My website was down – or not fully functional – for four full weeks this summer. Yes, I always am on alert to take care of my clients’ websites but I did not pay enough attention to my own business site.
Fortunately, it did not impact my business immensely because my website is, basically, an online brochure about my achievements, clients, capabilities and blog posts. (I know that is not the case for many businesses, especially those actively involved in new-business conversations.)
But it did eat up a large chunk of my time and energy — and that of my website developer — to resolve the problem. In retrospect, I really should have known better.
At first, my web gurus noted that my “theme” had not been updated since 2013 – yikes! – and I was not running on the latest version of WordPress. To clarify: the theme is like the design template and WordPress is the digital platform that runs most sites. Confusingly, over the years, I have actually had some advice not to update my WordPress platform because there was a question about whether that action would cause some critical errors.
Along the way in the trouble-shooting process, we all recognized that so many facets of my site were outdated that it just crashed. One day it was there, the next day it was not. Surprise! There was no warning.
The lesson learned is: no matter the complexity of your site, be sure your website host or development professional is keeping an eye on your plugins, theme and other vital components that may cause your site to break or disappear if not consistently evaluated and updated. (And let’s not forget cybersecurity; my website drama, luckily, showed no signs of hacking.)
On my end, I thought since I did not have anything sophisticated or tricky on my own website – pop-up or contact boxes, ecommerce functionality, complex integrations – I could coast without too much worry. But, in retrospect, that makes no sense because, like any other technology vehicle, updates and oversight are obviously necessary to avoid problems before they cripple your business.
Kudos to web designer/developer Kevin McNally, founder and CEO at Interactive Palette, who hosted my website on his platform and did a deep dive to investigate the source of the trouble — Kevin attributes it to GoDaddy upgrading their server software (PHP version) without notifying me. He hung in there with me through numerous frustrating customer service calls with my existing provider and, ultimately, sorted out the myriad technology problems to get my site up and running again.
If you are coasting and need help ensuring your site has not been neglected, reach out to me at 401-451-9660 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.