Congratudolences: You Inherited a Website

Angeli Haris , Customer Success Manager Reading estimate: 3 minutes

Yes! You got what you wanted. You have a new job where you are in charge of the website. And that means you get to make all the decisions about how to run website operations or WebOps.

Well, like it or not, three decades into the World Wide Web, it's rare (and not necessarily desirable) to start from scratch. Whether you're a digital marketer, a developer or an IT director, having authority to lead the future direction of your site comes with the responsibility for past decisions.

Let us make this as easy and painless as possible. Here's a run-down of the common WebOps tasks that will outline processes and resources you’ll need to reduce your overhead and improve your workflows.



Step 0: Why does your site exist at all? 

At Pantheon, we like to say: "Your Website has a Job To Do," and that job almost certainly involves improving KPIs like the number of unique visitors reached. Even if your role may be a layer removed from increasing those metrics, every member of a web team is more effective when they know how their work connects to the big picture. Find out where important metrics are tracked. Google Analytics? Find out which people in your organization depend on the website to deliver which results.

Step 1: Gain credentials to access the website and any integrated systems

If you have not done this already, do it now. Getting the login information from the previous owner of the website is crucial to transferring ownership, including being able to manage admin settings to ensure the appropriate users and permissions are in place.

Once you’re inside, make sure you take a backup of the entire website: its codebase, files and database. Some hosting providers give you the ability to maintain backups, but it doesn’t hurt to run one yourself. Not all providers have been created equal. Some offer bare metal hosting and others come with built-in security, developer tools and great support. 

Step 2: Explore site analytics, scan for outdated plugins, review  workflows

Take a look at the analytics and reporting available to gauge how the website is doing. If you need help interpreting the data, reach out to someone in your team who would know or reach out to a subject-matter expert (SME) within your WebOps provider’s team.

Scan for any outdated versions of themes or plugins to ensure they’re up to date. Run a security check to identify any potential vulnerabilities. If there is one thing you can do for your website’s well-being, it is to keep it as secure as possible. Your managed hosting provider might already have advanced features built in that sit on top of your website such as a WAF or rate limiting to identify and mitigate risks. If not, you’ll be better off implementing similar controls to protect your site.

Understand the history of the previous team or the owner’s workflows.

  • How often did they make and deploy changes?
  • How often did they run, test and apply updates to core plugins and modules, themes, etc.?
  • What other tools and processes did they use as a team?
  • Are there improvements that can be made to the existing workflows to help with automation and scale?


Step 3: Use existing resources to fill in key information 

For example, does your managed hosting provider have a knowledge base, user community forum or training portal where you can learn more about a specific feature or offering? Or, if your provider has a SME to help you with your contract details, its renewal dates, technical support availability, etc.? What recommendations do they have for improving the website’s performance? 

Chances are, there is a wealth of guidance and resources available to you depending on your needs. Figuring your way around WebOps doesn’t have to be daunting. By taking one step at a time, you will be on the right path soon. 

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