303 – Monitoring websites for clients

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

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Welcome to another in the Business Bootcamp series where we relearn everything we know about building WP sites and running a web design business from start to finish.

We are on Season 5, which is the last in this Bootcamp series and is about what happens after the website build.

Today we are talking about ‘Monitoring websites for clients’.

We are taking contrasting approaches to getting our new businesses running and our first client’s site built. She is a new lawyer with no previous site.

Agile v Traditional

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Agile (David): monitoring is built into approach as the design and build is based on ongoing UX data.

Traditional (Nathan): What is needed is decided in advance and the keys are handed over to the owner.

But it is never that simple. Relationships with clients after a traditional project rarely end with the site going live. Those who take an agile approach will not have clients continuously responding to user behaviour changes.

Health monitoring  

  • Visual: Is the site looking as it should?
  • UI: is the site working for the user as it should?
  • Performance: is UX as fast as it should be?
  • Technical: is the site running the most up-to-date software?
  • Security: Is vulnerable or hacked?
  • Legal: is it still complying with the law – accessibility / GDPR?

Most of these are concerned with sites built on dynamically changing systems like WordPress.

How do we deal with this?

Easy option… don’t be responsible for it!

I did not consider these things until I needed to consider them. Now I get a bit more ahead.

My solutions are Hexowatch, MainWP, keeping to limited software and following the news. UI issues are where I can get caught out. I now would prefer less sites to manage.

Ghost Inspector, Mailgun, Send in Blue.


I use something called Better Uptime as well.


Monitoring for business effectiveness

  • Visitors: numbers, types, traffic sources, browser types, time of day.
  • User behaviour: bouncing, excessive scrolling, dead clicks, rage clicks, quick backs, JS errors.

My tools are Clarity, Google Analytics, Accuranker, Google Optimise (AB tests, still never used effectively on a client site). I think this is more about thinking and setting up a sensible hypothesis than it is about the tools.

Cux.io and Omniconvert – conversion rate optimization (CRO) software.


Mentioned in this podcast:



Ghost inspector


Send in Blue

Better Uptime


Google Analytics


Google Optimise



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Transcript (if available)

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now, welcome your hosts. David warms me a Nathan wrigley.

Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast. You have reached episode number 303 entitled Monitoring Websites for Clients. It was published on Thursday, the 10th of November, 2022. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined in a few minutes for my chat with David Walmsley. But before that, a few bits of housekeeping to get us started.

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Okay, I'm chatting today with David Walmsley. We're in season five of our WordPress Business Bootcamp. This is the final series, so we're on the home straight now. This episode is entitled Monitoring Websites for Clients. No doubt if you are building websites, you have some kind of arrangement, some kind of care plan where you take care of their website, but how do you make sure that everything is running as it should be? What does that even mean? What kind of things are you monitoring for?

Are you looking for visual changes that might occur on the website? What about the ui? Are you looking at performance? Are you looking at security? Are there legal constraints that you've got to worry about? There's absolutely loads in here. Are you dealing with it? Do you hand it off to somebody else? How do you monitor it?

We've got a whole list of tools that might help you in this endeavor. So it's a nice episode and I hope that you. Welcome

[00:05:02] David Waumsley: to another in the Business Bootcamp series where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish. Where on season five, which is the last in our bootcamp series, and it's all about what happens after the website's built.

We're on episode two, which is talking about monitoring websites for clients. Nathan and I are taking contrasting approaches to getting our new businesses running. And our first client site Bill, she's a new lawyer with no previous site. And should we just quickly talk, Nathan, about our different approaches perhaps to this subject?


[00:05:36] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Very quickly. Yeah. So mine is the more traditional approach. You get a proposal out there, they agree to the proposal, you build the website, hand it over and move on to the next client. Basically, yes, it's as simple. So no monitoring for you? No, that's right. I just say siara and disappear off.

No, this was always like, care plan territory, but we'll get there. We'll get

[00:05:59] David Waumsley: there. Yeah, exactly. And for me going the Agile approach it really should be all about that because we try and get something out and we iteratively improve the design over time based on the feedback that we get from user experience.

So really my approach should be all about the monitoring. Really. Yeah. But. In the real world. It's never as simple as that. You have your care plans, like you mentioned. So yeah, the relationship continues, doesn't That's right.

[00:06:27] Nathan Wrigley: The client that's, there's a lot more to this though, than meets the eye because when you suggested this as a topic and I opened up the show notes that you'd created I thought there would only be like one or two things cuz when I was thinking about monitoring, the first thing that came into my head was only things like op time and everything else didn't really occur to me.

And then you've presented me with this list of sort of six or seven different things. And there's quite a lot in here, but I don't suppose it'll be a particularly long episode. But anyway, No,

[00:06:53] David Waumsley: and I've separate it into two sort of sections. There's kind of the help monitoring, making sure the website's running well, and then there's the more stuff that I'm supposed to be doing with the Agile approach, which is more the business effectiveness and monitoring that.

So should we start a little bit with the health monitoring, because I know, you end up doing some of this as well, even from a tradit. Point of view or used to do at least.

[00:07:16] Nathan Wrigley: So yeah let's go through all the bits and pieces that might make up health monitoring, cuz it is more than I thought.

Okay. Should we just kick off in order? Should we go in the order that you've written 'em all down? Yeah. The first one

[00:07:27] David Waumsley: actually, visual how the site is looking is something which I don't. I've only cracked recently because there's a tool for it. How did you deal with this before suddenly looked off?

