Every now and then, a situation arises when you’ll need to change content on your website. Maybe you want to announce a new product or service, or an upcoming event, or a time-sensitive sales promotion. Perhaps you have opened up a new satellite office to get closer to your customers? All these updates to your business need to reflect on your website as early as possible, if not in real-time.
Whether you’ll be making the changes yourself or your web designer will make the updates, a good plan on the process will make the update efficient and effective. If you will be working with a web designer/webmaster, make sure you discuss the entire plan on ‘how to request a website update’ with them way beforehand.
What to consider when preparing to make website changes
So what should you consider when planning to make changes to your website? Here are a few tips to help you make effective changes and avoid any issues:
The early bird
Always start planning early to make the website changes and avoid last-minute action. 1-2 months in advance is ample time for you to start preparing for your website changes. When you plan early, you stay in control and also have enough time to make adjustments should they arise.
This is especially important if you are not the one implementing the changes. Try and be as descriptive as possible to make it easier for the changes to be implemented. Clarity is needed for both the content, the change required, and the time allocated for each update. If you are not the one making the changes, be sure to consult with your webmaster about the actual/realistic time that may be needed for the process.
Break down the elements
What content will be included in your changes?
- Is it written text only?
- Will you need any images?
- Do you want to include a video or special graphics?
- Should the new information you’re sharing also go out in social media posts or emails?
- Are you planning to translate the content into another language to reach a unique audience?
- Do you need to get or purchase any special permission or license for your content – if so, how long will that take?
- What is your draft-to-review-to-approval process, and how long does it typically take?
All of these questions influence how much time you will need for the process, but my go-to rule of thumb is: Whatever content you intend to work with, make sure it is prepared well in advance, and plan for hidden bumps in the road so you don’t have to pull an all-nighter when you want to launch.
Create a backup of your site
As a best practice, it is advisable to keep your foot on the brake pedal before you start your car. This gives you some form of safety net just in case of anything. In the same breath, before making major changes to your website, make sure it is backed up. Backing up your website protects you in case something goes wrong and you need to restore your site.
You should be able to create a backup at your server control panel, or there are plugins you can add that will create the backup at the click of the button. There are several different plugins that you can use. We recommend that if you will be doing a lot of editing on your site, create a backup before each session. With some of the plugins, you can save the archive off to Google Drive or Dropbox so you’re not filling your server. Here’s a great article by WP Beginner that highlights the leading backup plugins available.
Every website has a downtime when the volume of site visitors is typically lower than usual. When planning for your changes, avoid busy times to make sure you don’t inconvenience your site visitors. The worst case would be if an issue came up while you were making changes and caused your site to be offline temporarily. This causes your visitors to see an error message which is definitely not what you want.
You can view your traffic flow on AWStats (a popular website tracking plugin in your server control panel – cPanel) or Google Analytics.
With WordPress, there are “maintenance” plugins where you visitors will see a message & you can safely work behind the scenes. Or, if the changes are big enough, copy your site & create a “development” site where you can safely do your work & then re-launch the site with all the changes.
When you plan early for website changes, you not only save time but give room for accuracy and precision, along with some wiggle room for adjustments in case of any eventualities. It also guarantees a more seamless process devoid of the stress that may come with poor planning or lots of back and forth.
The actual amount of time you need really depends on the number and nature of changes that you want to make.
A good practice is to have a Marketing Calendar for the year – where you plan out your events, promotions, milestones, and any other items that you know you’ll want to highlight. From there, knowing your own process and time to create content, schedule your website changes ahead of time. If you don’t have one, you can use our marketing calendar template we share with clients when we do our Growth Strategy Sessions.
- Write down a list of all the changes you would want to make on your website.
- Prepare a plan on how you intend to make these changes using the tips we shared.
Your Online Partner… for Success
Do you need to make changes to your site, but are overwhelmed in trying to tackle them on your own? Take advantage of a free 30-minute session with Christy for coaching on how you can do them, or exploring how we can work with you to accomplish the changes you want to make.