Domain Registration : Discount Domain Pricing : Website and Domain Hosting : Frontpage 2000 Hosting : Website Development and Promotion : Secure E-Commerce : Shopping Cart Software : Linux and Windows NT : Graphic Design : Free Email Services : Fast Servers : Low Cost!


Having your own website requires a lot of time, thought, and resources in the initial planning and implementation, but creating it is only half the battle. Once you have actually put the site online, the challenge lies in updating and maintaining it. Keeping your site fresh encourages people to return. Poor maintenance is a sure way of getting rid of visitors, perhaps permanently.

Maintaining Your Site Maintenance generally means making sure that your files and file directory structures are up and running properly at all times. Since HTML documents and their related graphics components are linked in specific ways, any changes or additions that you make to existing documents or directories could affect or alter their relationship to one another. The most common result is that links are broken, images are mixed up, or pages do not load properly. User feedback, usually via e-mail, can play a big part in flagging these types of problems so they can be resolved in a timely manner.

Maintenance for a small site can take as little as two to three hours a month. On a large site, maintenance can be a full-time job. Be sure to incorporate the costs of maintenance into your budget during the planning phase so it does not take you by surprise. If you're planning a large, ambitious site or want to gradually add more content and complexity to it, working with an experienced designer and programmer from the outset can save you a lot of time and hassle later on. Starting with a well-designed site is the most effective way to prevent resource-intensive updates and maintenance. Experienced web developers average about $75 per hour. This may sound steep, but it is well worth the cost if you want to incorporate advanced features like inline animation, forms, or search tools.

Keeping Your Site Up-To-Date Updating your site entails changing the content. This can be as simple as checking links to other sites to make sure they are current, or as complex as adding new to capability to forms. The resources and cost of keeping a website current and operational depend on the size and complexity of the site and how often it needs to be updated.

Remember, adding new content does not necessarily mean scrapping the old. Some kinds of dated material like press releases, software updates, articles or transcripts of speeches can be useful to users and should be archived. Make sure that archived information is organized in a way that is easy to access. Another simple way of letting users know that you've updated your site or specific pages is to add a notation. Notice how we do this on Learn the Net in the upper right corner of each page.

Maintenance Strategies How do you come up with an effective maintenance strategy? Start by deciding how often you need or want to update your site and how extensive those updates will be. For example, a news publisher will likely want to update information on a daily basis, in some cases, even hourly. A retailer will want to update its site whenever there is new or discontinued merchandise or for special sales or promotions.

Next, pay attention to what your users are doing and saying. How many people are visiting your site and where are they going? There are ways of tracking which parts of your site are being frequented. If your site is hosted by an Internet service provider, it should supply you with detailed and timely tracking information. A number of shareware and commercial tracking utilities are available to people who run their own servers. At Learn the Net, we are particularly fond of IISA Assistant from MediaHouse Software. It runs on a WindowsNT server and gives you information in real time as to who is on your website, where they are coming from, which files they are accessing, and a lot more.

Provide a way for users to give you feedback. The most common method is via email. Use that information to identify and resolve technical problems in a timely manner. Use qualitative comments about the site along with usage tracking data, to guide your decisions about what content to keep, replace, or improve. If you are pressed for time or resources, maintaining a simple database of all your pages, including a brief description of each page's content, related links and graphics files, can be very helpful. As your site grows, or if you hand over maintenance to someone else, the database will come in handy. Software that uses this type of database to automate a lot of the updating is available.

Copyright © 1995-2003 Sidetrips™ Internet Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express
written permission of Sidetrips Internet Services, Inc. is prohibited.

sidetrips.com™, hostserver.com™, registera.com™, htmlshop.com™,
and associated domains are trademarks of Sidetrips™ Internet Service, Inc.

Privacy Policy | Acceptable Use Policy | Terms of Service