Yeah, so

[00:07:40] Nathan Wrigley: The way that I would do this is I would go to the website. I would set myself like a Monday morning task, and I would randomly pick at one or two pages on all of. Probably a bit more by the time I'd got there. But the idea of the task though was to sit down and go through all of the client sites and just have a quick look.

So I'd go to the homepage and essentially just scroll up and down and if anything lurched out like that's not the way it's supposed to be, then I would explore further. The reality is that exercise became a bit boring because. Hardly ever changed. It was really rare. And so that was a weekly thing, and the only times that a client phoned up was when a site had been hacked and things had actually been put onto the website that shouldn't have been there.

And actually, it was stuff that was, it was awful. It was horrible stuff. And and so that was pretty obvious that there was something wrong there. But my task for that was a very much a manual one. But then now like you said, there are tools which. Take this on and you've got a few in your arsenal and I think I probably use the same one.


[00:08:53] David Waumsley: it's the one for that really is just HEXA watch. That's the one I use. And we both got deals with this, didn't we?

[00:08:59] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it's a really great tool actually in that you log in, it's a SaaS platform. And I guess there are tiers and what have you, but I, I think the lifetime deal that we got in, we don't need to worry about all that, but you just type in a URL and then you give it some instructions of what it needs to look at.

And so for example, it could literally look at the page and store a copy of that, and then next time it comes round, it compares it to the previous version. So you may have it set up daily. And you could say, for example, look at the top third of that page, and if there is a 10% change, then give me an email.

But it can go much further, it can look at the output html and if there's any changes in there, it can detect things like whether or not the platform that you are using. So if you move from WordPress over to Jula or something like that, and and it's great. The only, the.

Downside, is that it takes a while to get it right in that, the tiniest variation can trigger an email. And very often the email is not really wanted. Now, if it's a, if it's a static site, any variation is worth hearing about. But let's say in the case of WP Builds every single week the homepage changes twice a week because I put, Blog posts and podcast episodes.

And so I get that notification each week because a proportion has changed and I haven't really gone in and tweaked it. But it's a great tool.

[00:10:32] David Waumsley: Yeah. And then I think there are ways of doing it yourself, actually. I think there are scripts out there that allow you to be able to do this kind of screenshoting stuff and provide you information back.

And I learned something about this just recently and I did it cuz I used to get those emails and I was, the temptation then is to ignore them cuz I Oh, it's that site again. That's right. That's exactly the problem. Yeah. And I've changed it now to pick to ignore. T typically a homepage which may have something like a slide or something that's more likely to move cuz it's more complex page than another.

So I've tended to remove the homepage and swap it out with a bunch of other sites other pages. I think that's probably gonna give me a, cuz really my own experience is there's only been a visual change whether either they've done so. And I've got tools, which tell me a little bit about that.

Usually if they've added some new content in and otherwise it'll just be some cashing issue or some update issue, but it's very rare.

[00:11:30] Nathan Wrigley: So yeah, it's one of those kind of insurance policy tools in the day that it. track, something that truly is meaningful will be the day it pays for itself. But at the moment it feels like it pesters me and I'm happy to get the emails, if I was really that bothered about them, I would go and modify the search.

But I get mo, emails on a twice weekly basis and exactly like you said, you become a bit anesthetized to them. You don't really give them the attention that they deserve. So that. The it's like the boy who cried wolf when the real one comes along, you're just gonna be immune to it.

But it's a great tool. I if you've got many websites that you need to be monitoring and you've figured out how to do it, I do like your idea of going to a. Page that's never gonna change. I dunno, the contact OS page. Yeah. Or something like that. That seems like a more intelligent way of doing it, but there's loads and loads of different things that you can set up in there and different ways that you can make it work.

Just curiously. Cuz I never did ask. What did you do before that tool came along? Did you have a weekly regimen like I did? Was, Yeah,

[00:12:37] David Waumsley: I didn't really have anything. I originally, and this is the thing, whether you decide to, you made it part of your care plan. I didn't do anything like that.

I, because they were mostly being charged for the hosting. I didn't want the job, so I really didn't do anything, but I felt I should get ahead of it. So I think I even did a video on that. I used to set it up, so I had all of these tab. On a, there's a little extension where I could set them all up on the tab and go zoom and put them all up and have a quick look through each of the tabs.

To see if they all looked okay. So I used to do that regularly, but I did try to avoid taking responsibility. I said that it was up to them to see if their website was broken and let me know.

[00:13:15] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I think that's probably a, Certainly if you've got the automated tools, that's great nowadays, but it may be that your budget can't stretch to that and having some.

System in place where you or a colleague just goes and does a quick check. It's a bit like the check I always did before I handed a site over. I would just I'd been playing with it for several weeks and I was absolutely certain that it was finished, but just before I finally contact with client and say we're ready, I would then go pretty much through everything and just.

To give it one last check. It was more out of fear that I'd miss something than anything else. But you get your eye in, don't you? You just suddenly notice, Oh, hang on. That's quirky. Yeah. That's not the way it's supposed to be. But yeah, these tools are really good. So that's, Do you think we've done the visual thing there?

Have we? I think so, yeah. Okay.

[00:14:01] David Waumsley: The next one still I have no solution for this really. I've called it ui, so it's whether the site is working for the user testing things like forms or anything else that, needs to work, whether someone can place an order on the e-commerce or something like that, all that kind of stuff.

