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Website Maintenance

Brian H. Gill

Once a website gets published, the webmaster leans back and relaxes, right?

Maybe. For a day or two, at most.

The moment a website gets published, a responsible webmaster starts tracking the site's performance. One of the simplest, and most useful, statistics to track is how often each page on the site is viewed.

Anything from hit counters to tracking services can be used to record how many hits a page gets. A "hit" is what happens when a browser loads a page. A reasonable assumption is that pages with more hits are more popular with the site's visitors.

A word about hit counters: They're fun, often free, and are seen by many designers as a mark of an amateur site. That's not to say that counters don't have a place on the Web. I use counters on most of Brendan's Island, for example, partly to help me compare more sophisticated tracking systems against the simpler counters.

Counting hits is just a start. Keeping track of data such as how many pages get viewed each day of the week, what cities the visitors. ISPs are in, even what kind of browsers are used, helps build a picture of what sort of visitors a website is attracting. Of course, messages from visitors and orders from the site show how the most interested viewers react.

Tracking where visitors most often enter and leave a site is also important. The "home page" isn't always the entry page, particularly for returning visitors, or people finding the website with the help of a search engine. The first page seen in a site should at least give visitors a clear idea of the website's purpose, and an obvious link to the home page.

Studying this sort of information, a webmaster can evaluate what technical and content changes may be needed.

Which brings us back to content.

Keeping a website up to date is important, since the Web is a very rapidly changing place. Visitors seem to like new information.

At a minimum, updating involves making sure that those "Watch for Our Grand Opening in 2001" announcements get removed.

Weekly specials, a current events column, or some sort of a journal are ways to keep a site's content fresh.

Finally, reviewing a website's structure and content every month or so can uncover rough spots. My own website, Brendan's Island, almost always has a page or two that's going though this check-and-change process.

copyright 2004, Brian H. Gill

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So Whut ef i cant spel?

Use this website's contact form, or
send me an email, if you have questions,
or would like me to help you develop a website.
Brian H. Gill

320 352-2087 telephone
(Central time business hours, Monday-Friday only, please)


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