The University of Arizona

What Website Owners Need to Know

It's 10pm. Do you know where your website is?

If you own a car, you generally know the make, model and year of the car, take the car to the shop for regular maintenance, get the registration renewed each year, have insurance to cover accidents, and keep an eye out for recall notices.

For websites you are responsible for, there are things you should know:

  1. Who *IS* the website owner? This is the person who has the final authority over the website -- is it finished enough to launch? Is the content mostly accurate and up to date? Does the address of the site need to change? Is it no longer needed and can be disabled? This person does not need to edit content or know HTML. Instead, they are the responsible party.
  2. What is the website made of? You should know whether the site is simply a set of HTML documents, or whether it runs off of a content management system, such as Drupal, Joomla, or Wordpress.
  3. Which major version of the technology is it running? For example, if the site is a Drupal site, is it running Drupal 6, Drupal 7, or Drupal 8?
  4. Who built the site? More importantly, is the person or unit who built the site still responsible for providing support?
  5. If the site uses custom domains, such as a .org or .com address, which firm is the domain registrar, and who holds the contract for this domain? This becomes relevant when a domain hosting contract expires, and the URL stops working. How much are you paying a year for your custom URL?
  6. Where is the site hosted, and who is responsible for the server it is hosted on? UAHS and COM-T sites are hosted on Pantheon (a commercial hosting company). Usually the server hosting firm performs maintenance on the server operating system (e.g., Linux) and web server software (e.g., Apache).
    How much does your hosting cost, and what are the terms of your service agreement?

  7. Who is responsible for performing regular maintenance and patching on the website itself? If the site is hosted by UITS, it may be on a server where the *client* is responsible for performing maintenance and patches (e.g., W6), or on a server where *UITS* does the site maintenance (W5). Maintenance may include applying important security patches on the content management system. If there is a service contract, what are the terms of that contract?
  8. Who provides support if the site breaks or is hacked? This WILL happen if the site software is not kept patched and up to date.
  9. Who provides content editing support and training?
  10. Who would you go to if your site needed a new look-and-feel?
  11. Is your site responsive and mobile-ready? This is important because Google is now demoting sites in their search results if they are not mobile-friendly.
    HOW CAN YOU TELL? Visit the Google Mobile-Friendly Test website and test your site.

  12. Does your site need a Google Analytics account, and if so, who owns the analytics data? Or, at least, who has access to the data?

If you know the answers to these questions, give yourself a pat on the back - you are a knowledgeable website owner!