You know you have them: pesky, poorly-functioning or long-outdated spots around the edges of your web site. You've seen them accidentally, perhaps when you've ego-surfed your company and found forgotten pages in the search results. You've been called by a prospective client or donor on a phone number you were sure you had deleted from the site months ago. Maybe you even see these awful stains on your otherwise-perfect site every single day, and you've been intending to deal with them soon. Tomorrow afternoon, maybe. Just as soon as you find the login...
Face it: you're leaving these blemishes visible to the world and everyone. A client of mine once referred to his content strategy (before we began working together) as "triage and benign neglect," and I can tell you with certainty that he wasn't the only one with this half-attentive strategy for managing his organization's web presence.
So what is a busy, slightly neglectful web site owner to do?
Make a List
You can start by making a list of issues that need addressing. There is no need for you to learn to use project management software or program an extensive spreadsheet. You can use digital sticky notes, a text document, or a piece of notebook paper stuck to the wall over your desk with a pushpin -- whatever is the easiest way you have to keep an informal list. Make your life easier by including the following:
- The page URL (address in your browser window)
- The name of the page ("All About Us")
- The problem itself ("Misspelled 'action' as 'acton' in the first paragraph" or "phone number is wrong at the bottom")
Gather Your Tools
If you've been waiting to fix these issues for a while, you may not have all the information you need at your disposal -- or in your memory. You'll need to be sure you have:
- The address of your content management system's administrator/dashboard (Hint: in WordPress, it's usually your domain name followed by /wp-admin. In Joomla, it's usually your domain name followed by /administrator.)
- The login and password you need to get into the administrator/dashboard.
- Instructions on how to find and edit the content that needs changing. Hopefully, your original web site designer or developer gave you some basic guides. If not, there are lots of tutorials around the web that will help you make changes in WordPress, Joomla, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and many others.
There are five exclamation marks there because this might be the most important step. Especially when you are about to make changes to your site for the first time in a while, you should always be sure the site is backed up. If you make a mistake and delete something you didn't intend to delete, or edit something that affects the look-and-feel of the whole site, you always want to be sure you can revert to the last time your site was at least marginally usable. Ask your hosting company how often they back up your site and, if you need it, how long it would take for them to restore your site from that backup.
Schedule Your Work Session...
This has not been completed by you until now because it had not yet risen to the top of your priority list. The best way to ensure that it finally rises above other tasks is to put it into your calendar. Set aside more time than you think you'll need and make a point of writing it down (or typing it in). "Monday, 2pm to 3pm: Web Site Changes." Then stick to it!
...Or Hire Someone to Get It Done
Once you've gotten this far, it would be such a waste to see this put on the backburner again. Something that you think might take you a few hours is likely not much work at all for an experience web designer or developer. If you decide that this is a priority but that you simply don't have enough time to get it done, bite the bullet and outsource this stain removal. You might be surprised at how quickly they can complete this set of problems you've been dreading and putting off for months.
You likely put tremendous effort into building your web site. You link to it on your business cards, in social media, and in the signature of every email you send. It is a tremendous shame to let a few irritating smears of bad writing, errors, or misinformation sully the reputation and overall presentation of your work. Get to it!
Does the idea of actually doing all this make you squirm? Jebraweb is offering web maintenance packages on a monthly basis as well as a "to-do list" service. If you want to learn more about how we work with clients to clean up their sites, check in with us via email, Facebook or Twitter.