Website updates: The What, Why, And How
Your website is a significant face of your brand.
It is what customers see after they click on your link in search engine results pages (SERPs), follow a link in your marketing, or (and I know it does still happen) when they pick up a business card and tap your website address into their browser.
And, having only 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression means that your website needs to look and feel its best.
As well as tweaking your website to keep it looking fresh and attractive for your visitors, you’ll be wanting to keep your software up-to-date too, especially if your website uses a platform such as WordPress.
If you ignore your website after its launch, there’s a high chance that the content, as well as the software and coding, will become outdated, having a direct negative effect on user experience and your brand’s reputation. Outdated software also brings a greatly increased risk of introducing malware onto your website. Outdated content makes it look like you are no longer actively ‘in business’.
How do you avoid this? With regular website updates.
Our clients have been trusting us to look after their WordPress sites for over 12 years.
Find out how our care packages can offer the best value care for your website.
What are website updates?
Remember, once your website goes live… the work is far from over.
Website updates can really be broken into 3 main areas.
Website maintenance is the process of regularly auditing your website for issues and errors to keep it usable for your visitors, visible and relevant to search engines, and safe from hackers.
Think of it as you would a car – without regularly checking the oil, water, and tyre pressure, your car would not be in very good working order and you could miss an important fault that could cause your car (or website) to break down.
Content management, on the other hand, focuses on making sure that your website shows your most recent news and opinions, current products and services, and up-to-date case studies and reviews.
Regular updating of content, functionality, and style, is a good thing, as it keeps your website fresh and provides a good place for your customers to explore, bringing them back regularly.
Having ensured that everything on your site is working (website maintenance), and making sure that visitors have the most up-to-date and relevant content to digest (content management) when they visit your site, you might then turn your attention to user experience.
Can your visitors find what they are looking for quickly and easily? Are too many unnecessary popups getting in their way? Do your contact forms have difficult-to-read captcha images? How does your site look on your mobile phone?
Google considers this to be an important ranking factor for websites, so it is worth spending time on.
So, website updates can encompass everything from small tweaks, to regular spelling and grammar audits, content refreshing, contact form improvement, fixing search engine optimisation (SEO) errors, and updating WordPress core, themes and plugins.
Let’s take a look under the bonnet of website updates for everything you need to know.
Why Are Regular Website Updates Important?
Securing your website
The number one reason for updating WordPress or any website platform is to ensure the safety and security of your website – especially if you’re an online retailer and deal with sensitive customer information.
If you don’t have the time to regularly update your website, or you have too many plugins that are outdated, you might find yourself the target of hackers and suffer data security breaches.
And, while plugins are fantastic tools for customisation, they are often the vulnerable point of your website. But, updating WordPress plugins regularly will help to lower the risk that outdated plugins bring with them.
When it comes to plugins, the old adage of “less is more”, especially in terms of the security of your website. Having too many plugins on your site can slow your load times down. So, another reason to only select the plugins your website actually needs.
We recommend checking your site for these types of update weekly, if possible.
Amped Up performance
People today want things to move fast – from shopping online to searching for information – and they want to have a positive experience with whatever website they’re interacting with.
In numbers – up to 39% of people stop engaging with a website if images are too slow to load or don’t load at all and almost 90% of users are less likely to return to a website after having a bad
user experience. That is a huge chunk of your audience who is clicking away from your website and onto your competitors.
Your website performance will change over time, especially as you add more features, bigger images, and rely on more external resources. So, push your main website page(s) through a performance checker tool on a regular basis to make sure your load times haven’t taken a turn for the worse.
How often? We test home page load times daily and report these to clients on our silver- and gold-care plans monthly. If your site changes infrequently, then you can probably get away with checking once a month.
Housekeeping to pick up website issues
Missing pages, broken links, outdated content, long loading times, difficult (or broken) contact forms, insecure (no SSL) pages, and broken page displays will all cause users to leave your website, as well as affect their perception of your brand as a whole.
We highlighted a number of simple housekeeping tasks for website owners in an article a few years ago, which still hold true today. You can use a spring clean as an excuse, but try to review your website once a quarter for these issues.
Nifty new features
New technology, bells, and whistles are being introduced at an ever-increasing rate – just think of the latest TVs, and mobile phone upgrades, we see every year. The same idea can be applied to website technologies, and especially to the platforms that run them.
New features are being introduced to platforms like WordPress and their platform ecosystems (in the case of WordPress, this applies to themes and plugins) constantly. Although most updates relate to bug fixes and feature updates, some also relate to security and performance.
Although not all updates are essential to apply, it’s usually a good idea to update all the same. Delaying an update too long could introduce problems. You might miss a security update. You could miss a fix to a compatibility issue with another part of your site.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the backbone of any website. All search engines (yes, even Bing!) place properly optimised websites at the top of their results – websites that have highly relevant content, a great user experience, and a fast mobile performance.
Updating and maintaining your website regularly can improve your overall SEO and ranking, and ensures that users have a positive experience. Focus on dynamic content, mobile responsiveness, and page speed, when it comes to SEO updates.
As a minimum, we suggest installing Google Analytics on your website to help you monitor your user and traffic behaviour, look at top-performing pages and content to guide future strategies, and take note of exit rates on certain pages. Google Search Console (plus Bing Webmaster Tools) is very useful if you want to dive a little deeper into your website performance.
Using the data from these analytics to make website changes can improve your SEO, boost your visibility, and drastically improve your user experience.
How Can I Update My Website?
Not every website owner has the time, knowledge, or even inclination to review their website and apply updates on a regular basis. When it comes to user experience, often a business owner is too close to the coal face to see the issues.
We can help you with as much as you need. This could be just keeping on top of your core WordPress, theme, and plugin updates for you. It could also include fully managing performance and security checks, doing small content tweaks, checking for broken links, making sure your pages aren’t blocked from search engine crawlers, checking your site for spelling and grammar problems, helping you choose the right plugins for the job… the list goes on!
That’s why we offer a range of WordPress maintenance plans, to deliver as much website care as you want.
An agency might cost too much and offer unnecessary updates and charges. If you only need small tweaks or updates, these costs can eat into an already small budget.
DMJ offers care plans with various amounts of retained time built in, so you never have to worry about setting aside your budget to ask for website changes. Find out more about our WordPress
packages and see what we can do for you.
Having spent time and money building your website, you need to stay on top of updates to keep it safe and performant, to take advantage of new features, and to keep bugs at bay.
Many website owners prefer to do these updates themselves, while others prefer to outsource this website management to professional organisations such as ourselves.
Both approaches are fine – as long as the investment is put in.
If you want to jump in and start updating your own WordPress bits, scroll down to our instructional video. If you prefer to have professionals look after the updates for you…
Our care packages start from less than £3 per week
We’d love to look after your site!
WordPress is what we do – all day, every day.
So, drop us a line in the contact form at the bottom of this page if you want to us to look after any aspect of your website maintenance.
Video explanation of how to update WordPress, your theme and your plugins
For those who prefer watching video instruction, we hope you find this useful…