Your e-commerce site is your always-open store front. It makes money while you sleep! But to make sure it is always available for your customers, and that it can always generate income for you, you need to take steps to make sure your site is always up and always functioning properly. If you have an e-commerce site, here are some best practices for site maintenance to make sure your customers can give you money whenever they want.
Security is really important on an e-commerce site. Your customers are going to share their mailing addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers (depending on what payment gateways you use) on your site, so it is vitally important that you protect that information. Any e-commerce site should use a security plugin. When you’re looking for a security plugin, make sure you find one that will block people who enter too many incorrect passwords, block traffic from known hackers, and run regular security scans to check your site for suspicious activity.
Backups are like insurance: you hope you never need them, but if you do, you can’t recover from a disaster without them. Backups can help you if your site gets hacked, if your web server crashes, or if you do something to your site that you didn’t mean to do. For an e-commerce site, it is particularly important to do backups at least daily, so that if a disaster does happen, you don’t lose a lot of order information. It’s also important to store your backups somewhere other than on your web server: if your web host crashes, you want to make sure you have backups elsewhere that you can restore from!
The most common reason that websites get hacked is out-of-date plugins. In other words, the easiest way to protect your site from hackers is to keep all of your plugins up-to-date. Yes, updating plugins can be scary, but not nearly as scary as leaving out-of-date plugins with security holes on your website! This is even more vital for e-commerce sites, where you are storing data about your customers. If you’re worried that updating a plugin might break your site, then you can test the plugin updates on a staging copy of your site.
You don’t want your e-commerce site to go down. Ever. Even if your site is down for 5 minutes, that might have been 5 minutes when someone wanted to buy something. So it is vitally important that if you are ever going to do anything that might cause your site to go down, you should test it first. Here is where staging sites or test environments are useful. Any time you need to update a plugin, customize your theme, or try out a new plugin, you should use a sandbox copy of your website where you can experiment without having to worry about breaking your website and losing customers.
E-commerce sites require a little extra TLC to make sure they are always available for your customers. Fortunately, there are tools out there for security, backups, and updates to make sure that your site is always chugging along happily.