Chores Are for Kids—Outsource Your Website Maintenance

Perhaps at some point in your life, you learned enough HTML to put together a website for your business. Maybe it was back in the early days of the web, when a trained monkey could create a web page (and, judging by the quality of many websites back then, a lot of trained monkeys were doing exactly that).

But time goes on, and priorities change. You’re too busy running your business to worry much about maintaining your website. Good thing for your business, not so much for your website. Here are some signs that it might be time to hand over the website maintenance reins to someone else—and not your 12-year-old niece, but a professional that you (gasp!) pay for.

You have a visitor counter or a guest book.

These features were ubiquitous back in the day, but honestly, they were pretty pointless even then. No one cares how many times your homepage has been visited, and half of the count (if not more) is from you anyway. The “guest book” (where site visitors could supply their email addresses and leave comments) was useful only for people who liked getting spam. Get some actual analytics that you can really use to make marketing decisions, and put some real interactivity on your site.

You use tables or framesets for layout.

Hey, the ’90s called; they want their websites back. These are firmly old-school layout techniques and have long since been supplanted by the more flexible and useful <div> tag.

Your site lacks <style>.

Cascading style sheets (CSS)—whether embedded in the HTML or referenced in a separate file—give you much more control over typefaces, colors, and other visual effects than the old method of applying font= or color= attributes in the HTML tags. More recent versions of CSS are more powerful than ever.

Your site gets hacked. A lot.

Old-style websites are more vulnerable to hacking. Of course, if you have an old-style website, you may have little to lose except the contents of your guest book, but it’s still worthwhile to upgrade your site and prevent hacking mischief.

You’re still managing content by coding HTML. By hand. In a text editor.

Managing your content by going into the raw HTML is a good way to really mess things up on your site. (Ever seen the results when someone forgets the closing tag? Not pretty.) What-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) HTML editors were a step in the right direction, but with modern sites (such as those built on the WordPress platform), you don’t even need that—they come with built-in content editors that make it almost impossible to mess anything up. (However, they can’t make you update your content, so if your last blog entry was from 15 months ago, that’s your own lookout.)

Your idea of a script is something Shakespeare wrote.

There’s a whole world of automation, interactivity, and visual effects that can be added with deft application of JavaScript. There are few modern websites that don’t have at least a few lines of JavaScript code in them somewhere. It’s a whole new programming language to learn, however, and it’s less forgiving of errors than straight HTML. So if you don’t have the time or patience for it, it’s better left to professional web developers.

Your SEO strategy is “I’ll get around to it someday.”

If you have no time to maintain your website, you probably have no time for search engine optimization (SEO). And if that’s the case, your competitors are leaving you on about the 238th page of Google search results. There are numerous development techniques these days for enhancing your search results.

You have blinking text anywhere in your site.

Enough said.