CMS maintenance is far more important than most marketers realize until it’s too late. But, what is it exactly, and why should it be included in your regular website maintenance?

CMS maintenance can be described as a collection of simple activities that someone may do to keep a website in tip-top shape and running smoothly. It may seem obvious, which is why these seemingly mundane tasks may be forgotten or brushed to the side in the hustle and bustle of routine maintenance. 

When you create a website (or have someone craft a site for you), you’re investing your time, money and energy in an asset that can serve your target audience and boost your brand awareness and presence. To sustain that investment, it’s vital that you do everything in your power to keep your online portal up to date. 

Your site is a worldwide door into your business, and when things go wrong it can have an everlasting (and often detrimental) effect. Oftentimes the idea of scheduled maintenance on your website may not be something you even think about. You may believe that since it’s working right now, it will be working tomorrow too — nothing could go wrong, right? 

Incorrect! Even if you produce a beautiful site with zero bugs or broken parts, it will begin to age and potentially act up over time. 

Picture this:

You’ve just purchased a shiny, new car off the lot. Would you spend a ton of money on that vehicle and then refuse to get an oil change or switch out your tires when they get worn down? Absolutely not. Because you’ve bought the car for a reason and you want it to last. It’s the same for your website. 

With the knowledge that CMS maintenance is important to your website’s health, you can now create a CMS maintenance schedule to easily keep track of when your check-in needs to happen every month.

What To Include in Your CMS Maintenance Schedule

Having a website maintenance plan with scheduled care can assist you with CMS maintenance. Like a list of to-dos, building a schedule for necessary tasks can keep you in line and on target with monthly preventative maintenance on any and all websites you’re in charge of. 

Need to know what to include in your maintenance service schedule? You’ve come to the right place. Here are a few important items to get your list started:

  • Ensure your software is up to date: You don’t want your site speed to start to lag. Making regular updates to your system can keep things running at a decent pace.
  • Keep your site backed up: Avoid the devastation of losing vital information or site progress by making sure the latest version of your website is backed up on a reliable file. Scheduling regular, automatic backups can be a great way to prevent disaster.
  • Check for compatibility: As newer systems come out, your site may not work well with plugins, templates or third-party API. Check your website on multiple platforms to track any compatibility issues.
  • Click your links: You do not want your website visitors to click on one of your hyperlinks and run into a 404 error page. Keep this from happening by crawling through your landing pages and exploring your outgoing links. 

Keeping up with your list of preventative tasks can keep you from a headache later on. But do you need more grounds to create and stick with a CMS maintenance schedule? Here are 5reasons why the set-it-and-forget-it mindset is dangerous, and what you can do to keep a maintenance schedule top of mind.

5 reasons to keep a CMS maintenance schedule for your website infographic

1. Security

The No. 1 reason to keep a regular maintenance schedule for your website is, above all, security. There are too many nefarious characters operating out there on the world wide web, and they will stop at nothing to gain access to your site for many different reasons, such as the sheer thrill of it, stealing user information and/or taking down your site.

When working with a CMS like WordPress or Drupal there are some plugins that can aid in keeping these evildoers at bay.

For WordPress, we recommend Wordfence, as the settings can help lock out a user attempting to log in multiple times and even help prevent logins or access from IPs and regions that should not be accessing your site.

For Drupal, we recommend a few assistive modules, including Login Security and and Security Review. While Login Security helps limit login attempts and deny access for certain IPs, Security Review will look at your site for potential vulnerabilities.

A solid CMS maintenance schedule will include reviewing these security logs and ensuring that out-of-the-ordinary traffic is prevented.

2. Outdated Components

Directly related to security is checking for outdated and/or incompatible components.

Outdated components are often the most common cause for a site being hacked. In the case of a CMS like Joomla, WordPress or Umbraco, plugins can be extremely useful, adding new, exciting and sometimes vital functionality to your website.
The downside to using extensions is that they require regular updates both for security patches and for broken functionality.

When a security vulnerability is discovered, responsible extension creators will update their software, patching the security issue and making the update available to users. It is the site owner’s responsibility, however, to ensure this updated software is applied.

The core code for your CMS may also be the recipient of a security or routine update. It is usually crucial to update your core CMS to ensure that you receive these security patches as well as functionality updates. When making these updates, it may also be necessary to update and troubleshoot compatibility with your extension components as well. This is where having a CMS maintenance schedule can aid in setting aside the appropriate resources to ensure this is done smoothly.

3. Updated Copy and Working Links

While the copy may have been great when you launched your site, and all of your internal and external links were in working order, this can become less true over time.

One task to complete during maintenance activity is to look at your content and run a link checker to ensure your content is still relevant and your internal and external links are still working. Where you find internal links that are no longer working, you should ideally check why your page is broken and fix the issue, or remove the link from your content. Where you are linking to an external source, broken links should either be removed completely or an alternative URL found. Then, add new copy and optimize your content to attach working links to.

4. Usability and Feature Relevance

The web is an ever-evolving landscape where new technologies and new features are developed each day.

cms maintenance

In addition to new technologies, trends in design and user interactions are also ever-changing. Keeping up to date on these trends can be vital in maintaining a user base and growing it via search. As features and trends in web design and development become obsolete, keeping these features and/or not updating them for the modern web can cause your site to look outdated and perform slowly.

If a site looks and feels outdated, a user will be more likely to leave a site, having decided that the information they were looking for will also be outdated, or the site does not have enough authority on the topic. A key feature of any CMS maintenance schedule should be evaluating these features and your site’s usability. Determine if small updates should be made or even full website redesigns undertaken to ensure the site’s content is high quality.

5. Speed

Today’s users are increasingly impatient, and research shows slower page response times directly lead to an increase in page abandonment. 47% of users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, while 64% expect a mobile page to load in less than four seconds.

There are many factors that can have an effect on your page speed, including outdated components, cutting-edge features, hosting and DNS monitoring.

As part of a CMS maintenance schedule, you should be running a page speed test on multiple pages of your site to determine if any optimization can and should be done, aiming to improve existing performance. Over time it is not uncommon for page speed to slowly slip until there is a severe and noticeable lag for your end users.

While it can seem costly to conduct routine maintenance on your website for a few hours each week or month, it can be far more costly to wait until there are obvious and noticeable issues. Users will immediately notice increased loading time, broken features or, even worse, a site being down completely. These issues can result in loss of site visitors as well as loss of revenue.

Don’t get caught with your website down. Set up a regular CMS maintenance schedule to maintain the health and welfare of your website as you would yourself.

Editor’s Note: Updated January 2023.

Deryk King is Brafton's Director of Technical Services. When he's not feeding his "healthy" coding obsession by skillfully re-developing client websites left and right, he can be found re-watching his favorite Star Wars flick or hunting down classic video games in Boston.