Maintaining your Drupal or Joomla website – Best ways and tasks.

One of my clients recently wanted to create a community website,  He is not  a technical person , but a fast learner. He just wanted me to train him on how to maintain the drupal website. He was completely unaware of what really goes into maintenance, the only thing he would think about is adding / modifying content, which he can do very easily . I was not able to explain him what goes into maintaining a drupal community website, so I came back and first created the list of tasks which goes into maintenance of a drupal website. Sharing this with my readers.

So you have created a drupal website, you went through installation videos, created content, installed a good looking theme, what next?  Thousands of Drupal websites are created every month, with lot of enthusiasm and zeal, but very few (less than 0.1%) actually can make a mark and will sustain in long term. Why do websites shut down or get outdated ? Why does PageRank decrease and hence search engine positions?

 

While there may be many reasons, the primary reason is the inability to keep the website updated on daily basis. Let’s see what are the problems due to not keeping website upto date

 

  1. There will be outdated content on your front page and returning visitors will get bored if they stumble upon your website again. They may not click your website even if it comes in search results.
  2. Search engines like updated content on regular basis. If you update once in while then you will lose importance.
  3. Spammers may post lot of content / comments, which will bring down the importance of your website.
  4. Outdated content not removed, creates a bad impression on quality of website.
  5. Bugs / errors start showing up , if there are some changes at your web host, your website needs to be kept upto date with CMS software upgrades, module upgrades or you will lose authority, traffic and SERPs.
  6. Not improving the user interface of your website . Users get bored after a while , many popular websites change their appearance every once in a while based on user feedback. This is important to keep returning users glued to your website.

 

Overall the answer to all this problem is dedicated team of people looking into website maintenance and content management. Let’s see what tasks which fall in this bracket are.

 

Content

 

  1. Content addition / updating.
  2. Moderating your content / comments (if moderation is enabled)
  3. Update event calendars, breaking news, and photos
  4. Check for outdated content – old news items, blog posts, broken links etc.
  5. For ecommerce - Shopping cart changes - products, pricing, images,

 

Security

  1. Change the password for user /1 periodically
  2. Check admin/settings/filter/list for input settings
  3. Perform drupal security upgrades timely

 

Spam control

  1. Cleaning spam posts, blocking spammers
  2. Goto /admin/user/rules/add to continuously set the rules to deny certain emails and usernames.

Administration

  1. Goto admin/reports/dblog – this will show errors like page not found, cron errors,  warnings etc. See if these errors can be fixed
  2. Goto /admin/reports/status – additional information will appear here, like database issues, server related problems, generic warnings etc.
  3. Above pages needs to be checked after every installation / update to either module or core drupal.
  4. Installing and configuring new  modules, or goto /admin/reports/updates to check if there are any updates existing modules / add-ons.
  5. Email settings can be modified at /admin/reports/updates/settings
  6. Taking backups of the website.
  7. Minor configuration changes like blocks, menus, ad displays etc.

 

Improvements

  1. Getting feedback on usability and planning for UI improvements.
  2. Minor improvements to ad placements, blocks, menus as applicable.
  3. Website performance testing and improvement

 

 

In addition to above tasks you will also need to continuously invest in search engine optimizations activities like

 

  1. Submitting sitemaps to search engines
  2. On-page SEO , ensure proper modules are installed for the same.
  3. Off page SEO like link building, authority building
  4. Keep posting about your content updates in popular forums, blogs etc, to get backlinks and traffic.
  5. Maintaining high quality content which will get bookmarks from social websites like facebook, twitter, etc.

 

Can you do all these tasks by yourself? Well if you have only 1 website and it’s not that active maybe yes.  Better option would be to divide the tasks and appoint a trusted freelancer or full time person to work with you.

 

I know that the above post is for Drupal, but Joomla is very similar and almost all of the 25 tasks above will apply for Joomla as well, agree the links would be different, but still a good list for Joomla webmasters.

Now  you must have figured out that before creating a website, you must first have a plan for maintenance, time commitment required,  skill and expertise required. Ensure you budget for all this and then when you make a website , it will be sustainable in long term and would be successful.

Comments

admin's picture

One of the readers on linked in posted following comment. Posting it here

To maintain an array of Drupal sites:
-Keep them all up to date of course...
-Look into "drush" (pronounced droosh)
-Automate backup & migrate to store files above and up out of the root web directory.
-Build an old-fashioned spreadsheet filled with checkboxes. Across the top, list all the domains in row "1". Down the left in Column "A", list everything you realize you SHOULD be doing to maintain all your sites. Keep that filled full of correct checkboxes.
-Security to reduce downtime. Lock the site down and spend the time to learn how and why. No-one benefits from hacked sites (fixes).
-Make certain you are on the Drupal Security Updates email list. Do the updates within 24 hours if one applies to you.
-Separate user accounts from privileges. Force ALL sites to require administrator moderation to create an account (the botnet to harvest insecure Drupal sites is very effective).
-Avoid MONSTER energy drinks prior to 6:am.
Ian Sears