Updating your website is made possible by something called a Content Management System (CMS). There is much written about content management systems on the web already so if you are interested in delving into the topic we recommend looking into WordPress and Drupal as they are by far the two most prevalent.
The CMS is the software that you use to log into and update your website. This type of software can be customized and offers robustness and versatility. Both Drupal and WordPress are opensouce, and the large communities which back them have programming conventions which we follow. Standards allow anyone to read our code and work with it. Readable code means your website will survive through time.
The website CMS application also bolts on additional software packages as required to perform specialised tasks. Entire marketplaces and repositories centre around extensions for Drupal and WordPress. Pre-built software means that you do not always need to re-invent the wheel. It also means the updates are going to be available when you need them.
Even websites that remain relatively static benefit from a content management system such as WordPress or Drupal. For example, common SEO practices such as meta data and sitemap organisation are cumbersome on static HTML pages. With a CMS you can quickly install an extension to make the work simple.
If you are wondering which CMS to choose, we can help with that decision. Drupal has more flexibility with its taxonomies (categories and content types), but this comes at the cost of complexity. WordPress is more popular and easier to use. WordPress is ideal for smaller websites and Drupal is perfect for larger intranet sites. Both have good user account controls and access management, but WordPress is designed for publishing and only has a handful of account types where Drupal has a much broader scope when it comes to account types. WordPress has a large number of ready-to-go extensions which require less expertise to install where as Drupal can sometimes be quite complex.
Regardless of which management system you choose, both will offer you the ability to log in to your website and publish content. All will allow you to create membership sections and to integrate with 3rd party applications. Image galleries, work portfolios, blogs, articles, and contact forms are standard in all CMS’s.
Presenting your information to the world is only half of the work in maintaining a website. You also need to keep an eye on how the world receives you. With every site that we build we also install additional software to help you do just that.
First and foremost, if your objective is to get traffic, then you want to make sure no glitches prevent that from happening. Take the time to learn how search engines index your website and look for issues.
You can’t directly influence your position in search results by checking the index, but you can use the tools provided to see what they find.
For example, Google Search provides web masters with Search Console which is a program that allows you to see information about how Googlebot sees your site. This information includes crawl rates, indexed meta data, and if their spider ran into issues. They also let you know if they find malware, spam, or if their team has taken manual actions against your site. Using their software is easy, and it alerts you via email when there is a problem.
Website Analytics are precious. An analytics program is a feature configured to work with every website we build. There are two main program flavours we recommend. The first is the widely adopted Google Analytics (GA) which has the benefit of pain-free synchronisation with AdWords. The second is the self-hosted Piwik analytics which allows you to collect even more information on your visitors but requires a little more skill to operate.
Analytics about your visitors will tell you what pages are popular, how long people spend on those pages, and who referred visitors to your site. GA will provide you with aggregate information, while Piwik will provide more detail down to the behaviour of specific users identified by their IP address. Unfortunately, GA does not provide IPs and claims it is for privacy reasons. Because Piwik is installed locally and is open source, you can collect whatever data is available which includes those microscopic details that GA keeps for itself.
Using either of these programs is essential to learning about how your traffic behaves when looking at your content. You will quickly see what portion of your visitors are using a desktop, what geographical areas visit most often, and you can see behavioural patterns like the tendency to always return to the homepage using the back-button rather than clicking the next page. Understanding how to use analytics is vital.
Search engine optimisation (seo) means many things to many people. We don’t offer a simple solution to rank higher in the search results. There are no tricks and those companies that spam your inbox every morning aren’t going to do anything for you. That’s not the kind of seo we recommend managing.
The crawl-ability of your website and the accuracy of indexing is what you need to control. Your management system should provide you with the right amount of flexibility and structure to do just that. It should provide privacy tools to prevent specific pages from being indexed (i.e., robots.txt) and tools to promote indexing of pages (i.e., sitemap.xml). It should also provide you with smart default meta tags (a form of metadata) and offer convenient solutions to fine-tune the meta when required.
Google Search creates what are called rich snippets when the metadata for a product, recipe, or business review show up in the results. This type of rich snippet is valuable to searchers. The metadata informs the snippet. From a technical standpoint, the only concern you should have correctness. A search engine will gauge popularity, and other competitive metrics on its own and show your page when it makes sense to do so.