Get our your brooms!

Spring Cleaning Your Website!

Just like you spring clean your house, every nonprofit website needs some attention every now and then to keep your site healthy. Given that it’s almost May, it’s time to get to it!

Plugins & Themes

If you’re a website administrator, head on over to Plugins > Installed Plugins and Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin.

Read through the description of each plugin and make sure you still need it. Delete plugins that you don’t use and are deactivated, and see if you can deactivate any plugins you don’t need anymore.

For themes, delete all themes except the one you’re using. I used to leave one backup theme, but I don’t even do that anymore.

Why prune your plugins and themes? There are a few reasons:

  1. Some security issues in plugins and themes can still be used even if the plugin or theme is not active!
  2. While hosting space is cheap (usually “unlimited”), there’s no need to store extra files you won’t need and can easily download again. Worse yet, that extra code can bloat your backup files (see below!)
  3. Fewer themes & plugins means fewer updates to manage!
  4. You should know what powers your site and always aim to keep your site lean and efficient. Using fewer plugins might speed up your site, reduce clutter in your admin, and provide one less source for a potential problem in the future.

Check Your Backups

Assuming you have automated backups—you do have automated backups, right?—go to where they are stored and make sure that they are current and working as expected. If you have the technical ability, try to actually restore one on a test site to ensure these backups actually work! You get bonus points for saving a copy to your local hard drive as a backup-backup-backup.

Test Your Forms

Where I live in Seattle, GiveBig is coming up soon. No matter what, imagine your donation form hasn’t been working for who knows how long and you don’t know how many donations you’ve lost. That would be terrible! Try making a quick test donation on your site to ensure it works. (Feeling panicky? This post isn’t going anywhere.)

This is also always a good reminder to you of what your site visitors go through when trying to make a donation. Could it be better? Make sure you get automated receipts and thank you messages!

Besides your donation form, test your contact form, newsletter signup form and any other forms to make sure they work and create any notification emails you expect. If those forms are connected to other services or databases like MailChimp or Salesforce, make sure your test submissions accurately import into those as well.

Audit Your Content

A website is never “done.” If you haven’t reviewed your site in a while, it’s likely that something is out of date. Is your Staff page showing all current members with accurate emails? Has one of your programs shifted focus? Have you accomplished something major and not shared it with your website visitors yet?

Click through your site, edit what’s out of date, and make a list of what you need to add or significantly revise. Remember though that just because something isn’t current doesn’t mean you should delete it.

No Excuses!

I guarantee that an hour of reviewing your site will make it better! That’s something to take pride in! So close this window, log in to your website, and get clicking!


Update! It’s May 9, 2016 and I just posted a followup to this with some great recommendations from members of the Nonprofit Technology Network about even more spring cleaning tasks for your website. (And they really think you should do a content audit too!)

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