[00:14:18] Nathan Wrigley: I don't. This is checking that things like for example, forms or shopping carts are still functioning and they're possible to use. Yeah. I actually did full foul of this once and it wasn't WordPress. I was saying to you before we hit record back in the day when I was using Dral, there was a module as they're called in Dral called Web Form and it's, imagine gravity forms and what have you.

It. It was similar to that in that you could install it and it would take care of your form needs. And I got an email from the client basically saying, Look, can you just check? Because I don't know, a month ago the regular influx of forms that we get, 3, 4, 5, I don't know, however many a week or a day, it just dried up.

It's gone to nothing. And sure enough it. The form, the web form had stopped working. So in other words, the plugin had broken I think I probably updated it or anyway, the long and the short. It totally had broken and I felt really embarrassed actually, because I hadn't made any checks on the forms or anything like that.

And I've, to this day, I'll never know what kind of business they may have lost and all of that kind of stuff. , but it was salutary. It did make me feel, maybe I should be checking this kind of stuff as well. But you don't have a process, but you do know of tools that allow this to happen.

[00:15:39] David Waumsley: And you know of one that I did try out, but it's quite an expensive tool, so I couldn't justify the cost of it. Ghost Inspector will allow you to go through a process. It's been a long time since I used it, but it used to have a Chrome extension so you could go onto your site and record certain actions like filling in a form and then it would do that.

Regularly, whatever you set it to do, and then tell you if it failed. And I ran this for a while on one of my sites, but again, it was another one where the, where it gave me more false positives and came off. Yeah.

[00:16:12] Nathan Wrigley: So with a tool like that, you could set it up to, I don't know, purchase the t-shirts that you are selling.

Yeah. And it'll be like a fake purchase, but, hopefully it'll track whether the order is possible and so on. And in the same way it could track form submissions and see if they're coming through the curiously. I actually, this week got a I'm using fluent forms and I got.

I got an email, it was a, an error email from Fluent Forms to say that the connection between the form and in this case a CRM had broken. And I've never received an email like that before. And so that was curious to me. It had detected that the information that it should have been passing from the form to the cr.

Had not triggered or had not been successfully completed. And it's it warned me about it. So I was able to go in and test it again myself. And I thought that was curious. And then it got me thinking, wonder why form plugins don't have this built in. That, that capability to test itself.

So gravity forms, fluent, forms, ninja, formidable, whatever you could set up somewhere in the ui. Please test this form. Every week or month or whatever it might be. Now, I dunno how difficult that is to pull off. It might be really difficult, but just struck me as like a nice feature.

Yeah, I

[00:17:38] David Waumsley: agree. And actually I've only got one site that's got flu forms on it and it's, it sends me a weekly summary of people who filled it in. Yeah.

[00:17:47] Nathan Wrigley: And I think that's quite, that's nice. Ive, It's a nice little feature, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. So yeah. At. S Sorry. Gone. You were gonna say go.

[00:17:54] David Waumsley: No, I was gonna say at least you've got some idea that people are successfully completing

[00:17:57] Nathan Wrigley: it once a week. Yeah, that's, Yeah, that's right. And in the UI of a lot of these things, you can see if things have failed, but Yeah, typically I'm not really getting those kind of emails because I've lost contact with the site.

You. With your agile approach are probably much more likely to be looking through the back end of their website and forms might be a part of that. And so you could see any errors that were generated, whereas my approach, especially if they're not on a care plan, was always that's yours now you've gotta deal with that.

So I would always leave them with that message. Prior to handing over the site, I would test all the forms and make sure that I receive, I'd set me up as the recipient of any emails and test the forms, and then I would transfer that email address over to their one and say, Right now, will you test them all?

And once they'd tested them all, I would assume from that moment on that they were all gonna work success. Yeah,

[00:18:52] David Waumsley: there is something nice about working on a site ongoing is they're more likely to pick up on these things. So I like the agile shift that I've had. So the, I've had the wood forms, I've had the same issue twice really, And it's with using pop-up forms, which I was a big fan of, this kind of idea that someone clicks on a button they half committed in their lizard brain mode to fill in a form.

So I was very keen on those things, but they've been the source of my issue one technically, because it didn't flag up the, it. Popup were closed before the error message would show. So it was a complex form we were losing people. And then more recently another one using popup makeup. For some reason that seemed to fail on me and I've literally gone away and removed all of those.

I've dealt with forms in different ways. I thought this is a complexities, it's. Got me twice, yeah. And forms are so important that I thought, yeah, let's not try and be clever with this. Let's stick form there. Have you ever

[00:19:46] Nathan Wrigley: dabbled with, I know it's strictly not WordPress, but have you ever dabbled with SAS solutions to form?

So I can think of several. It's Wooo and there's paper form and Question Scout is another one I came across. And basically they're just SaaS solutions. You drop a. A piece of JavaScript in and it brings the form in. Obviously it's a piece of third party software loading, but something about that feels a bit reassuring maybe.

Yeah. I've

[00:20:12] David Waumsley: been working, paper form is something I've had for ages, and I'm gonna be using it for something complex and it's incredible. Yeah. Mean of course it's not gonna, it doesn't embed very well into a page if you want to keep it live, because it does so much stuff. It loads so much JavaScript by default, but gosh, it's so clever.

Yeah. So it's a separate page. I like that. And I've I did buy actually a. Because I wanted to be able to build some static sites I've built and I've forgotten what the ne Oh, form spark. Okay. I, they, I knew set up where they will you basically just put HTML in and it takes care of the rest for you.

