Have a student intern and want to keep him/her busy? Great. But please don’t unleash them to update your website without a clear plan and supervision!

While I fully support helping students gain skills, they must be supervised with a clear plan. Many times I’ve witnessed website interns attempt to make major revisions to the website, eager to prove themselves. It’s understandable and usually happens because a supervisor dumps the task on them, so naturally they are tempted to change the design, the navigation, labels and naming conventions, page paths, functionality, etc.

The problem is they don’t know what they don’t know! They aren’t familiar with past decisions about content and functionality. Plus they are not yet experienced in marketing, technical issues, Search Engine Optimization tactics — all of which can cause long term problems to fix, causing excessive labor and financial cost.

Have a plan before any changes are made.

Set your website intern up for success. Take the time to work out a clear plan before any changes are made.

  • Involve the person/company that currently manages your website. Their responsibility is to keep your underlying architecture and technology working, kept it secure from vulnerabilities, back it up regularly, etc.
  • Make sure everything is backed up continuously and that there is a process to quickly roll back in case mistakes are made.
  • Any new users need to be given clear parameters of what they can/can’t change.
  • Each user should have a unique login. Please never casually share login accounts. You need to lock people out after they have completed their work with the company/organization.

I’m not trying to be harsh on student interns. Like I said, they need experience and supervision, just as any other employee might, to bring them up to speed and help achieve success. To avoid problems, which will cost you time and money, make sure anyone tasked with maintaining your website are following basic rules to keep everything secure and functional.