As St. Louis experiences yet another heat wave (welcome to Missouri, friends!), everyone’s mind suddenly turns to their air conditioners. How old is that again? When did we last get that serviced? Is the filter clogged up? Will it work when I need it?
Of course, waiting until its 110 degrees is the absolute wrong time to be asking these questions. As warm air blows from the vents you think, “why didn’t I have someone look at this a few months ago?”
The same is true with any corporate websites and web applications. Ensuring the things you rely on will work as expected cannot be a matter of chance, it must be part of the plan. This requires ongoing maintenance, updates and upgrades.
This concept of “preventative maintenance" usually occurs in high-risk industries where any failure would be “very bad”(think about aggressive aircraft maintenance schedules - thank you, FAA). There is often a perception that a marketing website represents low risk and so regular maintenance is a luxury – something you can defer or neglect if budgets or time get tight.
Even the simplest marketing website is an organization’s chief brand steward and is often the primary way their products and services are accessed. Broken links, slow load times, content defacement and downtime can result in considerable loss of revenue and reputation damage. Marketing websites are “soft targets” for hackers looking to scrape user permission data for easy access into more secure systems. The cost of damage control can be immense, and some damage cannot be undone.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all risk, there are a few things you can do today to greatly reduce it.
If your content managed website is using factory default settings, even an amateur hacker has a decent chance of gaining access. Changing your default login page, enforce strong password rules, IP address lockdown, etc. are an essential first step.
Old software versions become unstable and are easy targets for "low effort" hacking methods. Keeping on top of new patches and versions is an easy but often ignored way to increase stability and security. Make sure to test your entire site after every upgrade, as some updates will cause unexpected behaviors, requiring additional website updates.
Usability testing and user traffic trends help identify when user behavior shifts and your website content, architecture, layout or functionality needs to change with it.
Natural search optimization (SEO) best practices often change and without warning. Keeping on top of industry trends and measurable site search performance is essential to ensure your site is well positioned on major search engines for high value key terms.
Essentially, you must engage a team of experts to constantly pay attention… to your website, the industry, and the trends. No one can see the future, but we can be vigilant and responsive to opportunities, changes and threats when we see them.
That way, when we need desperately need our website or web application to be running at its peak, it will be. Not only is it easier to prevent a fire than put one out, but it also costs less and keeps you in control of the situation (thinking strategically vs. responding reactively).
If your corporate website or web application doesn't have a structured maintenance program in place, the website maintenance team at Integrity would be happy to recommend one. Drop us a line and let's talk.
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