It will do the delivery, it will report to you, it will send you and whoever you want messages. So I it's not actually in production anywhere at the moment, I've been testing it a lot. Really quite

[00:21:01] Nathan Wrigley: cool. And I think yeah, you get the feeling that there's some sort of safety net there isn't there with a SaaS solution because that's all that they're doing, and so long as their platform is just doing forms, they've got no compatibility issues.

It's not gonna conflict with any other plugins or what have you. So there is something that, yeah I've used them. The only. Gripe I have there is that, depending on who owns the account, it can be tricky to get it set up, if it's their account, they've gotta give you the login details for all of that kind of stuff.

But I guess that's no different from getting a license for a WordPress plugin, but yeah. Okay. So there's ui, ghost inspectors probably the best thing we know of, although neither of us are using it right now. Yeah,

[00:21:42] David Waumsley: exactly. Yeah, performance we put down next to, is it something we.

[00:21:48] Nathan Wrigley: Monitor it definitely used to be eyeballing it, didn't it?

Back in the day. It was just, is the site working? There was no real hint of Google getting involved in seo, and if your page is loading slowly, that's a problem. It was just, the anecdotal truth of if it takes longer than a second to load, you're gonna lose some visitors. Now it feels like this is a really crucial partner, but I'm not sure how much the client would care in our case.

The Miss a, the lawyer, I'm not sure she'd be obsessing with us about this, but it may be something that we ought to obsess about if we want her site to be, performant and rise up in the search engine rankings and therefore she's impressed because she gets lot of new business and recommends us to other people.

[00:22:36] David Waumsley: Yeah, I, it has become really important and I think for monitoring, we've also got the tools there. So the we both use main WP and that has a tool where you, it will do run tests and tell you what the Google score is, but also if we are monitoring the sites, and this is something I'm keen to do now, is to make sure that I go and check the search.

For clients that I'm supposedly going an agile route with. So I actually get better information on performance cuz I'm actually getting some of the real user data, which is the key thing with the performance rather than the local tests. Yeah. So

[00:23:14] Nathan Wrigley: this was always a line item on my care plans and I if memory serves, this was, Something which never really got taken up too much because this was on the higher priced care plans.

Yeah. And because there's actual work there and if you are gonna honor actually looking into, let's say, I don't know, Google Analytics or something like that, or Lighthouse data or whatever it might be, then you've gotta be doing it manually. If you get some sort of flag from main WP to say something's gone wrong, you've gotta be going.

Take a look at it. And so it wasn't something I ever got too involved with, to be honest. Speaking of Google Analytics, that was often the domain of. Of some department at their business, they would track that themselves and they'd have an interest in all of that themselves. And it wasn't something I necessarily got involved in.

It was, cuz it's related to their business, the Google analytics side of things. Anyway, it's related to their business. Not so much the web, not so much the me building it, it never really got in, but now the UX side of things feels like that is gonna be important and that. Would be my responsibility because I guess the hosting might matter, but generally speaking, it's the way the site's built and what tools and things you've got going on in the background.

[00:24:36] David Waumsley: Yeah I mean I personally never had a client that's been interested in performance apart from wo who, I built the, rebuilt their site actually, and it was really fast. I was quite pleased with myself. Oh nice. And they kept complaining. It was slow on their mobile and it was like the most, cuz no one's else, no one has said, Oh yes, well done on your fast performance site.

David, no one's ever bothered to, before I've. Somebody saying it was slow on their mobile and it was like I just, that, just Do

[00:25:05] Nathan Wrigley: you remember two years ago, maybe a bit more that we, there was just general widespread panic that this was gonna become the most important metric for everything.

Yeah. Google were bringing out all of their core web vitals, and this was, performance is obviously crucial to all of that, and our communities were just, It was like a never ending cycle of things that you needed to do and messages that you needed to give to your clients. But yeah I'm with you.

I don't think anybody ever asked me about this stuff, but maybe it's gonna become part of the vernacular and, departments who are responsible for sending out requests for proposals, maybe this'll be a line item, show us what you are gonna do to make sure it's as performant as. Yeah,

[00:25:54] David Waumsley: and the only people I've have heard talk about it when the clients are rolling on this, it seems like they've just got into web development themselves and they've got the wrong end of the stick.

They think the scores are more important than anything else. Yeah. And of course, the only thing that's important to Google is actually the real user data, and that can be entirely different from the scores that the tools are measuring for you. The, Luckily I've never had a client who's got into that because it sounds you end up with a bit of friction there,

[00:26:22] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Cuz you would really struggle to, to make that argument because that kind of data can be tracked. Whereas things like the content on the website is much more ephemeral and, there's a bit more artistry there. It you're gonna go into a bit of a rabbit hole where unless the numbers were constantly going up and it's only 96% David, it needs to be a hundred percent, does it.

I don't know. But yeah, I think, but it does,

[00:26:53] David Waumsley: It does Google publicly shame people now, don't they? If it's being measured to measured, then the data's in on that one. It's gonna say they, you don't pass core web vitals, yeah. So I guess the. The client at that point can say something gets set.

I feel a lot of 'em before they ever get to that point. And I think most of the sites don't seem to have enough traffic for Google to even bother going and providing the data for this.

[00:27:17] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. But also I think that this is one of the things that at least you. At least there is data and you can fix things.

If Google does come back with, Okay, this is a problem, this is a problem, this is a problem, this bit isn't a problem, then there's stuff to work on and you can tell the clients that, okay, there's work to be done. Things have moved on, times have changed. You haven't updated your site in several years.

