When Your Website Breaks (And It Will)
The Sprocket Report
It’s easy to forget how awesome today’s digital landscape is. And it’s also easy to forget that sometimes our digital media won’t always work the way we expect. Here are a few issues that may be an unpleasant surprise in your near future.
The World Wide Web has only been in use since the early 1990s, around the same time as the first team of Power Rangers. Today we take it for granted that we can easily put our marketing message in people’s pockets wherever they are in the world so they can make a purchase right then and there. We expect the latest, coolest technology, but priced attractively and working both flawlessly and indefinitely.
You may as well face it now: That’s not how it really works. Your website WILL break. It WILL need maintenance. And sooner than you think, it WILL need to be replaced. Here are just a few of the issues you can expect:
Hosting Server Disruption
Just last month, thousands of business websites went off-line, losing an estimated $150 million, because of a debugging mistake made by Amazon Web Service that affected their cloud computing platform. While unfortunate, the problem could have been worse. Often servers go down because of catastrophes like a flood or a tornado, which are much harder to recover from.
How to Prepare:
There are different levels of protection available, some wildly expensive. Ask your hosting company about their server bunker, their back-up routine and their redundancy policy. Weigh what you’ll lose if you’re out of commission against the fees for the different levels of protection.
Another issue that is affecting a lot of small businesses is Mailchimp’s recent sunset of the 2.0 Application Program Interface (API). As you can probably guess from the name, “API” refers to how Mailchimp’s code works with other code. Mailchimp no longer supports that version, so it won’t work on any website that has it.
How to Prepare:
Third-party changes can happen without warning, although reputable integrators try to give a heads-up. If you don’t have a web pro on retainer to keep track, try to review your website on a regular basis to look for issues. And put some of your marketing budget aside to hire someone to swap out old APIs for newer versions.
It’s not only third-party programs that “sunset” versions. The platform on which your website resides also goes through versions. Wordpress puts out a new version every four months or so. Some updates just clean up little errors but others can drastically change how everything works together, leading to broken links and “Page Not Found” messages.
How to Prepare:
Your web pro – which might be you, if you built your own site – should get notification when a new version is launched or an older version is no longer supported. Some updates are more important or trickier to make than others. Having a web pro on your team to navigate this journey will save you from headaches you don’t need.
No one can guarantee that your website will work flawlessly forever, so it makes sense to be ready. Do your research before disaster strikes. Put a line item in your budget for costs. Write a draft message to give your customers. And get a web pro on your team for advice and repair. If you don’t have a web pro right now, give us a call. We’d be happy to be on your team.