Your home isn’t the only place that needs regular cleaning and organizing. Now is not a bad time to take stock of your website and tackle some tasks you may have been putting off for a while.
Over time, websites acquire new content, media files, links, users, and plugins. At one time, all of these may have been valuable but today, maybe not so much. Clutter builds up—even in digital environments.
By clearing out unnecessary data and content and performing some other simple clean up, you can give your viewers a better experience, ensure your content is relevant and up-to-date, and make your site easier to manage.
But where to start? These five tips are definitely not an exhaustive list, but they are not a bad place to start your spring clean up.
1. Scrub Your WordPress “Users” and Their Roles
Do you have users listed on your website that graduated or retired three years ago? To find out, view all WordPress users from your dashboard’s menu.
If you’re a site administrator, you can delete any users that you know no longer need access to your website by going to the listing of all users, hovering over their unity id and then clicking delete. If you’re not sure about a user, we recommend sending the person an email first. This way you can avoid kicking out someone who needs access. Also, please do not delete “super admins” because you will be kicking out the oit group. (We can get back in, but please don’t make us do it.)
If you’re a site administrator, you can also change the “roles” assigned to different users, giving them fewer or more permissions to make changes to your site. An administrator, for example, has broad access to the admin features of the site, whereas authors can publish, edit, or delete their own posts, but they can’t change anything created by other users. To review the role definitions of users, please visit https://wordpress.org/support/article/roles-and-capabilities/.
To change roles assigned to users, navigate to “all users” and search for users by name or unity id. Once located, you can click on their unity id, then edit, which will take you to their profile page. Scroll about halfway down their profile page, and you will see a selection for “role” in a dropdown menu. Once you select the role, click “update” at the bottom of the page.
For security reasons, every user should only have enough privileges to perform the work they need to do – and no more.
Adding new users to your site is usually straightforward. If your site is hosted in a single site environment, you will see the “add new user” button at the top of the listing for “all users,” and you will also see that item in the dashboard menu (under users).
When you click, you will land on a page where you can add the unity ID of the person you wish to add, assign a role, select send notification (for an auto-generated notice to the new user) and then click the button to add new user at the bottom. Simple.
In a multisite environment, the process is a little bit more tricky. New users need to login to the dashboard with their unity ID and password, which will create a basic account for them. At that point, you should be able to see that account in the dashboard’s “all users” listing. This will allow you to change their role on their profile page to give them the right amount of access.
2. Repair Broken Links
Over time, some of your links may stop working because their targets or the content they lead to has been moved or deleted. These broken links can be frustrating to your visitors and can make your site appear less trustworthy.
You can fix broken links manually by reviewing all your links one at a time. You can go through each piece of content, clicking on every link to check that it’s working and that it leads to the resource you intended.
If you have a lot of content, this process could be a little tedious. In that case, you may want to consider installing the plugin Broken Link Checker. This tool alerts you to any links that are no longer working. One option is to install it, run a check, correct any issues detected and then deactivate and delete the plugin when you are done.
3. Sweep Your Media Library
Media files can take up a lot of space, which can be a problem if you have a lot of old media files on your site that are no longer used.
You can go through your WordPress Media Library and delete unused media files manually or you can consider using a plugin to make the process faster, but be careful you don’t accidentally delete something in use.
At the same time, consider manually adding more meta data to every image that you keep—alt tags, proper titles (not random file numbers generated by a camera) and descriptions. This makes it much faster and easier for all users to find assets and helps to ensure that images will be added with accessibility and SEO in mind.
4. Conduct a Thorough Audit of Accessibility
The ability to interact with digital content has never been more critical. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure every website is accessible to every visitor.
One of the most common errors is not adding an ALT tag every time you add an image. The main purpose of ALT tags is for the benefit of visually impaired users who use screen readers when browsing. To correct this issue, you will need to re-insert images with the ALT tag (to provide a description of what is pictured) and then update the page or post.
To thoroughly check your site for accessibility, consider activating the NC State Accessibility Helper. This super-handy plugin checks for ALT tags and other common accessibility issues users introduce when creating content and highlights them with simple to follow instructions, making it easy to correct issues.
5. Conduct a Thorough Content Review
Every piece of content on your site should serve a purpose, so it makes sense to regularly conduct a full content review. This means revisiting each existing post and page and looking for content that:
- is out of date or irrelevant now and needs to be deleted or revised
- could be condensed (using more lists, for example, can simplify and reduce clutter)
- is similar and could be combined into a single page or post or could be linked to rather than duplicated
- is in large blocks and could be broken into smaller sections by using subheadings
Reviewing your Google Analytics to better understand how visitors are using your site may help you to make better decisions about your content, too.
Doing a thorough review of your complete website will take some time. Still, we highly recommend doing a full content review at least once a year.
As you work through your review, you might also want to consider updating images and other visual elements to freshen up your look.
These five tips are designed to help you get started on a spring clean up project. To level up, we’ve collected a few resources that can provide additional tips and support:
- WordPress Codex and Support Forums (and Google!)
- Campus Video Tutorials: wordpress.ncsu.edu/support/video-tutorials
- NC State Help Desk: email@example.com
- Gutenberg Help: go.ncsu.edu/gutenberg