A history of website management covering traditional approaches to design, development, hosting, domain, and email services, as well as project management. Essential reading for the proactive small business owner or sole proprietor who wishes to sleep sound at night knowing their website, domains, email, and other web services are well managed.
What is Website Management?
Website Management is a collection of processes and disciplines concerning the on-going provision, operation, and organisation of content to be displayed and used advantageously for marketing goals. Reporting is also an important part of these systems. In small businesses, this is typically carried out by an administrative staff member but in medium to large organisations you can get a dedicated individual to manage your website, they are generally located in the IT department but should also regularly be interacting with your marketing department or key persons. With an estimated 30.7 million small businesses in the USA, it is important that we understand how to properly manage our websites (https://www.thezebra.com/resources/research/small-business-statistics/).
History of Website Management?
Traditionally, website management has been seen as solely the responsibility of staff members in the IT department. This makes sense, as the regular duties usually concerned ensuring that the IT services keeping the website online (domains and the web server itself), are still online and operational. Frustratingly, email services were also often lumped into these responsibilities. This helps explain why the management of this asset was often assigned to IT. Only in more modern times are we seeing an enlightenment among business owners towards fully managed website hosting services, inclusive within website builders which also manage these IT services (complete website management systems). This has freed up the responsibilities of the role of the staff member to now focus on furthering the businesses online marketing objectives. This is needed as even in a growing business, website manager salaries in USA can be expensive.
How do you Manage a Website?
In the past, managing a website was concerned with the provisioning and on-going maintenance and management of domains, website content and email hosting. Now, website management is more concerned with creating content and distributing it on various platforms to increase local exposure whilst also generating reputation for your website through other websites linking and directing others towards your quality content, as well as social media influencers. In modern times, there is now software to quantify the website as a marketing asset and to engineer content to attract website leads that will hopefully convert into increased revenue for your small business.
Traditional Website Management Service providers typically come from an IT background and will provide website server hosting, email hosting services, as well as domain management and sometimes content management. The advantage that these services traditionally provided was that it allowed small businesses to outsource the management and maintenance of the website. The downside of this was further distancing the business operation from the reality of the IT infrastructure, and, that you had staff who often weren’t proficient in your language, loading marketing content on to your website, which often had less than desirable results.
Traditional Website Project Management
How to Project Manage a Website Redesign?
Small business owners either take it upon themselves or designate a staff member (not a standalone website manager), to handle the entire project of revamping or rebuilding their website. This is a lot to handle as a very large proportion of website redesign projects will involve changing the website design and development vendor, as well as the website hosting provider (to match the new vendors website language technology). Depending on your existing IT setup and support function (if existent), it may involve changing domain and email hosting services too.
From the above, you can tell that there are many components to a website redesign project and the person delegated this responsibility will need to be able to wear many hats and speak the marketing lingo and IT jargon to some extent.
The first aspect of a website redesign is to understand why the existing website is not sufficient. There may be obvious factors such as dated technology, old content or general mismanagement which has resulted in substantial performance and neglect. What is really important, is to ask some of the following questions which can greatly influence the website purpose, and therefore the new design that will be implemented:
- What information is not on the website that needs to be?
- What is the value proposition of the website?
- Who is the target customer of the website?
- What are the most common questions that customers will ask when buying your services?
- Who has existing photos of works completed / relevant photos of the website?
- Will the staff page feature all staff individually or just key management or public-facing staff?
These questions will help lead you to the answer of what content must be included in the initial website design and what can be added later (potentially even as website articles).
Setting Expectations in Website Redesign Project Management
It is essential that you ensure all stakeholders in a small business website redesign project are informed and agree upon any major website revision, as well as being given the opportunity to comment and give input on that revision. Additionally, at an early stage, prior to any visual designs being made, a website draft content structure should be agreed upon in principle to reduce the chance of website scope creep. The forementioned questions should help ensure that the website content structure encapsulates all the key information requirements in the recommended questions above. Fortunately, in a small business, the “stakeholders” will generally just be the business owners, the staff member responsible for the website redesign project, and likely a key marketing staff and potentially IT staff member (if existent).
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
Content Management Systems, such as Wordpress, are software systems created by website developers to help organise and maintain the content that is displayed on a website. CMS systems typically come as self-hosted pieces of software or sometimes as a cloud based platform.
The foundational idea behind a Content Management System is that it is meant to make things easier for those that are tasked with website management. And, sometimes it manages to achieve this. However, unfortunately, in almost all instances the person has had either some prior background in IT or has undertaken a large effort, such as that detailed under ‘How To Manage a Website Project’.
