“The other day I tried to design a finish line, but I didn’t know where to start.” —Jarod Kintz

No matter how hard we may try, designing and developing a web system is never a finished product, or at least one we can all ignore as it passively generates income. A web system often needs attention, little tweaks and fresh content. So let’s check in…

As I add web design and development case studies on the Forge and Smith web system and update my personal web design portfolio on my freelance web system, I want to check in with each of you to see how you’re doing with your online presence at the end of 2013. How well is your content performing? Does visitor activity offer any new opportunities for improvement? Is there a new widget or plugin you want to add? Is a lack of regular updates limiting your presence at the top of search engine results?

At the end of each year, I make an extra effort to mind my web maintenance. I urge all of us to treat our web systems like we treat our cars. We need them every day to bring our businesses to the world and the world back to our businesses. We want it all to run as smoothly as possible. By maintaining our web systems, we ensure we’ll never get stuck at the side of the Web, flagging down the first web designer or developer we spot.

How do you check in on your web system? Google Analytics is the first place I go to monitor performance. Visitor activity can tell you a great deal about where you may need to address a particular section, tweak a widget or plugin, and update content.

If you find that visitors that use a particular browser bounce after a few seconds, you may use this cross-browser testing tool to see, perhaps, exactly why they click away.

There are many other Web-based tools. If you’re a tech-savvy entrepreneur, Google offers data, tools and diagnostics to help you optimize and maintain your web system.

As a professional web designer and developer, I use a range of other tools to assess functionality and load testing, such as ActiWATE, webdriver, OttoMate, Pylot and Siege.

Don’t wait until your ecommerce system is broken, your customers leave, or your Google Analytics reveals you’ve been sandboxed for little or harmful content during 2013. Many times people contact me simply to discuss future opportunities on the Web.

Maintain your web system regularly, and it’ll take your business where it needs to go.