7 Common Website Maintenance Mistakes

Quick Summary

Having a website is critical to running a business and requires regular maintenance to function smoothly and securely. Like any other business, website maintenance mistakes can lead to problems and lost revenue. A website maintenance plan should include updating software, monitoring security, creating backups, with regular website checkups that can prevent small problems from turning into big ones. By taking the time to maintain your website properly, you can avoid costly downtime and ensure your website works its best every day.

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When you hire a professional and invest your hard-earned money into a gorgeous website, you expect it to work. You don’t expect to discover that something is broken or be constantly pulled away from the important work you do to address problems with your website.

Adding new content and images, publishing blog posts, and updating event information — they’re all vital parts of running your business, marketing your offers, and making sales. You might even enjoy this creative break from your other work.

But being forced to stop everything you’re doing to fix problems on your website isn’t creative or fun. It also doesn’t move your business or marketing forward. Working on your website feels far different when you don’t have a choice, are under pressure, and are the only person to turn to.

Maintaining your website and being a responsible website owner is a critical part of making sure those problems don’t distract you or pull your team away from moving important business initiatives forward.

Why website maintenance is important

Part of being a responsible website owner is making sure that your website is being properly cared for and maintained. That software is being updated, that security is being monitored, that systems are tested, and that backups are happening because you are busy:

  • Networking
  • Building relationships
  • Managing your team
  • Setting goals
  • Serving your clients and customers
  • Advancing your mission

Fixing website woes becomes a time-consuming distraction, getting in the way of your progress towards achieving your bigger business goals.

The problem is most people ignore their websites. Despite the best of intentions, they aren’t responsible website owners. When business is good and you’re busy, it’s easy to think, “This can wait,” and that “nothing major is going to happen to me.”

But the consequences are that things break, and you have no idea how long they have been broken.

You’re working to generate new leads, but they aren’t coming in. Maybe you even begin to think, “It’s us,” only to end up frustrated when you realize that the whole time, it’s been because your forms were broken.

  • If you want your website to be an asset that works as tirelessly as you do, creating connections, generating leads, and growing your audience, then you need to block out time in your calendar to make sure your website is up-to-date and running as it should every week.
  • If that sounds like a lot of time and work, then you need to hire a website care plan provider who can do it for you, because ignoring the basic care your website needs puts important parts of your business at risk.

I get it. Website care plans and website support aren’t always a priority. You might be reading this and thinking, “I get it, but we’ll delay it until we get next year’s budget.”

But consider this: What happens if something breaks, or worse, you get hacked before then? And what happens if you make a mistake like those listed below?

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Common website maintenance mistakes

Mistake 1: Not Having A Maintenance Plan In Place

It’s not enough to know that you need to update your website regularly. You have to have a plan in place for doing so. The most common mistake I see companies make is not having a plan for performing website maintenance in the first place.

Just like you wouldn’t leave your finances unmanaged, your website needs a regular maintenance plan to ensure smooth operation and prevent costly issues down the line.

Without it things will fall through the cracks, steps will be skipped and issues will snowball until they become significant problems.

A maintenance plan should outline:

  • A schedule for regular website updates that need to happen weekly, monthly, and quarterly
  • Assigning who is responsible for which tasks.
  • Identifying issues that may arise and how to address them.
  • Set up processes for how and when the site updates will be tested.
  • Document your plan and update it as your systems change.

Mistake 2: Delaying Website Updates

Regularly updating is crucial for security and functionality, but staying on top of plugin updates can be confusing, time-consuming, and tedious. It’s also not directly tied to the other items on your to-do list that move your organization closer to its goals. So, it’s not surprising they are ignored or delayed. The problem is that being reactive rather than proactive leaves websites vulnerable to security breaches and performance issues and undermines your goal of maintaining a strong online presence.

Set out dedicated time in your calendar for your maintenance plan and stick to it. Don’t let that time and attention get taken up by other tasks. The longer it gets ignored, the more it’s put off, the worse potential problems can become.

Mistake 3: Failing to Test Updates Before Making Them

Running an update doesn’t seem like that big of a task, and in general, it’s not. But every update brings code changes, security fixes, and new features, and with it, the potential for issues and conflicts. When you run those updates on a live website, you risk introducing errors that can greatly impact your website’s functionality and break other elements you didn’t even know were connected.

When issues do arise, troubleshooting and fixing them can be daunting, especially if you don’t have the experience or the technical knowledge.

Running updates safely and successfully requires taking a few precautionary steps. To make the process easy and fast:

  • Run updates regularly instead of waiting for the updates to accumulate.
  • Before every update, make sure to review each plugin for the changes that will be made. 
  • Before running those updates on your live website, test those updates first in a safe staging environment. 
  • After running updates make sure to test the functionality of each important aspect of your website so you can catch any potential issues. 

