11 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Website

Living in Florida, I don’t personally adhear to the seasonal nature of spring cleaning.  In fact, with the highs around 70 right now, I’d like to spend a few hours in the garage in the next couple of weeks before it starts to feel like an oven in there again. 

There’s a bike in there that’s broken and either need to be fixed or put out to the curb.  There are some toys that my kids have outgrown and need to be taken to Good Will.  There are tools that were laid on my workbench and need to be put away and reorganized.  There are the boxes that I kept just in case items I bought broke and needed to be returned.  And then there’s lots of dirt and leaves that have blown in over the last several months.

Things have started to pile up and get cluttered.  Sometimes I can’t find things I’m looking for.  It’s starting to become more difficult to find places to put new things.

The same thing can happen with a website over time.  As content gets added, it can become cluttered.  Graphics and media don’t always get put into the right folders and can become difficult to find later on.  Old files that you know you’ll never use again are sitting around gathering electrons.

It’s time for a little spring website cleaning.

At least once or twice a year it’s a good idea to go over your site and clean things up.  I’m not talking about an “extreme makeover,” just a little organizing and tidying up.  Here are some spring cleaning tips for your website.

  1. Read over your entire website.  If you’re like me, there are some pages on your site you haven’t looked at since you published them.
  2. Remove pages that are no longer relevant.  Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many sites have a page stuck in the back of a little used menu for some event that took place last summer.
  3. Run a link check tool on your site and remove dead links.  After removing pages that are no longer relevant, it’s easy to forget all the places where you linked to those pages.
  4. Make sure information is up to date.  You should be updating news and calendar pages on at least a weekly basis, but most organizations don’t check pages that rarely change.  Does your staff page still show people who left last year?  Do you list ministries or business services that have been discontinued?
  5. Update old photos.  Does the picture of your pastor show him in a leisure suit?  Time to get a new one.
  6. Reorganize menus.  Sometimes as we add more and more content to a website menus begin to get cluttered.  If you have more than 10 items in a menu, it’s probably time to make use of hierarchical sub-menus.  If a sub-menu has more than 10 items in it, you may need to organize it into multiple sub-menus.
  7. Develop an archiving plan.  If you post newsletters, weekly sermons, or some other content where there is a continuous supply of new pages, figure out how you’re going to archive it as it accumulates.  Some CMS’s and blogs have archiving systems built in.  If yours doesn’t, you may want to organize into folders by year or year and month.  With an archiving plan things won’t get so cluttered in the future.
  8. Update your copyright notice.  Nothing gives the (false?) impression that a site is not being maintained like a (c) 2004 notice at the bottom.  If you have a copyright notice at the bottom, make sure it has this year in it.
  9. Remove unpublished pages from the server.  Sometimes when we’re done with a web page we simply remove it from the menu rather than deleting the page entirely.  That’s OK if you plan to use it again, but if you don’t go ahead and remove it from the server.    You may want to keep a copy of the page archived on your computer, but there’s no sense in keeping it on the server.
  10. Removed unpublished media.  Other times we may delete a page but forget to delete the graphics and media that were on the page.  All of the sudden you’re out of disk space because you have 3 videos and 10 audio files in your account that you’re not even using.
  11. Get a second pair of eyes.  As the administrator of your site, its easy to overlook things.  Ask one or two other people if they would review your site for the items above.

When was the last time you gave your website a good spring cleaning?  Got any other spring cleaning tips you’d like to share?

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Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

2 Responses to “11 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Website”

  1. Good idea, only I have been waiting two weeks for them to answer me back as to where you go to edit your wed site.

  2. Hi Morey,

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been waiting for two weeks. We have no message from you in our help desk. Our typical response time during business hours is a couple of hours, and we respond to email and help desk tickets in the evenings and weekends as well.

    You can edit your website by clicking the “Administrator” link at the bottom of your website.

    If you have any other questions, please contact us through our help desk at:
    http://www.ourchurch.com/support/

    - Paul