Everything you need to know about website maintenance plans

This is the last of a 6-part website design and development series. The series covers creative web design, website SEO and marketing, user experience design, quality website development, stellar performance (how to speed up your website), and regular website maintenance.

Over 35% of websites are running WordPress and need to have regular maintenance. Similar to software on your computer or phone, WordPress has upgrades (major releases) and updates (minor releases). These can be anything from small bug fixes to major new features or improvements. Website maintenance plans take care of implementing updates and checking that your website is working well.

Website maintenance or care plans keep up with software updates. In addition, regular website backups, monitoring, and security checks are important to keep your website running smoothly.

Website maintenance plans

I offer regular website maintenance plans. Here is a sampling of what is included:

  • Backup website, database, and files
  • Update WordPress, theme, and plugins
  • Site monitoring – daily uptime and downtime monitoring
  • Security – firewall, scan for malware, brute force login protection
  • Performance checks
  • Improve database performance
  • Remove spam comments

Backup website, database, and files

  • Your website consists of a database and files. These are backed up before maintenance so your website can be restored if anything breaks during the updates.

Update WordPress, theme, and plugins

  • Major upgrades for WordPress usually happen two or three times a year and minor releases happen as needed.
  • When the WordPress core gets updated, themes may need to be updated as well. A WordPress theme provides the front-end styling of your website. From time to time, the creators of the theme may release enhancements to make their product better.
  • Just like themes and WordPress core, you will want to update your plugins. Plugins can become outdated and have security issues, which would necessitate an update. Thus, it is important to make sure that your plugins are updated regularly.

Site monitoring – daily uptime and downtime monitoring

  • One of the most important maintenance tasks is ensuring that your website is running efficiently at all times. Downtime or performance issues can lead directly to lost business and revenue.
  • I set up up-time monitoring so I am immediately notified if your website is down. This allows me to review and fix issues in a timely manner.

Security

  • Your website must have an SSL certificate and, therefore, have an encrypted connection between the website and a web browser. HTTPS increases security of data transfer. I wrote a post all about HTTPS.
  • Strong passwords are important on both the website host and WordPress.
  • A security plugin adds a firewall, malware scan, brute force login protection, and two-factor authentication. I use the Wordfence plugin on all website I build.

Performance checks

  • Website speed is important for user experience, SEO, and your bottom line. A slow website will be hard to use and may cause your visitors to go elsewhere. That’s why I benchmark your website performance regularly and make improvements as needed.

Improve database performance

  • Every page or post edit made is stored in the database. This can slow down the website. Regular cleanup of outdated revisions keeps your site running well.

Additional website maintenance tips

Update the PHP version on your website’s server

  • PHP is one of the most common server-side coding languages that is used by many platforms, including WordPress. It is not updated frequently, but when it is, it is important to update it on your site. Each PHP version is fully supported for two years, during which any bugs and security issues are fixed and patched. After three years, though, it is no longer supported. Read more about updating PHP and other performance improvements.

Check for broken links

  • Broken links can happen if a website address changes or is removed. Regularly checking your website for broken links will improve your users experience as well as your SEO ranking.

Check responsive layout issues

  • Most websites use a responsive layout that resizes for different devices. This makes it easy to use on a laptop, tablet, and phone. Regular checks of the responsive page layout is important to make sure everything is working properly. If a website visitor runs into a problem on your website, they are more likely to go to a competitor than get in touch with you.

Update contact information

  • Regularly check that all contact information on your website is accessible and up-to-date. It is important to immediately update contact information any time there is a change in address, email, phone number or personnel. SEO experts call this NAP (name, address, phone).
  • NAP should be consistent and up-to-date on your website and across the internet. It is an important SEO factor and is used by search engines to send traffic to your website. Read more about NAP and website SEO.

This is the last of a 6-part website design and development series. The series covers creative web design, website SEO and marketing, user experience design, quality website development, stellar performance (how to speed up your website), and regular website maintenance.

About Amy Kvistad

Amy has 15 years of experience as a graphic designer and 10 years as a web designer and developer. She is a co-organizer for the Boston WordPress meetup group and WordCamp Boston.