,000 active downloads and a star rating of 4.7 out of 5. It comes with clear instructions making it easy to set up and offers high levels of protection. The plugin also includes malware scanning, allowing you to detect and resolve issues before they affect your site and readers.
Backup Your WordPress Website: Trust me – if something goes amiss such as your site getting hacked or a file is deleted by accident, you’ll breathe easier knowing you have a backup! Many shared hosting providers won’t store regular backups so doing so through a third party service isn’t a bad option. A great plugin is WordPress Backup to Dropbox, currently at 999,759 downloads, which will automatically backup your files to your Dropbox account based on whichever frequency you’ve set. If you’re looking for a robust option than BackupBuddy has some amazing features at a small cost for your security.
Change Your Password Every Few Months: Around 8% of hacked WordPress websites are down to weak passwords – something stronger than ‘abc123′ will keep your goods safe longer. Include upper and lower case letters in addition to numbers and other characters like punctuation marks. You can also look into a password recipe if you’re fresh out of ideas.
Managing Multiple WordPress Websites: As a creative entrepreneur you might find yourself running more than one WordPress site at a given time. Updating each website to the latest version of WordPress as well as managing the day to day functions of your site can be time consuming. In comes a number of really handy WordPress management services that take the hassle out of logging in and out of each website by corralling all websites under one management solution online. ManageWp is one of the more popular paid options and includes key features such as one-click updates, backup & migration which streamline the entire process. Prettty handy!
WordPress is a great platform to share your passions – whether you’re serious about blogging for your creative interests or getting your business off the ground running you can count on the robust CMS to act as the backbone of all kinds of different websites. The support is also second-to-none. Think of the above as a simple checklist for non-techy types to refer periodically to ensure things are running smoothly on the back-end so that you can focus on what it is you do best.
By now you’re familiar with the capabilities this robust CMS offers, from Getting Started and Branding/General Settings to SEO and Studiopress Theme Selection but what happens when you have digital products you really want to launch into the world? In the next couple weeks I’ll discuss one popular option and how to streamline the creation process. Stay tuned!
Have you encountered any maintenance issues using WordPress that I didn’t mention?