Taking these extra steps helps ensure that potential conflicts are identified and taken care of before they can affect your website.

Mistake 4: Not Doing Ongoing Testing and Monitoring

Your website’s performance and availability have a direct impact on your website users’ experience and your website search engine rankings. When your website becomes slow to load or starts experiencing periods of extended downtime, your visitors and clients quickly become frustrated and leave. Poor performance and an increased bounce rate negatively impact search engine rankings and a poor user experience can damage your reputation. 

Your website maintenance routine needs to include regular and automated monitoring to stay ahead of issues, monitor for changes, and resolve problems.

  • Uptime monitoring will let you know when your website goes down so you can respond quickly to resolve issues causing your site to go down before they can impact your visitors. 
  • Performance monitoring checks your website speed and load time and helps you see how changes in your website impact its performance.

Mistake 5: Not Backing Up Regularly

Backups are the safety net of a business’s website. When something goes wrong, a hosting server goes down, your website is hacked, or functionality breaks after an update, having a backup that you can restore from is one of the first steps to getting you back online quickly and safely.

Without a proper approach to backups your business risks:

  • Extended downtime, which can lead to a loss of sales, donations, and potential clients.
  • Damage to your brand reputation, credibility, and trustworthiness.
  • Potential data loss, which requires expensive, time-consuming recovery solutions that might not even work.
  • Losing the entire website and being forced to start over. (Yes, it happens and it’s far more expensive than any maintenance or care plan.)

Even when backups are set up and running many businesses get themselves into trouble by not having enough backups. Website issues can take time before they are discovered. If your maintenance includes only keeping a few backups, then you risk being unable to revert to a time before your site was compromised.

Backups must be run on a consistent automated schedule, at least weekly. Relying on your website hosting provider is not enough. Your backups should be stored offsite and separate from your host so they remain available in an emergency. It is recommended to keep at least three months’ worth of backups.

Mistake 6: Ignoring Website Security

The reality of having an online business means that it is constantly exposed to a barrage of threats from cyber-attacks and malicious bots. For many companies, however, website security is easy to overlook because the details are confusing, and you never think it will happen to you.

A robust approach to security is needed to help keep your website safe and secure. 

  • Part of keeping your website from being compromised is ensuring every user has the appropriate permissions to do their work. This also means removing users’ access to your site when staff changes.
  • Everyone who has access to your website needs a strong password. A password policy should require each user to set a strong, unique, and uncompromised password. Adopting a password manager for your organization makes managing and creating unique passwords easy.
  • Requiring two-factor authentication on the website adds an essential extra layer of security to protect against compromised passwords.

Mistake 7: Not Having A Disaster Recovery Plan

What happens when everything goes wrong? When an update breaks your site’s functionality or an accidental change in staging erases your entire marketing list or members database. How do you discover your website has been taken down?

Fixing any one of those issues isn’t as easy as clicking an undo button. So, the last thing you want to be doing in the middle of a disaster is scrambling to get a plan in place.

Making a recovery plan is one thing, but a disaster recovery plan is only good if it works. A disaster recovery plan should outline how you’ll deal with a major website incident. 

  • Your plan should include who will lead the recovery and who in the organization needs to be informed and updated. 
  • Document the steps for restoring your website functionality, including where the website backups are stored and how to restore the website from them. 
  • Outline which website elements need to be thoroughly tested after being restored. 
  • Consider your communication plan to let customers and website users know what’s happened.
  • Test your procedure and your backups to make sure they work as intended, and find any gaps or places you can improve.
A cluttered desk with crumpled paper, a tablet, colorful notebooks.

Website maintenance doesn’t have to be on your to-do list

Your business didn’t survive the ups and downs of its early years by spending needlessly — and I know a website care plan can seem like an easy thing to skip to save money. But your business didn’t get to where it is by ignoring the foundational work needed to build your brand and grow your audience, and that includes website maintenance.

When you partner with a website care plan provider for website support, you can trust that your website will continue to operate as smoothly as the day it launched.

If you’re ready to make sure your website is looked after the right way, it’s time to invest in a website care plan. Managing your website maintenance doesn’t need to be your responsibility. Reinvest your time and energy into growing your business, and let me handle your website maintenance. I invite you to schedule a free consultation to review your website maintenance approach and discover which website care plan is best for you.

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Author Profile

About the author

Patrick Boehner is a seasoned website designer with over a decade of experience. He works with mission-driven organizations, non-profits, and professional service firms to bring their bold visions to life by building websites showcasing their brilliance, experience, and the transformation they create. If you're looking for a website that truly reflects your organization's unique mission and story, I would love to talk with you.

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