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codal insights

Proactive vs Reactive Website Maintenance

Gibson Toombs
February 5th, 2021
10 MINUTE READ

The importance of a good website in today’s business landscape cannot be overstated. For eCommerce merchants, their website is not only a key generator of revenue but also a vehicle for expressing the company’s core mission and values. When a consumer wants to learn more about a brand, they go to its website. And how they interact with that website will determine whether or not they make a purchase, return in the future, or recommend it to their friends. 

Online shoppers make these decisions fast and almost unconsciously. In fact, research shows that the average consumer will form an opinion about a website in just 50 milliseconds. So to hold your customer’s attention and keep them from bouncing to a competitor’s site, building a rock-solid user experience is key. But it doesn’t stop there. As consumer habits evolve and markets change, the development of your brand’s site should continue as a never-ending project. 

To unlock the full potential of your company’s online presence, you need a proactive website maintenance strategy that can support steady growth. Now, let’s dive into everything an eCommerce merchant should know about website maintenance. 

What is website maintenance?

Like cars, household appliances, and personal health, websites require routine maintenance to remain healthy and functional. Website maintenance is the process of keeping a site relevant, up to date, and free of any issues or mistakes that could negatively affect search rankings, security, and user experience. This is typically accomplished through the fulfillment of weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks. Website maintenance falls into the following two categories:

  • Reactive web maintenance involves the restoration of site operations and tools that have already broken down. It’s also referred to as breakdown maintenance. 
  • Proactive web maintenance is the process of regularly monitoring and updating a site to make sure everything is running smoothly and prevent problems—like site outages and bugs—from occurring.

A reactive strategy might work for smaller organizations with a tight customer base and few technical requirements. But for your eCommerce business to flourish, you’ll need a more hands-on approach. 

Why be proactive about web maintenance?

Proactive web maintenance allows you to get in front of problems before it’s too late. At the very least, you can sleep better at night knowing that your website is operating correctly. Here are some more specific reasons why you should adopt a proactive approach:

eCommerce is the future

Every year, the amount of money consumers spend via online shopping increases. And experts predict that by the year 2022, global eCommerce sales will amount to $6.54 trillion. Without proactive web maintenance, your eCommerce business might not be able to scale alongside this trend. If you’re constantly having to address broken links, slow site speed, and security breaches, you won’t have as much time to focus on important eCommerce initiatives, like deploying new features and content to enhance the customer experience.

First impressions are paramount

Online merchants are constantly coming up with new ways to impress first-time site visitors. In most cases, site design plays the biggest role in a user’s first impression of a brand. And the recipe for a successful design is always changing. To keep up with the latest trends, you need the freedom to modify and try out new landing page designs, customer flows, graphics, and so on—without the looming threat of your site slowing down or crashing. Proactive maintenance supports an ever-evolving web design strategy, so you can create and maintain a beautiful site that captures the attention of buyers.

Consumers expect a high-quality user experience

In addition to visually appealing designs, consumers expect fast, easy, and personalized shopping experiences. And if your site doesn’t offer that, they’ll move on to a competing site that does. For example, personalized homepage promotions—which are presented to users based on personal data like browsing behavior and previous purchases—influence 85% of consumers’ decision to buy. By engaging in regular site maintenance, you can continuously refine the buyer journey to ensure that you’re facilitating the most seamless and effective shopping experience possible. 

Common website maintenance tasks

Here is a list of tasks necessary to keep your site running smoothly, organized by how often they should be completed: 

Weekly

  • Install available updates to your site’s software or plugins.
  • Search for and fix any 404 errors.
  • Make sure all pages load without any errors.
  • Check for broken links.

Monthly

  • Make sure your site’s loading speed is under three seconds.
  • Analyze site statistics and compare them with the last few months.
  • Conduct a security scan to check for any vulnerabilities.
  • Back up the website to keep data safe.

Quarterly

  • Test out new calls-to-action (CTA), pop-ups, and web forms.
  • Review overall website design and identify areas for improvement.
  • Refresh any out-of-date content, like blog posts or graphics.
  • Make sure all meta descriptions and meta titles are optimized for search engines.

Annually

  • Conduct thorough user testing.
  • Make sure content on every page is relevant and up to date. 
  • Review top-performing pages and see if they can be enhanced.
  • Confirm that your website domain will renew.

Benefits of proactive web maintenance

By implementing a proactive web maintenance strategy, your online business will experience the following benefits:

Stronger customer engagement

As discussed, sites with outdated content, complicated navigation, and unprofessional design quickly lose the attention of consumers. And 79% of those consumers will not return after having a single negative experience. By frequently refining your buyer journey and keeping all of your site’s content fresh, you’re bound to see a boost in customer engagement. Buyers will spend more time checking out product pages, blog posts, reviews, and so on. They are also more likely to reach out to a representative for more information, follow your brand on social media, create an account, sign up for your email newsletter, and take advantage of loyalty rewards.  

Increased sales

Improving your user experience should lead to increased conversions and sales. If customers experience slow loading times, broken links, or other bugs, the chances of them making a purchase go way down. Moreover, the chances of them leaving a bad review about your brand online goes up. And with nine out of ten online shoppers influenced by reviews, these problems can have a serious impact on sales. Staying proactive with web maintenance minimizes the threat of common site issues, so you can stay on track with meeting your sales goals. 

