Obituary - Wally Website


Wally was presented to the world through one of the popular CMSes (Content Management Systems e.g. Wordpress, Joomla, Silverstripe etc), a beauty to behold and everything his parents could have wanted.

Early in his life Wally received regular attention and grew with the regular input of fresh content as those responsible for him were enthusiastic and cared for his wellbeing. Unfortunately that enthusiasm waned and eventually disappeared altogether as his creators moved on or found other projects to fill their time.

As time marched on, the environment in which Wally was located was being improved and updated until Wally was no longer a comfortable fit. It wasn't long before Wally was showing the signs of a terminal illness and medical attention was sought.

After a thorough examination and discussions with his caregivers  the unpleasant conclusion was reached that Wally was going to have to be allowed to slip away.

In all seriousness, dying websites are all too real.  Over recent months we have worked with a number of our customers to try to resurrect terminal cases. With some we have been successful and with others we have not.

Here are some of our findings;

  1. Developers often turn over a website's maintenance to those who originally commissioned the work. Those people often move on and their replacements are not able to pick up where their predecessors left off. They either lack the skills, knowledge or enthusiasm for the project.
  2. Even where commercial modules, plugins and themes were purchased as part of the original work, sometimes they have been abandoned by their developers. Such modules can rapidly get out of date and become incompatible with the hosting environment. Moving a design from an abandoned theme to another one is usually impossible.
  3. Commercial modules, plugins and themes are used by the developer but the subscription is either never paid or allowed to lapse, resulting in an inability to keep them updated.
  4. The current caretakers of a site often have no idea why a certain module/plugin is on the site, what it does or whether it is in fact needed.
  5. Sites have a tendency to collect detritus. Content, Modules and Plugins get added, later orphaned (i.e. no longer accessible from the site itself) and no one is sure whether they are actually relevant or needed so they just get left. Unused modules and plugins can often contribute to a site's poor performance.

Our conclusions;

  1. Websites should in most cases be considered living things.  They need care and attention on a regular basis.
  2. Even with the best care, a website often has a limited lifespan - 2 years seems to be the point at which decisions need to be made.
  3. All CMS software software, its modules, plugins and themes can never be considered to be 'set and forget'.




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