Tenrec’s Top 10 Website Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning

With most of the world sheltering in place and working from home since March, many of us have already trudged through all our traditional “Spring Cleaning” projects . (And if you haven’t, we’re not telling.)  Are your bathrooms sparkling, your cabinets organized and your socks all paired up? If so, let us direct your attention to the benefits of cleaning and organizing your virtual world.

Tidying and organizing our physical spaces provides much needed solace in a time of distress, but so too can cleaning out our virtual spaces. Has the number of unread emails in your inbox been haunting you?  Is your DVR full of shows you’re never going to watch? Are your friends and family annoyed by the “This voicemail box is full” message on your phone? We believe that cleaning up these virtual ‘messes’ will give you the same satisfaction as spotless countertops and a linen closet full of folded sheets.

For this article, we’re focusing on websites and how you can rid yourself of some of the digital clutter that builds up like dog hair dust bunnies in these online spaces.

Here are Tenrec’s 10 website spring cleaning tips:

Delete Old Draft Pages

Do you find that you’ve created draft pages that you never used and then promptly forget that content ever existed? Browse through your site content management system and delete everyone of those old drafts right now.

Pro WordPress tip: When you delete a page, you have to first move it to the Trash. If you’re worried about deleting a page you might still need, just leave it in the Trash for a spell. Then empty the Trash later.

Old or Out-of-Date Images Weighing You Down?

Cleaning up image and file folders on a regular basis is a great habit, but sometimes during the hustle of the day that practice gets lost. Clean out your old images today to save disk space and improve site performance. In WordPress, you’ll find your images in the Media Library. In Tenrec’s Darwin Site Manager system, images are stored in the File Manager inside the Images directory.

Pro Tip: While you’re at it, if you spot any extra large images, now is a great time to compress those. Refer to this article for how and when to compress images.

Audit Your User Accounts

Do your online systems contain user accounts for people that have left your company? Or accounts for design and development contractors that have long since moved on? Whether it’s on your website’s content management system, website control panel, FTP server or other virtual resource, compromised user accounts are the primary vectors for unauthorized access to sensitive data. Remove accounts that are out of date and not in use.

Pro Tip: This audit can be extended to your firm’s access control lists (ACLs) where you may find internal users that have access to areas that may no longer be relevant due to a change in their role or position.

Update and Document Your Software Subscriptions

Does your website use web fonts, third party plug-ins or other add-ons for traffic analytics, cookie consent forms, social media integration or other functionality? If so, chances are that you have two or more names, emails and payment types associated with those services. Do yourself a favor and review those accounts and consolidate them under one name, email address and payment type. And create a document that describes each service and when the subscription renews.

Pro tip: Use a shared email address, like web_admin@nullyourcompany.com for these third party accounts to make transferring those accounts easy in the future.

Audit Unneeded Themes and Plugins

Update what you still need, deactivate and ditch what you don’t. Doing this will keep your website running smoothly, can sometimes offer new feature updates, and will definitely keep you ahead of possible compatibility or security related issues down the line.

Check Your Backups

Call or email your website management provider or hosting provider to review the backup schedule for your site. Confirm that incremental backups of your site files and database are made each day and that full backups are made each week, if not more frequently. Also ask if one recent version of your full backup is being stored in a remote location (outside your data center). It should be.

Make a Local and Browsable Copy of Your Website

Depending on the industry your business is in, you may be required to keep copies of marketing materials on file. This is the case for certain financial services companies, for instance, and those regulations usually apply to websites. Even if you’re not required to do this, it’s a great idea to have a saved snapshot of your website that you can refer back to, especially since the wayback machine can be pretty spotty and unreliable.

There are two tools that we use for saving a browsable copy of a website to disk. They are: HTTrack and A1 Website Download. Both tools have free versions and are easy to use.

Pro Tip: Be sure that you have enough disk space to store your website before starting the copy. HTML versions will include a file for every page on your site, meaning they can get pretty big.

Website Documentation

Websites grow and evolve over time. Over their lifespan features are added and removed, functions are changed and little tweaks and idiosyncrasies manifest. Chances are none of this is written down, rather it’s in the heads of you and your website management or marketing team. If you’ve got the bandwidth, creating a document that describes the ins and outs of your website is something that can save you time and headaches in the long run.

Review Your Domain Name Accounts

Do you have  access to the domain name records for your company? Do you have access to your website’s nameserver host? Who is getting the email notifications for renewing your company’s domains? If your domain accounts are tied to individual email addresses in your organization and those email accounts are closed, it may be very difficult to make domain changes in the future.

We’ve seen this kind of thing cause difficulties for our clients time and time again over the years. The worst case scenario is a domain name expiring because the notifications from the registrar were being sent to an ex-employee’s email address. In such a case, if the domain hasn’t been bought by a third party, a registrar will require definitive proof, such as notarized articles of incorporation to re-establish access to an account. Suffice it to say you don’t want this happening to you.

Passwords

It’s never a bad time to revisit passwords to be sure they are strong and have been recently updated. While you’re at it, try enabling 2-Factor Authentication if you haven’t already.

Pro tip: Use a password management tool like Keeper Security, Lastpass or Dashlane. Also, check out this article for some additional password tips.

As always, we’re here to answer your questions and to help you with your spring cleaning or any other website need you have. You can reach us at info@nulltenrec.com or 888-983-6732. And of course we’re on the web at www.tenrec.com.

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