Thanks to the wonder of modern, user-friendly interfaces and visual builders, performing basic maintenance and adding new content to your website has never been more accessible. You can update your pages or post a new blog in just a few clicks! That said, it is always best to proceed with caution when poking about the backend of your website. Small missteps or omissions can set you on course for hefty hurdles down the road.
Here at Teapot Creative, we do our best to make sure everything goes smoothly within your brand’s digital domain. However, we do find that there are a few pesky pitfalls that website owners stumble into. With that in mind, read on to learn about some of the common slips that we know you might encounter – and find out how you can steer well clear of them!
Clear That Cache
We all know how important site speed is for keeping customers satisfied. One of the nifty resources that keeps your website loading swiftly is a function called caching. Through this process, the browsers of people who visit your website, including you, will store some of the data from your site so that they don’t need to re-request it every time a new page is loaded. Some website owners will need to keep an eye on caching on their server’s side too.
Sometimes, when we make changes to a website, a backlog of old cache files can cause problems, making those new alterations invisible. When doing a lot of tinkering, regularly clearing browser and server caches is vital if you want to be certain that you can see what your audience will see. So, place clearing your cache within your site maintenance routine, particularly if you are often busy tweaking!
Consistency Is King
Your website’s tone and aesthetic are powerful tools for sculpting how your business is perceived. Keeping presentation consistent and polished works wonders for building trust in your brand – keeping customers coming back for more. This makes it vital to follow the look, layout, and structure of the rest of your site whenever you create new pages. If visitors click on a link that lands them somewhere with a totally different vibe, they are likely to have an “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” moment, and this can be very off-putting!
Optimise Those Images
Great visuals make a website so much more compelling – they do not say “a picture is worth 1000 words” for nothing. However, failing to optimise the images you use on your website can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, gigantic image files can slow your website’s load-time down to a snail’s pace. On the other, using images that are of low quality or too small can leave your visitors frowning at a mess of pixels. At both ends of the scale, non-optimal images will send all the wrong messages!
To stride right over this potential pitfall, make sure that you start with fantastic, vibrant, high resolution images. Then, use an image optimiser to make sure the file hits the goldilocks sweet spot for loading right and looking great on the page. It can be really handy to familiarise yourself with pixels, so that you can understand how image sizes relate to normal computer screen displays.
Skip Hosting Shortcuts
There are a lot of cheap hosting providers out there, so why pay more than the minimum for your hosting plan? £50 per year for hosting might seem like a great bargain, but it’s important to recognise that you might not be getting such a top deal for your money after all. Cheap hosting can leave you wondering why your site is slow, why you’re experiencing down time, or why you can’t get any support when issues arise.
When selecting your host service, look for a reputable company that offers solid security, 24/7 support, ample storage, has a stellar uptime record, and crucially, a top-notch backup service. For as long as your site is happy and healthy, backups might be the last thing on your mind. However, if you make site changes or run an update and something breaks, your host’s backup service will become your instant best friend.
On-Point On Updates
All of the clever stuff that makes up the building blocks for your website is constantly being updated. New versions of WordPress, your favourite plugins, and even programming languages will constantly be evolving. This allows you to stay competitive and effectively safeguard your customer’s data against security risks.
Running updates is vital for keeping all of the different elements of your site compatible with each other and everything working as it should. Ignoring update prompts will eventually lead to all manner of problems and might even cause your site to break! That said, sometimes updates can have teething problems too, so backing up your site before your periodic update overhaul is more than prudent.
You might see warnings on the dashboard of your site, reminding you to install the latest version of this, that, or the other. For example, ‘you should currently be running PHP 7.4 on your WordPress site’. If there is a PHP prompt waiting for you next time you login, don’t ignore it! Take a deep breath, check you backup status, and then get everything up to scratch.
Step Into Your Visitor’s Shoes
Whenever you make a change to your site, whether it’s adding something new, taking something away, or running an update on the backend – don’t forget to check that your visitor’s experience is still golden. Step into their shoes and navigate through your site from time to time. Test your checkout flow and contact forms. Make sure your subscription sign-up is working and ensure site emails are being delivered and not landing in your spam folder. By constantly using the customer experience as a touchpoint, you can deliver an ever-improving experience, and catch any issues that might otherwise have been missed.
We all make mistakes from time to time, but hopefully this article will help you navigate around some of the most common pitfalls of DIY web tinkering! If you do come a cropper, don’t panic. The Teapot Creative team are ready to come to your rescue! Check out our extensive support services to see how we can assist you today.