Important Technical Aspects for Websites

The “unfair” technical advantage

Picture yourself entering a motor racing event with your brand-new, eye-catching stock-standard car, only to discover, after finishing dead last, that the majority of your competitors have legally and compliantly customised, fine-tuned, and optimised their engines. To add insult to injury, as you make your way back to your vehicle after the awards ceremony, you find it has been broken into!

Your website follows a similar pattern. After acquiring it, there are important technical aspects for websites that must be implemented, particularly if your goal is to outpace your competitors in reaching their customers and safeguarding it from potential hacking.

Important Technical Aspects for Websites - picture comparing security aspects to a motor race

What's missing from the standard tech toolbox?

Many free, readily available website technologies like WordPress, Wix and others have evolved significantly in recent years, particularly towards enhancing user-friendliness and offering better design choices.

These days, anyone with a bit of time and a willingness to learn can set up a website. However, as we are well aware, when you’re running a business, there simply isn’t enough time in a day.

What may not be widely recognised is that constructing and designing your online office or store necessitates the integration of various “aftermarket” elements. These include ensuring security, optimising your server and pages, adhering to best practices, and meeting the requirements of search engines. These crucial components are not bundled with these technological platforms.

Moreover, hosting companies typically do not take on the responsibility of optimising websites or servers themselves; instead, it falls upon the site owner to guarantee that the site remains robust, secure, and performs at its optimal level.

Ignorance can be costly

More than sixty percent of our revenue is generated through website audits and rebuilds. We systematically assess and document important technical aspects for websites, revealing to potential clients the factors that are hindering their websites from attaining top positions in search engine rankings.

It can be a challenging task, informing small business owners that they must allocate additional funds to rectify a multitude of issues that were neglected at the time of purchase.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the responsibility does not lie with them. It’s also not the fault of the web designer, the boss’s nephew, the company secretary, or the marketing executive who aimed to stretch the marketing budget by attempting to construct it themselves.

For most individuals outside the web development industry, aftermarket considerations aren’t a primary concern, nor are they well-known. Nevertheless, these factors invariably come to light once the website fails to draw traffic, falls far from the first page in Google Search, or experiences rapid deterioration.

Minimal technical requirements

Another challenge customers often face is determining the extent of work required to prepare the site for launch, in alignment with their budget, ensuring at least a baseline level of security and protection. However, it’s akin to asking how long a piece of string is – an inherently variable question.

Typically, clients inquire, “What is the cost of building a basic (inexpensive) website?” Unfortunately, inexpensive strings are usually quite short.

The more pertinent question to pose is, “What will be the cost of rebuilding this website?” Given that over sixty percent of websites may not be compliant (and that figure might be even higher), there’s a real risk of wasting time and money.

If you do choose to invest in a basic, out-of-the-box, cost-effective solution, it’s advisable to allocate additional funds for security. This investment may significantly prolong the functionality and safety of your site and address some of the important technical aspects for websites.

Puzzled? What are security headers?

As noted by Search Engine Journal, “While some may argue that website security isn’t directly related to SEO, it becomes an SEO concern when a site falls victim to hacking, causing search traffic to plummet.”

Deep Security Trend Micro provides further insight, stating, “Security headers are directives utilised by web applications to configure browser security defenses. These directives make it more challenging for browsers to exploit client-side vulnerabilities like Cross-Site Scripting or Clickjacking. Headers can also be employed to set browser preferences to allow only valid communication, enforce the use of valid certificates, or specify the use of a particular server certificate.”

Customising header configuration

Security headers (SHs) offer a valuable opportunity to tailor a website’s security to its unique needs, considering factors such as functionality, content, and other specific requirements.

There’s a common saying, “If criminals are determined to break in, they’ll find a way,” but it certainly helps to have multiple layers of protection like a guard dog, electric fencing, burglar bars, high walls, and armed response. In this analogy, SHs represent a vital component of a website’s defense system. It is advisable to set up SHs manually rather than relying on another plugin, which is strongly discouraged. Properly configured SHs can also contribute to improved site loading speeds.

Evaluating your security headers

We’ve conducted tests on several well-known local websites, even those belonging to large companies, and it’s alarming to discover that their security directives are either minimal or entirely absent.

It’s a good practice to regularly assess the effectiveness of your security headers. Click here to begin the testing process, and while you’re at it, consider evaluating the security headers of your favorite news outlets, products, brands, or even your friends’ websites. If you come across a poor score, perhaps you could offer them assistance by bringing the issue to their attention. 🙂

Important Technical Aspects for Websites - screenshot of a security headers check site
Scan your security headers at Security

Your security framework and strategy

Maintaining the security of your website demands careful attention to various technical elements, including:

  • Regular core software updates
  • Plugin updates
  • Database optimisation
  • Off-server backups performed manually
  • Server optimisation
  • Adjustments to code and website files
  • Implementation of an on-site firewall
  • Reporting and alert systems
  • Consideration of a website maintenance subscription

Utilising automatic updates

WordPress introduced plugin and theme auto-updates with its 5.5 core update in August 2020. While this was a welcomed feature for some, it proved to be catastrophic for others, particularly those whose security and technology foundations were not robust.

The effectiveness of this function hinges on two critical factors: firstly, the use of proven and reliable plugins and themes from reputable developers, and secondly, the employment of stable hosting infrastructure capable of managing surges in server resources when numerous sites on the same server undergo simultaneous updates.

Whether it’s an automatic or manual update, it’s advisable to always review the changelogs for themes, plugins, and the core, and consult developer forums to identify any potential incompatibility or other issues. Furthermore, ensure that your website is regularly and manually backed up to maintain data security.

(A set of screenshots about important technical aspects for websites illustrating attack frequency on a website, where to assess your site’s well-being, and how to set up automatic updates.):

Ready to secure your site?

Let’s delve into the important technical aspects for websites that may be constraining your online presence. Consider obtaining a website security, SEO, or online marketing audit for your business.