Problem of Maintaining Websites
The Problem of Maintaining Websites
When I was a young child I used to hear my parents tell me that
my eyes were bigger than my stomach. When I was hungry it was easy
for me to put a lot on my plate, but as I began to eat I would find
that I really didn’t want as much as I thought I did. Today
we see a lot of webmasters that have eyes that are bigger than their
The problem that we all face is that when we start a new project
we are excited about it and have all kinds of bright ideas about
what we can put into our websites. For the first several days or
even weeks we have a tendency to spend all of our time thinking
about what we can do to make our website great.
We tend to forget that in time we will find other things that will
take up our time and all kinds of things that add to the maintenance
requirements are added to the website. When the joy of developing
the site wears off we are left with the chore of either updating
things that tend to become obsolete or with a website that has the
appearance of one that has been created then abandoned.
Proper planning is the key to preventing these problems. As a webmaster
one should distance one’s self from the maintenance aspects
of the website. A website can be developed in a relatively short
period of time while the maintenance will last for the life of the
Rather than assuming that one will be able to update the website
as the information goes out of date a webmaster should consider
what would happen if the website is left untouched for several weeks
If the website is being developed using static pages there should
be no information that goes out of date. Never mention things that
are going to happen. Never refer to things has having happened last
month, or last year.
It is better to say something like, “In November 2005 my
dog died” rather than “last November my dog died.”
An exception can be made if the article is dated, but it should
still be avoided because readers seldom pay attention to dates that
are not in the body of an article.
Using dynamic pages allows some freedom, but it must be used properly.
Most of the problem with maintaining a website is in deleting the
old information rather than creating the new. When something happens
or is going to happen we want to tell people about it, but after
it is over we really don’t want to think about it.
The last thing a webmaster wants to do is to go through each file
and verify that it appears to be fresh rather than something that
someone forgot to delete. Dynamic pages allow the webmaster to do
lots of nice things, but one of the best things they do is provide
the capability of removing obsolete information without the need
of the webmaster going through each of the pages on the site.
Another thing that causes websites to be a chore to maintain is
too much stuff. Webmasters have a tendency to add things to a site
just because it can be done. A well designed site will only have
those things that are needed to get the message across. A purpose
should be defined for the website and nothing should be included
that does not meet that purpose.
The websites that are the easiest to maintain are the ones that
are the most fun to maintain. When the webmaster can focus on the
purpose of the website rather than on removing old information the
website will be better maintained and more fun.
About the Author
Timothy Fish is a software
engineer living in Fort Worth, Texas. He is the webmaster for http://www.fortworthbaptistchurch.org.
He also maintains a website on church web site design, http://www.timothyfish.net.