Being a Webmaster is like Changing Dirty Diapers!

I have two beautiful children, Matthew who is almost four and Erica who is going to be two in December. I rejoiced when my son was finally potty trained, and if things go like we expect my little girl will be out of diapers sooner than my son. It meant no more dirty gross diapers to clean up from him. It was a glorious day! For those of you who are parents you know what I am talking about. The thing about diapers is you might not like them, but you have to change them. The alternative is to let your child, that you love and care for, sit around in a soaking wet or dirty diaper and that is just not a good idea because sooner or later that diaper is going to break apart and end up making a mess all over the house and then not only do you have a dirty diaper to deal with you have the mess in the house.

Being a webmaster is a lot like changing dirty diapers. There are a lot of things about my work that I love doing, but there is also list of routine items that I just don’t get to as often as I should, but sooner or later you need to deal with them otherwise your website, server or desktop will be a mess.

Upgrading Web Software

You have to do it, but how often do you just put off upgrading to the latest version of WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal saying I’ll do it tomorrow. Before you know it you are two or three patches behind and your whole website and server could be in jeopardy of being hacked or defaced. Then you have to deal with restoring from backups, losing more information, restoring your server and all types of mess.

Backing Up

Face it we are all lazy! When was the last time you actually backed up your website or your personal computer? Cpanel has that handy backup icon for a reason, so you can create and download a backup for safe keeping. Make it a habit to backup your websites. If you have a dedicated server or ssh access you can use tools like rsync to backup automatically. Don’t forget about your desktop either. I use Mozy Online Backup and I have been very pleased with it. This way I know my data is backed up and available if and when I have a hard drive/system crash.

Website links get out of date. It is one of the easiest things to check, but then you might end up spending half a day fixing broken links. Your visitors will appreciate having links that work so they go where they expect the links to take them. Take the time to check your links occasionally so the resources you point to are actually there.

Check for HTML/CSS/Javascript Errors

While the code of your site might not have changed a great deal since you put it up, somehow errors creep in after a website is completed. Javascript can start to create errors, that widget or little snippet of html can cause unexpected side effects, and you css might have a typo that happened when you added a new little style. Things change and as static as websites seem they can break. A great example I have is Google Maps. I have a client that has a Google Map on their website and it worked great, until Google changed the version of the Maps api, and that page just stopped working. It did not take long to fix the page but it needed to be done. It can be hard to tell clients that their site needs to be fixed, but it is better that they have a website that works.

Check New Browsers

Web browsers are constantly being upgraded and changed. When Internet Explorer 7 came out one of the first things I did when I had a chance was to browse through my and my clients websites to see if anything looked broken. Don’t forget about Safari on Windows.

Check Your Log Files

Checking your website log files can give you some good information about other things you need to deal with like 404 errors, recent hacking attempts, robot visits and all kinds of information. I recently discovered that an image from one of my websites was being hotlinked on another website. I was curious why the bandwidth had doubled on that site. I thought I had that hotlinking code installed to stop that. Going through the stats showed me what image it was and what website so I was able to block the site from stealing my bandwidth.

Check Your Spelling

I suck at spelling. I was ok at it in the fourth grade but ever since it has been a downward spiral. I try and go through my sites occasionally to check for my spelling and grammar errors. Even if you are a professional writer check your spelling and use dictionaries and other tools to help.


There you have it, so get out there and change some dirty diapers on your website before the diaper breaks and you have an even bigger mess to clean up. Be thankful that when you do some of these things on your website, unlike changing diapers on your child, you don’t have to worry about getting poop all over your hands.

Categories: web-programming