It's time to get with the program and let's have another. , which is the next one,

[00:27:44] David Waumsley: Technical. Do we do this? It's a big umbrella. Tone really, I guess technical, whether they're running the latest software. And that could be anything, upgrading to the next PHP or the next mys sql. Is that something that we are monitoring and dealing with?

I guess we are.

[00:28:05] Nathan Wrigley: I guess it, I guess on to some level, it depends on where your sites are being hosted. If you're on some kind. Reasonably expensive managed WordPress hosting company. Yeah. Then yeah, they're gonna do this all for you. And They're pretty good, aren't they? I dunno if you've got any websites on those kind of hosts, but they're pretty good at informing you that, they've run their tests and your website seems to be fine.

It should be fine. And it's gonna be rolled over to the latest version of PHP on this date. So be mindful of it, and so on and so forth. So a lot of that side of things is taken care of, but I know that you are. Fan of things like Digital Ocean. And that's on you then, isn't it? To update? Yeah. How Do you monitor that and update things or do you just leave it?

What do you do?

[00:28:52] David Waumsley: PHP is fairly most of the time, most of the tools I have update to the latest version fairly quickly. Yeah. And then there's usually somebody left over. Yeah. and I do update something on my local site and then I will run debu to see if it's also, if it's. Throwing out some errors these days and something I would've never done before.

Yeah. But I tend to do it now. Yeah. But yeah, so I'd keep on top. The other side of it, I think we talked about last time is the fact keeping up to date with the software, How do we inform, the clients that perhaps the web is moving in a different direction. So plugins that they used to have don't get updated any longer.

Do we need to be alerting to the fact they might be needed, swap out whether software.

[00:29:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yep. And then you've got things like main WP and things like that, which will help you to do all of this easily. Yeah. But yeah, I think in terms of the. Updating my SQ and PHP versions and all of that, and obviously, the Linux needs to be patched if there's some problem.

If you've got a decent hosting company, that headache has been removed. But if that's on you, then I guess you've just gotta be keeping your eye out, reading some blog posts, look, looking at the WordPress and technical news and seeing when things need updating. Security. Okay, . Yeah, It's a black hole one, isn't it?

Because certainly I feel it's a bit like the technical one that we just talked about. If you're not into creating your own hosting environments, actually creating them yourself and doing all the Linux distribution updates and all of that kind of things. Then security's a bit of a black hole, and it's just so deep that I don't really have much insight into what's going on there.

There's a whole variety of solutions. In fact, I'd go as far as, say I've probably tried every single solution out there, and the message usually for me is, I don't understand this.

[00:30:46] David Waumsley: Yeah. Do you know what? I think I only have security monitors on because I've got clients. I think if I didn't, with WordPress knowing that I will update daily and I won't understand really the security issues, then I think I would just rely on some tightening up of WordPress and some tools, like the free tools that you got, bad bots, something which prevents those and do that.

But actually I don't, because I feel I have to report to clients. I feel something has to scan,

[00:31:13] Nathan Wrigley: so you have some sort of basis malware scanning tool, which you can at least fall back on and say we did the scans and the tools didn't pick it up. Is that an insurance policy basically?

[00:31:26] David Waumsley: Exactly. I've gone from word fence to, in fact, we still use mal care on some sites. The free version is very good on that. It doesn't fix stuff on the free version, but it tells you and it works very well. Virus die is a deal. I got some, but all of these, the key thing has been the thing that will do the scan, the firewall and the scanner.

They're the two things I look for and the scanner's, the monitoring for my clients.

[00:31:48] Nathan Wrigley: Really they, I guess the thing with all the security side is that, If like me and I think you are a bit like me, we are not really sure what's going on. Then any kind of information that it feeds back to you a bit. Like we said about earlier, you get these emails from I don't know plugins that, that tell you that we were talking about form plugins, giving you error logs and things like that.

If you get loads of security email. And you don't really understand what's contained within it. It's really hard to know when you need to react and when you should just, Oh, that one can be thrown away. At least I think that, Yeah.

[00:32:28] David Waumsley: Yeah. Yeah I don't really get any alerts on that. I get a little summary from Virus Di that says, well done you a hundred percent this time, your ace.

[00:32:39] Nathan Wrigley: You see that's exactly the problem though, cuz if you just keep getting those eventually your. Muscle memory will be like email from virus Die. Delete.

[00:32:48] David Waumsley: Oh, I never get tired of saying, them saying your all. Oh, okay.

[00:32:54] Nathan Wrigley: But what if one day you get an email? Seriously, do you just do individually open all those emails?

[00:33:01] David Waumsley: Yeah, I only get like a weekly summary. I do open up one. Okay. Yeah, because it's looking overload of sites and it actually gives me a point score. So if something did come up in that week, it would let me know, but then it would let me know anyway if there's an issue.

And I've, to be honest, I've never found an issue with this security monitoring and it used to put them in reports and now it's just for me now. Yeah. But it's still good to know. It's been done and I can prove it's been done

[00:33:26] Nathan Wrigley: should a client ask. Yeah. And again, you are just distancing yourself a little bit from the problem by saying we are doing something.

And you are very honest with your clients anyway, aren't you? You're not claiming to have some sort of degree in web internet security, just saying, I'm gonna do what I can do. We've got these tools which will help us. And beyond that, it's gonna be a case of getting things cleaned up by a pro.

[00:33:54] David Waumsley: And then the other thing that we might take responsibility for, the last one is the legal stuff, isn't it? Which we've mentioned before. Things like accessibility laws change in GDPR office. Who was the big one that came in? No, not this case

[00:34:06] Nathan Wrigley: though. Cuz she's a lawyer so she's dealing with this. I'm sorry.

