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12Aug2017

Joomla maintenance strategy

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739 hits Updated: 16 January 2018

What things do you have to do to maintain a Joomla website?

The four skills for highly-effective websites

What are the things … to be done to maintain Joomla website?forum user, Joomla Forum, 10-Aug-2017

The question of “website maintenance” (and Joomla website maintenance, in par­ti­cular) is a fairly simple one and, I suppose, anyone could scribble a few notes on a scrap of paper or point to articles posted online that itemise the first things coming to mind: security, backups, regular updates, etc.—the “usual” household chores.  Everyone has their own routine and there’s a general consensus about what matters should receive the highest priority.  However, when you really think about the subject seriously, most of us don’t plan for future-proofing our sites so that they can be maintained with relatively little effort.  Perhaps some projects commence that way but they evolve into a tangled web of complexity with internal dependencies that we wish, in hindsight, we hadn’t done.  The bottom-line is that no-one likes house­work; most of us don’t even enjoy any routine work.

In this article I will present the “four skills” strategy for highly-effective websites.  So, before you sharpen your pencils and take notes—or frame a printed copy of the article and place it on your desk—we will look at the big picture:  what do you re­quire—what skills do you require—to prepare a website effectively in order to maintain it efficiently?

The four skills for highly-effective websites

Generating a profitable business takes time:  time to conceive a “vision” (or enabling objective, or mission statement, if you prefer) of what your site will be about; time to build your website to translate that vision into a reality; time to build the content; and, most importantly, time to generate the goodwill—the reputation—that will have visitors beating a path to your door.  It is unfortunate that some people think that success simply relies on choosing a good site template (like finding a genie in a bottle) and then they can take a magic carpet ride.  If that were the only ingredient that people needed—a “good template”—then why they would bother reading articles like this one?

Every website is a business in some form or another and how you manage your website determines the success or otherwise of your business.  If you spend time cultivating your website, investing in developing new content, new software and general maintenance, your customers—the people who visit your site—will notice the difference and will return again.  If you treat your site like a “field of dreams”—if you expect your business to flourish simply because you created a website (and that was the total extent of your time and energy)—then you’re in for a wake-up call.

In the same vein, just as you need to have a plan to build a successful business, you need to have a plan for building and maintaining a website that will support the business.  When I’m been asked what are the key requirements to building a successful website, my answer is that people need to have (or be able to harness other people’s expertise) in four key areas:

7Technical

To host a website (FTP, CSS, site security) and, specifically to host a Joomla website, you need to have an understanding about components, modules, plugins, templates, languages, libraries, etc.   If you cannot write your own extensions for Joomla then you need to know where to find and how to use extensions that [may] have been written for your purposes. You also need to possess a basic understanding of the operation of Joomla's administration facilities:  installing, updating, enabling/­pub­lishing/­dis­abling/­un­pub­lishing/­de­leting those parts of Joomla that you will be using.  Technical skills are often the ones that most people give priority to in this forum but, in my opinion, they are probably not as important as the other ones listed below.

You do not necessarily require an understanding of server-side scripting, database design/development or hosting software (specifically) but it does help to have a basic comprehension of the “building blocks” used in website constuction: HTML, choosing a reliable webhosting provider, getting a domain name, establishing reliable security (including site backup/restoration) … these kinds of things.  What is equally important is to regularly exercise your technical skill:  install the updates, perform the backups, test your disaster recovery plan and do these things at least once every month.

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilisation.Gerald Weinberg, Weinberg’s Second Law, 2010

Design

When we speak of website design we’re not limiting ourselves to graphical design (i.e. the visual layout of the content) but we need to include accessibility [for sight-impaired users as well] as well as better user interfaces.  You need pay attention to the different ways that people will interact with your site:  desktop users, tablet users and mobile users.  Design is important to how you attract visitors to your site, how you capture their attention, how you retain their interest and ensure they come back again to visit your site.

Naturally, you will chose a design showcases your business but careful not to dazzle your visitors with too much brilliance all at once:  the best designs are the simplest ones.  When you organise the content on your site, strive to achieve a balance between what will immediately attract visitors to your site—and keep them there.  Don’t have a home page that is too overwhelming.  Keep it simple.

The opulence of the front office décor varies inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm.Murphy’s Laws on Technology

,Journalism

Your website needs to tell its story with words (and pictures, too). A good journalist is someone who can tell a story so that other people immediately understand it.  Words matter.  A site that has poorly-constructed sentences, bad grammar, spelling mistakes, the incorrect use of punctuation, etc., indicates a lazy mind and someone who has little respect for the visitors to the site.  If you have a story to tell then make sure you put the effort into telling the story well.

Know how to write!  If you don’t know how to write then employ someone who does.  If you can’t afford a good publicist then ask someone else to look at your work and give you their feedback.  As you look around the internet, you will quickly understand why people do not waste their time on websites that are overly busy and full of poorly-constructed sentences, grammatical and typographical errors or spelling mistakes.

Work smarder and not harder and be careful of yor speling.Murphy’s Laws on Technology

uMarketing

Your website won’t be successful if you don't actively market it.  There are billions of sites on the internet. What makes your website better than the others?  Why would people want to visit your site?  That’s where you have to invest time in promoting your site.  Seek out other partners; seek out new markets and monitor how well you’re achieving a bigger market-share. SEO—if you don’t know what it is, learn about it.  Successful marketing is the make-or-break of your site, websites require continual marketing effort, refinement and refocusing.

If you have the vision, if you have the strategy (Joomla is a good strategy, by the way), if you have the know-how, the ability to write clearly, and the marketing drive, the last thing you need to be worried about is what template you chose to showcase your wares.

If you think you understand science (or computers or women), you’re clearly not an expert.Murphy’s Laws on Technology

In summary, the maintenance list for operating a Joomla website involves forward planning and the “four skills” strategy for highly-effective websites:  technology, design, journalism and marketing.

About the author:

is a Joomla professional and former member of the Kunena community for more than 8 years—a substantial contributor to the original Kunena documentation project with over twenty thousand messages posted at the Kunena forum. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. View his profile here.



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