Unlike most brick-and-mortar stores, online stores stay open 24 hours a day—a boon for busy customers and late-night scrollers, and a blessing for business owners as well. You can see sales roll in without needing to keep lights on and staff on-hand.
But just because an online store doesn’t need sales associates and store managers doesn’t mean it can be run hands-free. Websites need management, too, and regular upkeep is crucial to an online store’s success. Read on to learn more about the elements of website management.
What is website management?
Website management is the practice of maintaining and updating your website over time. The goals of website management are analogous to managing a physical store: Keep it attractive, uncluttered, safe, and easy to find.
Website management is particularly important for ecommerce businesses because a website is an integral part of a user completing their customer journey. Potential customers may use your website to learn more about your offerings, make purchases, get customer support, and even leave feedback. Without proper website management, customers may be unable to do any or all of these steps.
Whether you decide to hire a website management company, delegate the task to an in-house employee, or do it yourself with some web management tools, effective website management is crucial to keeping your online store glitch-free and running smoothly, which can directly affect your conversion rates, credibility, and brand loyalty.
Elements of website management
There are five core elements of website management that help maintain a seamless web experience for visitors. Although some (like design) are immediately obvious to visitors, and others (like technical performance) are not, they’re all crucial to maintaining a well-functioning ecommerce store.
Just as a physical store needs to prevent break-ins, online stores need to prevent hacks and ensure that customer data like addresses and credit card information is secure. The three most important security practices for website management are:
- Maintaining security certificates. The most common certificate is called SSL, which tells browsers and visitors that the site’s server can’t be accessed by anyone. When a site has an SSL certificate, all of its URLs start with “https” (the more secure protocol) instead of “http” (unsecure). This certificate needs to be renewed regularly.
- Regular site backups. By maintaining backup files of your site and capturing its code after each change, you can return your site to normal after a hack or malfunction.
- Regular updates. Website security vulnerabilities often happen when a business website isn’t kept up to date. Some content management systems (CMS) and frameworks like Shopify automatically update over time. Others, like WordPress and most of its plug-ins, require manually triggered updates. These updates should be reviewed and accepted regularly.
Brick-and-mortar stores are expected to adhere to standards of accessibility, such as wheelchair access. The web has similar standards for accessibility online, designed to support internet use for people with disabilities including blindness, deafness, and learning disabilities. The universally accepted standards are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The three most important practices that website managers can adhere to are:
- Text alternatives for non-text content. Provide alt text for images, transcripts for videos, and captions for audio. This ensures that users who can’t see or hear your content can still understand it.
- Contrast and color. Ensure sufficient contrast between text and background colors. Avoid using color as the only way to convey information, as this can be problematic for color-blind users.
- Accessible forms. Label form elements clearly, and provide error messages and instructions that are easy to understand. Ensure that all form controls are keyboard-accessible without the need for a mouse.
Part of a website manager’s role is ensuring these standards are kept in place as the website changes over time. Often, a website is initially built with accessibility in mind, but moves away from this as various team members make updates without considering accessibility.
A website manager should ensure that every page on their site loads quickly and without errors on all devices. They can influence this by following web development best practices, such as mobile-first HTML/CSS, ensuring images are sized to their view window and updating broken links. Additionally, they can review their hosting provider, plug-ins, apps, and CMS to ensure they have the right suite of services for their website performance needs.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your website to rank highly in search results, without paying for ads. On-page SEO is a subset of this practice that’s highly relevant to website management. It’s focused on making changes on your site (as opposed to collaborating with other websites) that help search engines discover and understand your content.
On-page SEO practices for website managers include ensuring proper use of title tags and headers, reviewing internal linking structure, and using Google Search Console to detect errors.
Even if SEO is not core to your digital marketing strategy, it’s an important part of website management as it relates directly to accessibility and technical performance. And it helps websites rank for their own brand name, which every business should want to own.
Most people think of website management as a technical practice. However, having a website with a modern, user-friendly interface and visually appealing look is just as important to online success as the other practices listed here.
Websites don’t need to be redesigned constantly. But every addition to a website, such as a new product page or landing page, should be created with design in mind. Additionally, web design standards and tastes change over time. If your website hasn’t been redesigned in more than five years, you may have an opportunity to update it to match your visitors’ expectations of what the modern web feels like.
Website management FAQ
How much do you pay someone to manage a website?
Website management often can be a part of the responsibilities of a marketing manager, SEO specialist, or web developer, as opposed to a separate job—although you might consider outsourcing to a website management service. Small business owners can also hire web agencies or freelancers who offer website management services; their rates can range from $500 to $5,000 per month, depending on the management agency’s experience, location, and scope of work.
What are the five elements of website management?
The five most important elements of website management are security, accessibility, technical performance, on-page SEO, and design.
What tools are needed for website management?
The most important of all website management tools is your content management system (CMS). This is where you make changes to your site’s content and code. Other helpful tools for website management are web hosting platforms like GoDaddy and SEO analysis tools like Google Search Console.