Websites need regular - if not constant - management. Web admins have to deal with day-to-day tasks like contact form messages, online bookings and transactions as well as adding the latest news stories, events and blog posts and keeping regular content pages up-to-date. Most websites will automatically archive old news stories, blogs and past events, but there's still a lot to manage, especially if website management is just one of the many hats that you wear.

I've written before how to declutter a website (has Marie Kondo done that yet?) This can be a big task if a website has been allowed to grow unchecked for many years, however, if you set aside time at least once a year to look over the site structure and review content it can be much more manageable. 

The home page is the most important page on the website and updating it is a quick and easy win. Is everything accurate and up-to-date? Hopefully it's not still showing the Happy Christmas message from last year. Is the welcome message correct and relevant? Do prominent links and featured boxes highlight the key sections of the website? Are there are any new hero or banner images you could add?


Let it go

Generally, people are terrible at letting things go (and yet so bad at making backups - go figure). It's especially easy to turn a blind eye to digital files because they aren't filling up the spare room.

Tidying and deletion should be at least an annual task, or even better an automated one. Decide how many years you want to keep news (the clue is in the name) and delete old stories once they pass their expiry date.

If your privacy policy states that online messages, bookings and transactions will only be held for, say, 3 years, you should delete them once that time has elapsed. For data security reasons as much as good housekeeping, it's better to store the minimum data you need. The more data you have online, or even on your office computers, the more devastating a data breach would be.


The Purge

If you get the spring clean bug (or find yourself with time on your hands) it's worth considering all the old files on your website. All the files that make up your website live on a web server, or more likely a cluster of servers. Files take up disk space and disk space costs money. The images and PDFs that are no longer linked from pages on your website could be removed.

If you delete out-of-date files, other websites can't link to them. Danny von Kooten makes a good point that bloated websites have real-world consequences in terms of CO2 emissions; in our experience, it's images (particularly raw images that haven't been resized for the web) which take up the most disk space.

There is no quick, easy way to do this. Xenu, the link checking programme, has an orphaned file option. A more destructive way would be to move all your images into an old folder and then check for broken links: the only images you need to move back are the ones reported as missing.

If you're *really* organised you could store files by date: for example, put your news images in folders that contain the year in their name, so you can delete them as you clear out old news stories.


Digital legacy

The same principle applies to your personal files. Do you really need those spreadsheets from over 10 years ago?

It's great to take photos but it's also great to delete the duplicate and out of focus ones. This year we created a "Best of" album for our 2019 photos which we'll add to our image backups. It was a fun New Year's activity - definitely more fun than making resolutions! Not only has this helped us identify the photos we want to keep but it's now easier to look through them again in future. After all, what's the point of having so many photos if you don't look at them every now and again?

The digital legacy that we will pass on alongside our worldly possessions is not something that many people consider, but it can be just as time-consuming to sift through. 

Tagged under: Build a better website   Content   Environment  

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