Even if your site is built on a hosted solution or has automatic backups, I still like to save or export the website content in a format I can access outside of a website platform. Then, if I need to rebuild the site completely, I have all the pieces.
I pretty much assume that any website or platform can blow up or disappear any time.
I start with full-screen captures for all my main pages - Home, About, Contact, Services, Blog, and Store.
I capture at least one blog post, product, and category page as well. This shows me the layouts of each page, where all the sections are and where the text goes. Save the files together in a dated folder so you know when this reference was created.
Pro tip: take screen captures on your computer or laptop as well as on your phone. The layouts look different. For extra points, do screen captures on your tablet, too, if you have access to one.
Save each group of screen captures in a folder or place where you can date the screen captures and have them grouped together for your site.
Full screen capture tools:
- Chrome or Brave - GoFullPage extension
- Firefox - go to the menu in the top right, More tools, Customize toolbar, and find the Screenshot tool. Move it to your toolbar. When you want to take a screenshot, click the icon and then “Save full page.”
- your iPhone or iPad: take a screenshot, then tap the icon. Then select Full Page. Then save as photo or pdf.
I copy and paste all the content for each website page to a document and save it on my computer and in the cloud. Start with the main pages this month if you have tons of pages on your website. You can add a few pages each month until you have them all saved outside of your site.
Same for blog posts - I keep copies of those elsewhere too. And if you have tons of blog posts, start with copying the most recent 2-3 posts to Google Docs for this month.
I create a record of the site’s navigation, although a lot of that will be available in the screen captures. You can sketch a visual mind map or take specific screenshots of the menu and the submenus.
Then, I export all the information available to me from the platform - visitor information, sales information, products, blog posts, inventory, sitemap, whatever I can get. Finally, I add the date to the filename and store these files grouped in folders by date.
Different platforms allow you to export different files, so at minimum, search to see if you can export an XML file from the platform.
Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, Shopify, and Duda all allow you to export this kind of file for at least part of your site.
Shopify allows you to export products, inventory, orders, customers, and analytics data. I recommend downloading as much data as you feel comfortable with for each month.
For example, I export a handful of files, including orders, inventory, products, customers, and abandoned cart reports for my clients each month, which just takes a few minutes.
Then if I need that information, it is available outside of the platform. I back up the theme as well, if I’ve made any changes.
Ideally, you can repeat this process before you make major changes on your website, or once a year minimum.
Want more? Here's another post about backups:
Also, going through this process is one of the first steps in Your Website Buddy™, my 12 month website tips and reminders subscription. Check out Your Website Buddy™ here.