Website Management in 7 Steps
The 7 core foundational steps of website management and how software tools have automated these to make the lives of website manager’s and small business owners easier.
Step 1: Provision website design services
You will need to search, either locally or internationally, for a business to design your websites.
Step 2: Provision website hosting services
Once you know the website development language and technologies that your website will require, then you can find an appropriate website hosting service provider.
Step 3: Provision domain (purchase) & ensure DNS services are available
Once you’ve gotten approval for the .com (or other domain TLD) name that your small business wishes to use for your website and email addresses, then use a domain registration service to secure your desired domain name. Prior to purchasing your domain, ensure that there is access to DNS record changing services, or that DNS record changes can be made on request to their customer support or IT engineering team.
Warning – some cheaper domain hosting providers may require you to purchase the ability to set DNS records which can impede the process of launching your website. Buyer beware.
Step 4: Provision email hosting services
Ironically this step is often done manually, via email communications, to either your existing IT support team, staff member, or through to your domain management or website hosting service provider. As you can see there are many potential avenues for vendors to provide the small business email hosting services, and it is important to consider the vendor that is most suitable for your business operational needs.
Step 5: Provision SEO services
Unfortunately, this often painful, step involves navigating through a marketplace of providers, typically independent of the website design service provider, and wade through a large amount of jargon to find someone who can give you straight-forward advice on SEO.
Step 6: Periodically ensure the technologies are up to date and renewed (if relevant)
In addition to having to understand and potential deploy the website hosting technology on an IT server (never a optimal outcome), you will have to periodically check on the general function of the website as well as ensuring the website is taken offline periodically, outside of business hours, in-order to update any software and to refresh the systems memory through a server restart (if required or if process dictates it. No part of this process is optimal and although this has been the gold standard for some years we are glad to be able to offer a comprehensive website management software platform to eliminate this continuous chore. You will never need to check plugin version numbers or software hash values again!
Step 7: Periodically upload relevant content to attract customers
As there are many things to manage you may wish to consider using a complete website management system such as Dazzly which is a self-managed platform with integrations and functions to manage of the above considerations (website design, hosting, domains, DNS, email hosting, SEO, renewals such as SSL certificates and it makes it extremely easy to update the website with the latest content (in an advantageous way). It is also extremely easy-to-use and backed by competent, friendly support staff who genuinely have your back. We understand how difficult this can be for small businesses.
Don’t be stuck in the old world of website management. We hope the above has convinced you to try the latest in comprehensive software to manage your website professionally. We hope you sign-up for a free trial of Dazzly to create and manage your website today.
Website Management Tools
What is a Complete Website Management System?
A complete website management system handles all of the old functionality whilst periodically offering new and updated cutting edge functionality to ensure you have options to keep ahead of the competition. It also offers new an exciting functionality, in an efficient manner, such as analysing local website competitors to determine what is an easy keyword to target to get new traffic within a few months. This is no easy task! Dazzly engineers strive to make new things (including all digital) easy. You can expect this sort of functionality and much more in updates in late 2022 and beyond!
Such systems offer fully managed domain, website, DNS, and email hosting, but through a web or mobile-based, extremely easy to use, user interface. DNS Records are not directly editable, as this is not a daily management task, but can be performed upon request. Email account creation will soon be automated but we have efficient process in-place to get your custom email hosting needs up and running promptly. With our website hosting, the website optimisation, SEO, as well as the networking and other infrastructure technologies are all parts of the magic that is the dazzly website management software system.
You needn’t concern yourself with learning IT or intimidating website builder interfaces, now everything related to your website can be managed from one simple system, and if you prefer to take care of part of it yourself, such as using an external domain or external email hosting provider, that is no problem at all. Our dazzling software can take care of as many or as few of your routine maintenance tasks that you require.
In conclusion, Dazzly is a forward-thinking website management software system that automates many of the troublesome processes involved in creating, launching, managing, and maintaining a website. Dazzly goes beyond standard website builder functionality and also incorporates business process, marketing thought, and most importantly, easy-to-use interfaces, to make it feel like the mobile website builder platform that was made just for your small business. That is because it was.
We look forward to hearing about your success in improving your capabilities and we invite you to take advantage of our free trial and to test the latest technology helping small businesses throughout New Zealand and the world! If you have enjoyed reading this article we would appreciate any feedback you have as we have several ideas to expand upon in updates that may come in the future.