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Embracing The “M” Word

Yes, I maintain websites after I’ve designed them. Yes, I maintain websites designed by other people.

Apparently a lot web designers want to just that: design websites.  They don’t want to do minor changes or, God forbid, touch a site someone else originally created.

Many of the calls I get are from tired business owners who want to change some things in their site, but they don’t need — or want to pay for — a complete overhaul. They report problems finding someone who can help them.

Sometimes their original web designer has found a full-time graphics design job (a lot of web designers seem to be frustrated or underemployed graphic designers).  Other times the business owners report that their original designer doesn’t do maintenance.

I think we web designers have to be available to make changes and tweaks to our customers’ pages.  Phone numbers change, photos get outdated,  new products come out, business hours expand!  All of these updates belong on your website.

Sometimes the business owner needs more substantial changes. They want to add a video or a series of pages about new things they’re doing.  The owner wants to update their site, but they aren’t up for a total re-do!

I get asked to help with all sorts of websites, even sites created on WordPress or other platforms that supposedly allow non-technical users to update content. WordPress, Joomla, and proprietary systems by Wix, GoDaddy, and others all require some computer skills.  Although they do not require special software on your computer, these tools take time to learn and tame.  Many owners are too busy running their business to spend hours coming up to speed and implementing changes.  I am happy that they call me!

Doing maintenance may not be as fun as creating an eye-catching design from scratch. And, when I work on a site that someone else created, I have to adjust to whatever style that person had.  I also have to find out where they have put the images, layouts, and styles I’m being asked to use and modify.  And, of course, the original designer is never as organized and clear as I am!

Still, I am happy to do maintenance.  I have done one-time updates, and I have some clients whose sites I change several times a month like Theatre Rhinoceros, a San Francisco theater company.  I like making all of them reflect the owner’s current activities.

By |2014-10-07T15:40:50+00:00October 7th, 2014|Professional Services, Web Design|0 Comments

The Care and Feeding of Your WordPress Site

You can’t just publish your WordPress website and forget about it for weeks, months, or years as you could for HTML-based pages. (See more on how WordPress sites are different in our previous post.)

A WordPress site needs:

  • Updating of its modules to plug security holes that have been discovered.
  • Monitoring of visitor comments.  You’ll want to respond to questions or complaints, and you will want to encourage people’s comments.
  • Watching for fake spam comments that are loaded with links to scammy sites.
  • Regular, intentional back-ups.
Word Press Dashboard

Dashboard Showing 1 Update Pending

Fortunately, regular maintenance is neither difficult nor time consuming.

Here’s what we suggest.

  • Sign on to your site administration account at least once a week. Pick Mondays at noon or another regular time
    • Review the WordPress Dashboard.  Any pressing tasks will be highlighted in red and also the number of tasks will be shown on the header line at the top.  In the example at right, there is 1 Plug-In Update pending.  If there were comments needing review or theme updates waiting, there would be a red number by those menu items.
    • Click on the lines with red numbers showing, and follow the instructions.  This process will bring your site up to the latest version of its software.
    • Click on the “Comments” menu item and see the new comments have been posted site-wide.  Click on ones you want to respond to.
  • If your site allows any comments,  install the Akismet plug-in to block spam comments automatically.  The service is free for personal sites and $5/month for commercial sites.
  • Set up an unattended backup so that you will have access to a copy of your live system in case something unexpected happens to your hosting service or software.
    • We use Updraft for the sites we create.  The full-featured version allows us to stage a site, show it to a client, and then migrate it to the client’s live URL.  For your website, if you don’t need any special functionality, you maybe able to use Updraft’s free version.  Or, buy your own license for $60/year.
    • You, or your web developer, can install the backup program when your site goes live.  Establish a regular schedule for the backups and test the procedures.

Because WordPress sites are dynamic and can be updated from different locations, your maintenance activity is critical, if not terribly time consuming.  Besides,  although this post is written saying that YOU, the website owner, have maintenance tasks waiting for you with a WordPress site, you can delegate your responsibility.  Ozdachs will do regular or ad hoc maintenance on your WordPress site.  Or, you can assign the routine work to a techy in your organization.

Want more information? Leave your questions here, or call us at 415.347.6479 for a private response.

By |2014-02-09T13:35:10+00:00February 9th, 2014|Blogging, Wordpress|0 Comments