Four website disasters and how to prevent them.

How to prevent website disasters
You’ve heard of Earth Day, International Women’s Day and World Book Day, but we’re willing to bet that World Backup Day has thus far escaped your attention. And that’s a shame, because its underlying message is close to our hearts: preventing website problems before they become disasters.

Whilst you’ve missed World Backup Day this year (it was on 31st March), don’t let that stop you being prepared for every eventuality, all year round.

Here’s our rundown of the most common website problems and what you can do to keep your business up and running.

1. Loss of data

Squirrels chewing through cables, trucks crashing into transformers and thieves tunnelling through walls are three of the stranger causes of data loss.

The message is: expect the unexpected. It’s not just big events like fire or flooding that can wreak havoc. A client of ours updated a WordPress theme, only to find that the update was riddled with bugs.

The solution is to back up everything regularly. Depending on the nature of your business, that could be as infrequently as once a week if your website is primarily for marketing. Or twice daily if you run an e-commerce operation.

It’s also essential to store backups in more than place. Not only in your own office but in at least one offsite location such as a data centre.

Finally, it’s good practice to keep separate backups of your website’s code (the theme if it runs on WordPress) and the database, which contains the content.

Action: Ask your web host about backups and make a backup schedule. You never know when those squirrels might get hungry.

2. Errors on your website

Reputation is everything in business. The last thing you need is tweets and Facebook posts complaining about error messages or broken links.

If your website is integral to the operation of your business, you may be losing custom all the while that you’re unaware of problems.

Those problems are a lot easier fix if you use a tool like Rollbar to continuously monitor your website. It alerts you to errors and tells you where and how often they occur.

Action: Ask your web host what error-reporting technology they use and how errors and issues are handled.

3. Your website isn’t secure

Website security doesn’t just apply to e-commerce sites that take customers’ credit cards. You may have a members area on your website, or a contact form that collects personal data.

Clearly you don’t want to be responsible for losing data, especially given that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) comes into force in May.

The solution to preventing this happening is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). It secures the link between someone’s web browser and your website to ensure that hackers (humans or machines) can’t eavesdrop and steal data.

There are two other benefits of SSL, beyond simply making your website secure.

  • By virtue of having it, SSL demonstrates to the world that you care about security and therefore that your business is trustworthy.
  • It helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Google now takes into account when ranking your site.

 Action: When it’s time to renew your web hosting package, if not earlier, make sure your provider includes an SSL certificate.

4. Poor user experience

Imagine that you could sit next to customers when they use your website, watching where they click and – more importantly – where they don’t.

You might even see them hit their mouse buttons in frustration if parts of your website don’t do what they expect – also known as ‘rage clicks’.

Fortunately, it’s easy to see exactly where your website is going wrong. Google Analytics provides some clues, but you’ll get a more comprehensive overview using FullStory.

FullStory is a tool that provides replays of a visitor’s experience. It reveals how they clicked, tapped and scrolled around your website, helping you optimise the user experience.

If you need more information about any of the above, or if you’ve suffered these problems in the past, contact us.