The Importance of Website Maintenance

kostaxWeb Design

I want you to get the MOST out of your website. My success comes when I deliver a project to a customer that gives them a return on investment. Essentially, I succeed when I help my customers succeed. I also have some in-depth knowledge about what makes websites successful that many clients haven’t been exposed to yet. I really want to change that. A website can’t just be published and left to grow. Like anything else we want to see flourish, we need to give it time, attention, and effort in order to see it become all we hoped for.

Your website must be maintained. By you, by me, or by someone else, it just has to get done. There are two main reasons your website must be maintained: Security & Software Updates. These things have some cross-over (and they don’t cover the continual improvement you want to make to the content of your site) but they are the foundations of keeping your website open for business.

Number 1: Security
The internet has completely changed our lives, and I cannot imagine a world without it now. But like anything in life- with the good comes the bad. We’ve seen how hackers can disrupt financial markets, cripple businesses, and interfere with governments. But it’s not just the “big fish” these troublemakers are after. Anyone who has a presence online is subject to hacking and viruses. Even a small business who runs a simple website. Your website’s goal is to bring you prospects, customers, brand awareness, sales and overall a good return on investment. A vulnerable website is putting all that at risk.

Number 2: Functionality
The software that powers your website is being produced by programmers around the world, and technology is in a constant state of improvement. It wasn’t long ago that websites were impossible to navigate on a cell phone (heck, it wasn’t long ago we didn’t have cell phones!). But all that has changed. And what is the standard today will be soon replaced with future technology. A lot of these improvements are things that help customers find, navigate, and use your website. We’ve all been to a website that looks completely outdated, and that can be a direct reflection on the company. If they aren’t keeping up with their website, are they keeping up with the times? Will they be able to help me? Those are NOT questions you want your visitors asking about your website.

Let’s talk a bit more about security.
Why on earth would someone want to hack onto your site anyway? There are actually many things hackers stand to gain from accessing your website. It’s likely their first mode of operation would be to scrape any financial information in your database. This could be customer’s credit cards, your account numbers, passwords to your financial accounts, etc. These things can give the hackers instant access to cash- typically with complete anonymity. But it’s not just money they are after. Once in your website, they can insert malicious scripts or code that work to infect the computers of anyone who visits your website. This can be a complete nightmare for you, and the angry customers that aren’t likely to come back and visit you. Not sure it’s true? I wasn’t either when I first started… But the truth is, hackers don’t need to personally come find your website, they’ve build sophisticated bots that can crawl thousands of websites with the click of a button.

There’s also the “software-side” of your website, which needs to stay up-to-date.
The typical website we build has over $1,000 worth of software behind it. Those software costs are ongoing and typically billed yearly.

WordPress is an open-source platform. This means there are thousands of developers producing software on the network. All of them working independently of one another. All the software must work in harmony together, and when they are all being updated and improved constantly, ensuring that they all play nice together is critical. When a software update arrives, it’s important to understand what changes are being made and if they might have an impact on any other software on your website. There can be conflicts that can cause anything from small annoyances all the way to completely shutting your website down. Blindly updating the software, or setting it update automatically is a recipe for disaster. But because of the security and functionality improvements the updates bring, it’s critical you keep them up to date.

A Website Care Plan can eliminate your headache entirely.
Website Care Plans are a typical offering of website development companies. That’s because developers understand the importance of keeping websites properly maintained. While every company’s Care Plan is different, typically they include keeping software up-to-date, security measures, and software licenses. Instead of spending your days away from your actual duties as a business owner, agencies can take these tasks off your plate and handle them for you. Not only does this save you time, but it will save you the headache of troubleshooting, diagnosing and implementing fixes when things inevitability break.

Sure, you can change the oil in your vehicle, but by the time you buy all the supplies, get completely filthy, find a way to dispose of the oil, and in my case become extremely frustrated, you could have paid $29 at the Jiffy Lube and been on your way. It’s this type of convenience that makes Care Plans a no-brainer for business owners.

What about software licenses? Yes, remember that $1,000 worth of software I mentioned was on the sites we build? They work off of licenses that allow you access to all of the updates they push out. A website owner needs a license in order to get the updates. These licenses range in costs, but typically go anywhere from $30-$200 per year for each piece of software. But developers and agencies typically have bulk licenses that allow us to install the software on multiple websites under one license and re-distribute it to our customers. This means our license can be installed on your website and kept up-to-date without you having to buy them all on your own. Because we purchase a bulk license, and spread the cost out among many customers, you can save hundreds of dollars per year being under our license instead of purchasing one of your own. This could be compared to buying into a group insurance policy.

In essence, a Care Plan is built to be a win-win for developers and business owners alike. Business owners can save money and focus their time on their business, not worrying about the upkeep on their website. Developers can keep their clients websites performing optimally (saving on support requests and reviving broken websites) and use their bulk licenses to make it affordable for themselves and clients.

Now that you have a better understanding, here’s the action you need to take. Like I mentioned before, someone needs to be taking care of your website. While it is possible to do this entirely yourself, many business owners find the convenience and time-savings worth the cost of a professional Website Care Plan from a reputable vendor.

Take inventory of all the software on your website, and make sure you have the proper, and active licenses to be receiving all the updates. Assess your website for any potential security threats. Common things like simplistic passwords are easy targets for hackers. There are many security platforms that can help safeguard you against malicious attacks. If you feel uncomfortable, or realize you don’t have time to handle this on your own, reach out to us to discuss which plan is best for your needs.