Keeping Your Site Healthy

Your site is never done. This is a hard truth and an exhilarating truth if you embrace it. Here’s why and how.

Tech Health & Safety: Backups, Updates, & Security

Owning a website is a responsibility. Assuming you’re using self-hosted WordPress, it’s important that you keep your site safe from harm and disaster, no matter how unlikely that seems. The recipe for technical health has three ingredients: backups, updates, and security.

You backup your site so that you have a copy should something go wrong. That going wrong could be a data loss (site is gone) or a break (bug in code or hack). Having backups means you have the peace of mind that you won’t lose too much work should something terrible happen to your site.

You update your site so that you get every security fix and improvement. Updates often have the benefit of bringing new features and bug fixes too! Among CMSes, WordPress blows other sites out of the water when it comes to ease of updates and the general infrequency of those updates causing problems. Assuming you’re using well-vetted plugins (and not too many plugins!), updates should go smoothly most of the time.

Finally, you take every security precaution you can. That means strong passwords, one person per user account, and hopefully some type of security scanning plugin.

I highly recommend Sucuri for WordPress security. I install it on every client site I maintain. Sucuri tries to block potential weaknesses, scans to proactively find a hack as soon as it occurs, and unhacks your site for you.

If you do all three things, you’re less likely to experience problems with your site AND more prepared to deal with problems should they occur.

Content Health: Growth & Pruning

Your website’s content is like a garden and you are the gardener!

Over time certain information becomes out of date, incorrect, or just stale. Returning to your site at least once a year to edit and remove content is extremely important. If you can do this regularly, even better. Don’t go overboard and start over or delete everything, just wisely trim where needed and fix up any pages that are showing their age.

You’ll also probably need to add new information to your site. That means both timely content like news stories, blog posts, and events as well as information about new programs, staff and board members, or whatever else your organization does that it didn’t do before! If you have a particularly active “blog” or “news” section, consider writing about issues impacting nonprofits working in the same field as you.

Bottom line: your website will be many people’s first interaction with your nonprofit (or a crucial second or third for others), and you want to make sure that your site is accurate and showcases the organization in the best possible way.

Do You Know Your Doctor?

Even if you chose not to work with a volunteer or pay a consultant, I strongly recommend you find someone who can help you should your site ever break beyond your ability to fix it. If possible, find a small project for them so that they can learn about your site and you can establish a relationship with them so they’re available when you need them.

Good consultants are hard to find, so once you have one, be nice to them! 😉

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