A wayward website: The image above is what it looks like to visitors when Google smacks a website’s hand for not listening to the hired web professional.
Designing easy-to-use websites is at the core of what we do at Brand Shepherd, and we accomplish that by building websites on the WordPress platform. We view design as being as much about what it looks like as how it works, as well as why it should look and work as it does. It’s a cohesive design approach: What, how, why.
Out of that thinking comes an important part of our web creations: Training.
We include two hours of in-person training with our clients, and an additional two hours for Q&A as they learn to use WordPress. By the time we are done with a website project, we have equipped our client with a working knowledge of how to use their new website to better their business.
WordPress Websites Require Maintenance
During training we cover the topic of maintenance. Every website requires maintenance, and if WordPress has just one potentially unattractive flaw, it’s the on-going maintenance required to keep it secure and stable. It’s a worthy trade-off, though: A powerful, easy to use web tool needs attention. The website is selling 24/7/365, so in the big picture, time required for maintenance is not too much to ask.
We train our clients on the importance of regular backups, of keeping plugins and WordPress itself running on their latest versions. Since late 2012 we include the Wordfence Security plugin to scan websites for flaws and security alerts. Not only that, but during training we cover how to perform updates. It’s usually no more than 3 clicks of a mouse.
Given all of the aforementioned training and attention to detail, it is always baffling to visit a client’s website months later, and be greeted with Google’s Red Screen Of Impending Doom.
The cause: They didn’t take training seriously.
On the surface the rationale for a neglected website sounds like something else: Forgot how to do it… Too busy… Forgot to do it… Didn’t think it was important…
If a business is going to spend money and time on a new or refreshed website, engage in hours of training on how to use and maintain it, and additionally be told about the importance of keeping the website updated, the blame for seeing Google’s red warning screen rests firmly on the business owner. There is no reasonable excuse for this.
Once Google has scanned a website and determined it may be potentially harmful to visitors’ devices, it takes weeks to reclaim good standing. During that time any visitor that finds the neglected website via search engine is greeted with some type of warning that the website may be harmful. This communicates to visitors that A.) the business is not legit, B.) the business may have closed, and C.) the business is of an old frame of mind, one that does not give importance to their website. Visitors will move on to a competitor without hesitation, and the business loses SEO equity.
To avoid this mess the solution is simple: Listen to a professional when they are doing what they were hired to do.
What’s more, when it comes time to perform maintenance tasks and the information is proving hard to recall, pick up the phone and call for help. Whether it’s Brand Shepherd, or any other creative professional worthy of being called a professional, the reminder Q&A will be treated with respect and not condescension.
Believe me, creative professionals want the businesses we work with to thrive if for no other reason than to be hired again.
As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”