Why Do Websites Break? 4 Common Culprits
You’ve just launched a shiny new responsive website: it’s slick, it’s sexy (hyperbole, I know, but sometimes it’s apropos) and then something breaks. “Why? Why?!” you ask while frustrated that you just invested a substantial amount of money into a now defunct website. It just doesn’t make sense…right?
When reasoning about issues with your website, consider the analogy of a new car. Even with that “new car” price tag, your new vehicle will soon require regular maintenance and care to continue running in top fashion. And when something unexpected eventually occurs (like a stall or odd noise), the cause could be anything from a needed oil change or loose connection. In order to get your car up and running again, you’ll need to take steps to correct the issue, which usually requires reinvestment and patience. The same can be said with your website.
When it’s time to maintain your website (or diagnose a broken website), there are some key aspects to consider. Check out the list below of the top culprits of broken websites. And if you need more detail on why your website is experiencing issues, it’s best to have someone with the know-how and experience to diagnose the issue at hand and provide a solution – just like your trusty auto mechanic.
4 Common Culprits of Broken Websites
- Browser Updates & Compatibility: From Chrome to Internet Explorer and beyond, internet browsers frequently push new updates to provide users with improved experiences. These updates reduce vulnerabilities to viruses, hackers, etc. and help reduce the likihood of site crashes. With that in mind, most new websites are developed to support the most current browsers. If you don’t update your browser regularly, you’re probably not viewing websites as they were intended to be seen (not to mention, you probably experience more crashes that most users).
- Software Updates: Websites are hosted by computers, which run on… you guessed it… software! Just as your personal computer requires updates to its operating system and programs, the same is true for the software hosting your website. These updates may need to be performed directly to your website’s content management system or to its software environment, which includes its operating system, database, etc. In order to maintain your site’s security and performance, updates are essential. Keep in mind, however, that updates always have the potential to cause compatibility issues so it’s important to work closely with your “mechanic” when installing them.
- User Error: Websites that utilize a content management system (CMS) are a convenient way for admins without programming knowledge to easily update a website. With that benefit, there is also potential for untrained or hurried users to break items within a site. To limit user errors from occurring, I recommend limiting website admins to one or two people. Admins should receive proper CMS training from your website creator before stepping into this important role. Lastly, it’s important to request documentation from your website creator to reference when you have questions about updating your site; then remember to use it!
- Third Party Updates: Similar to browser updates, third party applications like plugins typically push regular updates, which improve security features and provide fixes to aging programming code. As mentioned above, it’s possible when you update your WordPress website, that a plugin used by your site may be built for an older version of WordPress and will no longer be compatible. In this case, you would need to either update the plugin or replace it if an update is not available.