Maintaining a Site
Designing a web site is only the first step. Managing and maintaining
the site and planning for growth is what keeps your site fresh and useful.
Specifically you should strive to keep your site complete, current and
- Complete - everything important is on the web
- Current - nothing is out of date, archived information is clearly
distinguished from current information
- Cohesive - new pages follow your web site's style guide
Tips for staying Complete, Current, Cohesive
Check Links - Use a tool that checks for broken links on your
site. WebXM is available that will automatically check all the links on your site and send an email reporting any broken links.
Link and File Management - Fixing broken links on a large site
can be tedious and time-consuming. Identifying orphaned files (files that
don't have anything linking to them) can be difficult. Manually keeping
all pages on your site up to date with your style guide can seem impossible.
You can greatly reduce your link and file management workload by doing
- Use relative URLs rather than absolute URLs.
- Make common pieces of your web site modular. Analyze your site looking
for common elements across pages like footers, headers and navigation
bars. Isolate these common elements into a single location that is referenced
by your web pages. Methods for isolating a common element include:
- Use a Site Management Tool, such as Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver gives
you the ability to do the following:
- Check your links site wide or within a page.
- Change the name of a document and have all links pointing to the
document change site wide.
- Use templates or library items to maintain consistency across
- Update the template or library item and have it automatically
update all pages that use that template or library item.
- Synchronizing the files on your local and remote sites.
- Set up Check In/Check Out on files in a collaborative environment.
Checking out a file is the equivalent of saying "Hey, I'm working
on this file now, don't touch it."
- Consider using the refresh option of the meta tag to auto-forward
people from the old location of a page to the new location of a page.
This is helpful for external web sites that have direct links into your
pages. To find out more about the meta tag and how to do a refresh,
check out the Web Monkey article Refresh a Page Using Meta Tags.
Regular Review - Hold regular web site review sessions with your
content providers monthly or quarterly. Suggestions for your meeting agenda:
- Show & Tell - Review new content that was published since
the last meeting. Recognize the people who created the new pages/content
and show appreciation for their efforts in keeping the site complete
- Review - Bring up the major pages of your web site and ask
the group - Is everything current on these pages? Is anything missing
on these pages? Think outside the box/Think like a customer when you
answer these questions.
- Share - Share new tips, techniques and information that can
help your publishers and content providers be even more effective. Give
everyone an opportunity to ask questions.
and analyzing your visitor logs can reveal useful information. You can
tell from your logs what files or pages are most frequently visited and
least frequently visited. It is always a good idea to support server
log analysis with user tests if you are going to use them to make design
decisions. Real people will tell you why something is happening, while
a server log may only vaguely imply.
Conduct Periodic Usability Testing - Ideally, every year or every
other year, you should check with your users to see if you are still
meeting their needs. Running a quick Focus Group or Usability Test can
really help pinpoint opportunities to improve your web site. Don't let
"Focus Group" or "Usability Testing" intimidate you.
I promise that there is a goldmine of information to be found from watching
and listening to your users. For a quick introduction to Usability Testing
check out Learn