That's just do.

[00:34:10] David Waumsley: I dunno. I wouldn't believe that she would know about this. No, I'm

[00:34:13] Nathan Wrigley: sure she wouldn't. No, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I think this is gonna become increasing. More required. I think when you and I began doing web design, none of this, not a single scintilla of it mattered.

You could put anything up on the internet. It was a free for all and it didn't matter. But now of course, it's become a. Completely essential part of our lives. Almost like a human right, if you like. And so things like accessibility and how incredibly important things like privacy, gdpr, that you mentioned incredibly important.

And there are gonna be laws which you are gonna have to obey. And, but I, It's tricky, isn't it? In your case, if you are working with them and continue to work with them, as this stuff comes across your table and you hear about some new guidance that you need to follow in the uk, you can tell that to your clients and work through it with them.

Whereas with me, if I've severed relations with them, Then really I need to make it clear that's on them at the point where they take the site over, I need to put this in writing that, from this moment on, anything to do with applicable laws is up to you to fix.

[00:35:30] David Waumsley: One thing that cross my mind though, as we're talking about monitoring, how do we know this?

You were telling me earlier about you, you'd spoken to someone, interviewed someone who knew much more about accessibility laws and how they applied to different areas and that, and I wouldn't have known any of that. So you've got your monitoring built into the podcast that you're doing, all the other interviews that you do with people, but.

How does the regular, I'm diving outta that stuff, so why I could easily not

[00:35:55] Nathan Wrigley: know. I think the problem here is one, Just distributing the information. So if, Yeah. The podcast episode in question is for the WP Tavern, and it's with a guy called Joe Dawson. It'll be out in, probably by the time that this episode comes out, it'll be out, so you can look for it over there.

But he's obviously He's really interested in web accessibility. That is the cornerstone of his business. He's an accessibility expert, if you like, and so really the only route I think for knowing that kind of thing is to be engaged with people like him reading his blog posts and engaging in.

Facebook groups that take this seriously, or Slack channels that take this stuff seriously. Certainly there's no male dropping through my door. Lawyers aren't contacting me saying, Have you got websites accessible? But I think that in the future, if we do get more litigious, I think things like website accessibility and complying with those kind of laws, you are gonna get ambulance chasers who are just creating lawsuits.

Not thin air, they'll develop tools to automate the process of finding websites that don't comply with, let's say, accessibility, gdpr, whatever, and they'll potentially come after you. So I think this is gonna matter more and more. It's gonna just be another part of the arsenal of things that everybody has to learn.

[00:37:20] David Waumsley: I really don't want publication. Is that, as I pull out with more groups, cuz I waste too much time in that kind of stuff I realize that I could, cut off on certain bits of information, stuff like this.

[00:37:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I think I would lose, I think it's a question of you finding those publications and then making it part of your.

Cycle. Yeah. If you're, certainly, it's never gonna appear in like the daily press or anything like that. You're gonna have to find these people. There are organizations, web aim and things like that, that do it. But if you go to that WP Tavern episode, Joe Dawson is his name, d o l s o N.

When it comes out, there's a huge list of links at the bottom of that post. I don't know, 15, 20 links of places where that you can go to find out about accessibility in particular. So yeah it is going to matter, I think. And so you are, as a web developer, WordPress website builder in the future, this legal component I think is gonna become more and more part of what we need to know.

[00:38:23] David Waumsley: Yeah. Even though I have the longer relationship with clients, or I'm aiming to have that now I actually think I probably take less responsibility than I ever have, trying to set my relationship as an ongoing service for people as I shared adult. The website is theirs and where responsibility, I'm bringing in my skills rather than I'm guaranteeing all of these.

Will be monitored and taken care of, but I've definitely moved away

[00:38:51] Nathan Wrigley: from that. Yeah. And I guess you've just gotta position yourself so that you don't take the responsibility on for everything. Yeah. An easy example would be uptime, if the site goes down. Yeah. You've just gotta be sure that the client knows that you've gotta talk to the host.

We now no longer have an ongoing relationship. I built the site for. But you are paying for the hosting. It's got nothing to do with me. You need to speak to them. But I think sometimes that's very hard for the clients to understand because you built the site, you are responsible.

It's gone down. What's gone wrong. And it might be nothing to do with you. So setting those boundaries and making sure that they know. But look at all the different things that we talked about. So there were six things there, visual UI performance, technical security. Legal is the job then to disassociate ourselves as much as possible with all of those things so that less culpable should anything be spotted that goes wrong.

[00:39:53] David Waumsley: I think not mislead. I think we have no control over most of those things directly, Do we? And I think just making people aware that you're as best as I can, that I'm on their side and I'm working to help them with all of these things, but I don't. Singly get to control it.

Even something like you just mentioned, which we didn't really talk about there, I do the hosting for people. I couldn't guarantee people are not time, even technically. The, because how their site can still go down because their domain name server goes down. In fact, that's the only thing that seems to go down for Right.

My downtime for my clients, but, They can't distinguish to between the two. The site is either up or down. Did,

[00:40:33] Nathan Wrigley: did you ever get asked that by clients? Cuz I have been asked that I have been asked for an SLA on uptime before and that really rang alarm bells for me because not only did I think, okay this client.

Kind of has real skin in the game, but they're asking me direct questions about that presumably, so that if it doesn't meet that standard, they can come and come for me, and come and say this is what you promised. And at those moments I really was quite clear that none of that was my responsibility.

