7 ways to keep your site alive!

1. Check Your Links

Every so often, go back and click on every link in your website. Every. Single. One. You should definitely do this after making any major changes to your site, obviously, but not only then. Servers can be weird sometimes. And if you link to outside sources of information, you need to check to make sure they’ve not been broken, removed, moved, or simply been eaten by some computer error. Few things look as amateur as links that are no longer relevant or don’t work.

2. Update Your Content

Out-of-date content doesn’t look great. It’s not as bad as a broken link, but it can make people decide to leave, and not come back. Up-to-date information is relevant information. God knows how often I’ve been looking for information, only to have Google’s top results be four or five years out of date Now, if you have a brochure site for a small business, and the prices are not often subject to change, it can be fine to mostly leave the content alone. But if you have any sort of blog, media feed, or what-have-you: keep it up to date. Update once a month at the least.

If you offer useful information, tutorials, or reference information, keep that up to date, too. Go back and make edits when stuff happens. You might even want to publish new editions of entire articles when things change. God knows how often I’ve been looking for information, only to have Google’s top results be four or five years out of date.

3. Test On New Browsers And Devices

When a new browser comes out, test your site. If your friend gets a new phone or tablet, ask to borrow it so you can test your site. The new version of JavaScript comes out? Test your site with it. Get a new TV that can browse the web? You get the idea, I’m sure.

4. Double Check All JavaScript Interactions

This is actually a big one. So many sites now rely on JavaScript for basic functionality. This is a practice I’ve never condoned, but I’ve decided that I dislike beating my head against brick walls. Scripters gonna script. Large swathes of content and even entire websites will stop working if their JavaScript stops working for any reason.

5. Double Check All Forms

It’s one thing if a small widget stops working. That’s not ideal. Forms are another matter. Forms are typically used for contacting people or buying things, and other very essential functions. They are one of the primary ways that users provide websites with vital information. If they’re willing to fill out a form, that means they’re at least partially willing to commit to whatever you have to offer.

Forms can stop working for a variety of reasons. Maybe the form has JS, and it stopped working (see above), or maybe the PHP version on your server got upgraded. Maybe the email accounts your contact form is sending messages to stopped working for whatever reason. Maybe it’s getting flagged as SPAM. Whatever the reason, check the forums regularly, so you don’t lose business.

6. Update All Hacks And Workarounds

Okay, sometimes, when you build a site, you use hacks. You use workarounds. When things get dire, you use polyfills. This is normal, and everyone does it; because no matter how ugly the hacks might be, your site must be beautiful. But browsers get updates, browser market saturation changes, and CSS gets updated, too. At least once a year — and whenever you hear of any big changes to browsers that might affect your site — you should check to see if any of your hacks and workarounds are now obsolete. If they are, they could actually slow your site down.

7. Have A Backup Plan

No, I mean that literally. Have a plan for backing up your entire website. Now, any decent web host should be handling backups for you, for the most part. However, for smaller sites, it’s totally worth it to make regular manual backups yourself. Large sites are another thing entirely. People with data caps (now those are spooky) could easily run into trouble when downloading gigabytes of data regularly. In this case, look into a third-party backup solution. It costs money, but it’s worth it.

And that’s it. Regular testing and considerable preparation are what it takes to make sure you are never shamed by a site that fails to work, or even “Just looks wrong”. Good luck!

 

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