Improved SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a critical role in digital marketing. Google determines how your site ranks for specific keywords that users search for by analyzing the content of your webpages. This is a process called “crawling.” By keeping your blogs and landing pages updated with relevant, keyword-rich content, you can gradually improve your position in search engine results pages (SERPs). Although, if Google crawls your site and finds duplicate content, broken links, poor redirects, or other technical issues, your SERP rankings will suffer. Since the first five ranked pages of a SERP get three quarters of the clicks, SEO is yet another reason why consistent web maintenance and updates are so important. 

Better security

Cybercrime is a growing problem across the globe. In the US alone, internet users lose $15 billion a year to identity theft. This puts pressure on eCommerce brands to take extra good care of customer data, like credit card information, phone numbers, and email addresses. Hackers specifically target sites that aren’t well-maintained. So if you have an outdated content management system (CMS) or vulnerable plugins, you could be putting your customers at risk. Regular security checks are necessary to maintain a stable, trustworthy online store.  

Lower costs

It may seem like proactive web maintenance would result in higher overall costs for your business. However, in many cases, the opposite is true. Investing in proactive web maintenance can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Web issues that go ignored or unnoticed often lead to broken sites and frequent outages, which result in lost revenue. Plus, the cost of repairing a site can be enormous, depending on the severity. With ongoing web maintenance, you can avoid these expensive setbacks altogether. 

How much does web maintenance cost?

The cost of proactive web maintenance depends on a variety of factors. As you decide which plan is the best fit your business’ needs, these are some of the questions you should expect to answer: 

  • What is the purpose of your website?
  • How large is the site?
  • How fast is your business growing? 
  • What kind of CMS, plugins, and third-party apps do you use?
  • How much customized content lives on the site?

Different types of websites require different levels of maintenance. Unsurprisingly, keeping a personal blog healthy costs significantly less than maintaining a full-fledged online store. 

Website maintenance options

When it comes to putting together a strategy for proactive web maintenance, you have several options, from doing it yourself to outsourcing a team of professional developers. 

The DIY approach allows you to personally oversee and handle all web maintenance. If you decide to go this route, make sure you have enough time and resources to manage all maintenance tasks efficiently.

You could also hire an in-house web maintenance team. While this option may take a lot of work off your hands, it can also get very expensive, as you’ll have to pay salary and benefits to each new employee.

By outsourcing some of the work to specialized freelancers, you can save some money. However, you’ll need to invest a lot of time into communicating and coordinating with those contractors. Also, they may never fully understand your big-picture business goals, which could lead to development issues down the road. 

It’s important to acknowledge that even if you hire an in-house or freelance maintenance team, you’ll likely need to continue bringing new people on as your maintenance needs change. If your current team lacks knowledge in a specific area, you’ll need to seek out additional help. All of this recruiting can get very time consuming and expensive. 

For most eCommerce merchants, the smartest option is employing a third-party web maintenance agency. Many businesses have an in-house development team that does a portion of the web maintenance work, and also collaborate with an agency to complete more complex tasks. This allows you to offload specific maintenance priorities to experts who understand the different technologies involved and have the necessary experience. Here are some main advantages of website maintenance agencies to keep in mind:

  • As experts in the space, they know what specific problems to look for. They also have the resources of an agency to rely on when things become unclear. This includes experts in certain types of software, licenses for certain technologies, etc.
  • You can task them with one-off maintenance projects, rather than having to find a freelancer or put more stress on your current development team. 
  • They can put together a unique custom web maintenance plan that aligns with your business’ specific needs.
  • With them handling all maintenance tasks daily, you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your business. 

What’s included in a website maintenance plan?

Here are some of the common elements to expect in an outsourced web maintenance plan:

  • Routine updates: Keeping all software—such as CMS, plugins, and themes—updated, and installing upgrades when necessary. 
  • Ongoing improvements: Regularly identifying opportunities to improve SEO, landing page content, CTA buttons, etc. 
  • Emergency response: Having a team standing by to address cyberattacks, down servers, and other problems as soon as they emerge.
  • Performance tracking and analytics: Gathering and presenting data around site performance, so it can be used to optimize the customer experience. 
  • Security management: Getting a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate to protect the site and its users against data breaches, phishing scams, and other cyber attacks. 

Team up with Codal for superior website maintenance

Proactive web maintenance is crucial for any growing eCommerce company. Here at Codal, we love helping businesses unlock the full potential of their website. 

Our team of eCommerce experts and software engineers will set you up with a cutting-edge web maintenance plan so that your business can experience stronger customer engagement, improved SEO, greater security, and increased sales. 

With our Amplify offering, you’ll have a dedicated team of engineers, designers, and testers helping you get the most out of your business’ software. We also provide flexible contracts, so you can employ our services in a scalable manner that aligns with your company’s fluctuating budget and needs. 

Ready to get started with a proactive website maintenance plan? Reach out to Codal today!

Gibson Toombs
AUTHOR

Gibson Toombs

Gibson Toombs is a Technical Content Writer at Codal. His writing career began in 2015 after graduating from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Since then, he has worked on many projects, covering a wide range of technical topics, from solar energy to cybersecurity. When he’s not taking complex ideas and turning them into easily-digestible pieces of content, Gibson can be found playing guitar and writing songs at his apartment in Chicago.

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