We are dealing with a third party hosting company. It will be up to them if the website goes down for the reason. For a variety of reasons. But yeah, I, it was difficult for many of these clients to understand that the website and the hosting were separate components and that the DNS was a separate component.

All of this needed a lot of explaining. Yeah,

[00:41:33] David Waumsley: I've never had it. No one's ever got actually that's not true. Somebody who I've I've led them to leave as I, I don't really wanna carry on doing the work with them. And they told me the other day that their site was down that the person who was now supposed to be building a new site, I told them that it was down and I went there and it was up and.

I'm not sure that's possible because the monitors go off of these things all the time. So anyway, I just thought, okay, it's up now. I dunno what happened. . Yeah. Yeah,

[00:42:04] Nathan Wrigley: And to be fair that happens quite frequently, doesn't it? You will be on a site and it will go down, but it'll go down for a matter of seconds.

So a good example. And it's it makes me really happy. I bought a lifetime deal for a piece of software called Better Uptime and I think you did as well. And it's not a, it's not a plugin, it's a SaaS app, but it does one thing. and it does it really well. It literally just monitors whether the website is up or down.

And it, this got tons of permutations. There's loads of stuff in there, but I just use it for that thing. And when I do the update on Main WP and I click Update All, I very often get a slew of emails from Better Up Time because the site has gone into maintenance mode for let's. 15 seconds whilst the whilst the plug-ins are being updated.

So it has gone offline, the uptime monitor has spotted it. I get a bunch of emails to say problem warning. And then I get the one, a few seconds after that to say, actually forget that it's gone. Which makes me believe that those tools work really well. I thoroughly recommend better uptime.

It's absolutely b. , and you've reminded me

[00:43:23] David Waumsley: of another thing to monitor there, which it does for us, which is when the domain name is expiring, which is something which clients sometimes forget to renew. Yes.

[00:43:30] Nathan Wrigley: I'd forgotten it did that. Yeah, it doesn't it? It lets you know, I think. I dunno if main WP does that as well, but certainly better op time keeps a close eye on that.

So if you are, it's never a problem for me cuz all my domains are on recurring, I have to go in and deliberately say that I'm gonna not purchase them again next year. But for the clients, Oh yeah, that's a, that can be a real problem. I. Yeah,

[00:43:56] David Waumsley: gosh, we thought we were going to rush through that stuff quickly.

We still got another side. The monitoring for business effectiveness, which is what the agile thing's supposed to be more about. Trying to get some information back about how real users are using the website is so we can look for clues and how to continuously improve it. Should

[00:44:17] Nathan Wrigley: we

chat about that?

Cause it's, Yeah. There are so many tools in fact, I think the problem with a lot of these tools now is that there's so many. There's so many data points coming out of them Yeah. That it get, gets lost. Like back in the day, Google Analytics came along and at the time that it came out, it was fairly straightforward to understand.

Honestly I think it's like I could spend a month. Learning about Google Analytics and still not know half of what it does. So sometimes I do wonder, , how much of this data do we actually need? Do we need data on absolutely everything? And apparently the answer is yes, but it's then making sense of all that data.

[00:44:58] David Waumsley: Yeah, I think it's very easy to make it complicated. I've gone for this agile approach where we take our clues, but I've kept it as simple as possible. And Google Analytics, of course the traditional one that we're used to is going to go away and we now need to convert over to Google Analytics for, isn't it, for which?

And yeah, it has a whole different approach to it. But I still think, yeah, Monitoring visitor numbers, the types of visitors, perhaps the time of day sometimes is interesting, the types of browsers that are using it, whether there's more on mobile, all of that kind of stuff gives you some sort of indication, which may be on new builds you wouldn't have known about and can influence

[00:45:40] Nathan Wrigley: changes that you might make to the, think, I think for you with your Agile way, this is really great data.

If you see. You change something on a whim and the number of, I don't know, visits to a certain page just died, then you can work with that. Whereas for me, it, unless somebody's paying for my time to look at this data, it's really not gonna happen. It was like we mentioned a minute ago, with Google Analytics, unless somebody was paying me my hourly rate to sit down and go through a lot of this stuff, it basically wasn't gonna happen.

And so you'd go from. I don't know. You may go for several years and then they come back to you and say we wanna refresh the website. And you say, Okay. Tell me about what you've noticed with the Google Analytics over the years. And of course the answer 99% of the time was, We've no idea.

Nobody's been monitoring that , But your approach allows for it, I think much more than minded. Yeah, but I'm sure of the

[00:46:40] David Waumsley: tools, there are a few things that do. Another great deal was ACU Ranker. Good tool there that allows you to rank keywords. So that's something that we'd often start off with.

We're trying to rank for certain things with a new business, and then just see how effective we're being. On that. There are other tools, of course, that do that. Yeah, I've never got into, again, a free tool that we can use, well free to a certain degree for AB testing this Google Optimize. I've only ever experimented with that.

But Clarity is the tool that. The Microsoft Clarity is the tool that I think is really useful for getting user behavior, which is the key thing. We're looking for how people are using the site and it will record for free your visitors and you can watch what they did and where they moved around with their mouse.

[00:47:27] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I think you are not the only one to talk to me about Microsoft Clarity and how useful it is and my understanding is it's totally free. Yep.

[00:47:37] David Waumsley: And it tends to be free for good. It's great. If you're not really into the numbers either, you don't really Google Analytics, you will give you the basic numbers there, but it gives you a few of these kind of just useful things to look at.

