Best Practices for Maintaining Your Website

Contact Info:

  • Keep the contacts page updated:
    • This page usually changes more than any other page on your website.  Outdated info on this page makes your site look abandoned.
    • It is often the highest-traffic page on your site after the homepage.
    • Put updating this page at the top of your priority list.


  • Don’t create more content than you can maintain.  The site will start to look outdated and possibly abandoned.
  • Don’t use blog posts on the homepage unless you have a team of writers.  Blog posts show publish dates.
  • If you are going to blog, set visitor expectations – mention how often you plan to publish blog posts.
  • Comments = high maintenance.  Don’t turn on comments.
  • Are you the owner of the information, or are you merely repeating someone else’s info?  Consider linking to the info on the owner’s website, but read the caveats below to using links.
  • Try as much as possible to use “evergreen” content that does not need frequent updating.
  • If a file only needs to be available for a specific time frame, consider another way of providing access, e.g. emailing the file, or storing the file on Box and emailing the link to it.
  • If content needs to be restricted, contact us for advice –


  • Links have a high maintenance cost, particularly if you link to someone else’s site.
  • Big agencies, like DNR, periodically redesign their websites.  This causes tons of broken links on any site that links to their site.
  • We can turn on a service that checks for broken links and emails you the results.  It marks broken links as strikethrough text.

Social Media Plugins:

  • Plugins that try to pull in the latest posts from social media accounts break over time, usually without warning.  Instead of relying on these plugins, add icons to link to your social media accounts.  You can do this in Appearance..Customize, in the Social section.  You can also add social media icons via the ACE using the Social block in a full-width row.


  • Don’t overload the main menu.  Too many top-level entries will make the menu disappear because you’ve exceeded the width.
  • Take time and plan the menu.  Sketch it out on paper, and run it by your coworkers. People organize and group things differently, even in the same department.
  • Be wary of changing menus on an existing site.  People get used to items being in a certain location.
  • Know your site audiences.  Ask them for input on the menu redesign before you make it live.
  • Don’t build an all links page and then repeat the links in a sidebar menu.
  • Turn on breadcrumb trails to make navigation easier for site visitors.


  • Consider the order of your lists.  If a list is not in alpha order, people will assume you ordered the list by priority.  This includes menus.
  • Beware of building complex bulleted or numbered lists. Sometimes they just break.  If this happens to you, email for help.


  • Upload photos sparingly.
  • People usually don’t stay on the homepage very long.  They won’t be there long enough to cycle through a lot of photos in sliders.
  • Make sure you have rights to the photo and have obtained any necessary releases. provides rights-free images.
  • Give photos meaningful names before you upload them.
  • Don’t upload multiple, slightly different copies of the same photo.
  • Once you get over 100 files in the Media Library you will have problems finding things.
  • Watch out for trees and poles growing out of people’s heads due to where they are standing.
  • Ask for help in choosing photos for the homepage header slides.  Not all photos work well, and you can wind up decapitating or partially decapitating people in photos.

Page Layout:

  • Don’t use the SiteOrigin widgets to build a page – we’re phasing them out.
  • Every page does not have to be built with the Advanced Content Editor (ACE).  Doing so will make it harder to maintain.  Save the ACE for times when you need one of the features it offers (e.g. a directory), or when you need a multi-column layout.
  • Don’t try to align photos and text in the same row inside the content area in the regular WordPress editor.

User Accounts:

  • Grant access to your site sparingly, particularly administrator access.
  • Set a calendar reminder to review your list of site users at least once a year, and purge accounts for people who have left.  This is particularly true if students maintain your content.