They've got excessive scrolling to see if people are moving up and down pages a lot, meaning they can't find what they want. Dead links where, sorry, dead clicks where people are clicking on things. So they're always good to look at, to see if. Think something is the bottom when it's not right. ,

[00:48:08] Nathan Wrigley: right. Oh, that is interesting.

Okay. Yeah.

[00:48:11] David Waumsley: That's a really useful one. Rage links where rage. Clicks, sorry. Where people are, clicking cuz it's not doing so that can give you over and over again. Yeah. Quick backs. Also, when supposed to be an indication when somebody shoots straight back to the page that we're at before, it's an indication that perhaps the page that they went to isn't given and what they expected to find.

So all these, I think that's a really great tool. There's lots and lots of things out there, things I've bought that allow you to get into that in depth. But if you want something very simple, I think everybody, even if you're just doing a care plan now and wasn't gonna an agile route, might want to consider putting in something like Clarity

[00:48:50] Nathan Wrigley: just so if it's free, I.

I guess in my system, let's imagine a scenario where Miss A has the website built, but then she doesn't want a care plan. Yeah. It would definitely go onto a list of things to recommend, yeah I could certainly set that up and get it running with their account and then say, Okay, now it's up to you to monitor that.

For sure. Yeah,

[00:49:13] David Waumsley: I think it can come back and tell you a lot of stuff. It is got the usual hotspots that you get with these tools that your hot jar is the well known one of that. Yeah. So it does that and you are scrolling, so you get to see. So it's been a bit of an eye opener. Some things I've believed in about how pages will be scrolled down.

I've been. Quite keen to go for the long form homepage, which has all of the stuff in there, but maybe I've made some wrong decisions there when I look at the statistics then.

[00:49:38] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Interesting to where I to get to. There's a, there's some of these tools, which kind of more or less shoot video of what the user is doing, and it's quite interesting when you look at them, if they come to the website and they're, I don't know, for three or four seconds, they look at what's at the top of the site where the hero is, and then you see them quickly scroll.

Down and then quickly scroll up again, it just gives you some sort of insight, Oh, what are people actually doing on this website? Where are they landing? Where are their eyes getting drawn to? Where does the mouse end up? And it can be fascinating. My only concern with those is what they're doing to the sort of CPU on the users end.

Are they slowing things down? But I'm guessing that Microsoft have tried to make it as well as lean as possible.

[00:50:22] David Waumsley: I've installed it and the all the speed tests was actually the same as they were before. Yeah. It's the first thing I was worried about. Yeah. But yeah. Yeah, it's

[00:50:31] Nathan Wrigley: not really the speed test side of things.

It's more like, how is it draining the battery on the mobile phone that is being inspected and things like that. I'm, yes. I'm sure it probably won't make much of a difference, but you never know if it's constantly sending back information every, half a second to their server. Just telling you where the mouse is now and how long it's been there and all of that kind of stuff.

I don't know. I have no idea whether that'd be a, an important consideration or not, but the tools are certainly there. There's loads of tools and I do feel that in your scenario with your. Agile approach. This is a, this is an absolute mosque. You've gotta be doing this kind of stuff. Talking with them, showing them the data, all of that.

I think,

[00:51:11] David Waumsley: just to be a better designer, I think even if you don't do that, installing clarity and maybe looking at some old sites is quite interesting. I definitely, because you can look at something like just the very simple thing about where people are scrolling to, of course, behavior is entirely different for mobile than they are for a desktop.

And being able to look at that and look at your design, and I think it, just gives you some ideas about whether your design did do well, did it lead people on to get to the.

[00:51:39] Nathan Wrigley: Yep. Yeah, in your scenario you are working with them, but in my scenario, just popping in once every six months and giving it a 10 minute Oh glance, just to see if there's something that you can go back to the client with and say, Look I was just browsing on your website and I noticed this.

Let's have a discussion about how we can improve that. Cuz I've got some ideas. It may be a way to to revitalize and get work out of a client that, that's gone yeah, indeed. So much for that being a short episode. We're on 47 minutes. What happened there? Oh

[00:52:14] David Waumsley: yeah. Is that for this one?

[00:52:16] Nathan Wrigley: Definitely. Okay. Next. Where are we going next? Hosting. Okay. Hosting. Oh great. Oh, we're gonna have to be so careful mention no names. So that'll be in two weeks time. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Have a nice couple of weeks. See you later. Yeah, you too. Cheers.


[00:52:34] Nathan Wrigley: I hope that you enjoyed that. Very nice chatting to David Walmsley today, all about monitoring WordPress websites for your clients.

If you have any thoughts, please head over to our website, WP Builds.com. Search for episode number 303, and leave us a comment there. Alternatively, join us on Masteron WP Builds.social, and you could leave as a comment there. Oh, there's always our Facebook group, WP Builds.com. Facebook, we love to hear your comments whether you agree with us or disagree with us.

The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of manage WordPress hosting that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me/WPBuilds. And we do thank GoDaddy Pro for their continuing support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay, we will be back next Thursday as it was a chat with David and I this week, next week it will be an interview. We'll have to wait and see who that's going to be. We'll also be going live as we always do for our this week in WordPress show on Monday, 2:00 PM UK time. Bookmark the page, WP Builds.com/live and join us.

Live in the comments. It's always a pleasure when people do that. Okay, That's all I've got for you this week. I hope you have a safe week. I'm gonna fade in some really quite cheesy music and say bye life for him.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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