Once you build your website, you’re done, and it takes care of itself, right? WRONG! Website owners also have to face the cost of maintenance.
There are two main types of website maintenance.
- The first is maintaining the integrity of the website code – the code that allows your website to display and function.
- The second type of maintenance is the regular updates to your website content.
A website is like a time bomb with many fuses that are constantly burning down. Plugins, extensions, and your website framework (WordPress, Drupal, etc.) need to be updated in order to reduce bugs and hacking.
Why do you need website framework upgrades?
Websites are like any other software application you may use, Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, etc., in that they have versions, each new version adds features, or fixes security flaws. If you don’t upgrade your website then you can’t take advantage of new features and hackers could gain access to your website through some “backdoor”. This is why it’s always advisable to keep your website version up-to-date. If you have a website on a DIY (do it yourself) hosting service like SquareSpace, Wix, or Shopify, etc., they will take care of these version upgrades since you are just “renting” their base website software and they are liable to maintain it.
If however, you have a regular website on a standard hosting service, you are just renting the hosting “space” (not the website software) and they will not perform any upgrades for you. This means that you are responsible for maintaining your website framework, by upgrading it when a new one comes out. This could be every few months or every few years depending on what type of framework your website is built on. The graphic below shows the versions of WordPress that were released so far this year. Each one of these versions fixed bugs and vulnerabilities.
For a no-nonsense estimate on your website maintenance, please fill out our Inquiry Form and we’ll respond within 12 hours.
Why do you need to upgrade plugins and extensions?
Plugins and extensions are mini-applications that you add onto to your website to increase the features, like having a slideshow on the home page (an easy target for hackers), a video player, a photo gallery, a social media feed, etc. These mini-applications also routinely expire and need to be upgraded or they can become the backdoor that hackers use to access your website. Many website frameworks will alert you when a new version of a plugin is available – but you have to be paying attention.
What if I have in-house IT?
If you have web-oriented, in-house IT staff, they should be monitoring the website on a regular basis and keeping up with expirations and updates. If you don’t have an IT resource, you have a few options:
- Hire an IT consultant or Web Agency that can remotely monitor your website and make any updates for you. This consultant should have access to your hosting account and all your add-ons, plugins and extension licenses.
- Contract with an automatic updating service that will automate your website updates. These services are effective if your website doesn’t have too many customizations. If your website is heavily customized, then making a simple upgrade can cause a ripple effect and bring the whole website down.
- Ignore it and hope that your website will be safe from expiration, hackers and malware. Ride that pony till it drops.
What are some examples of website maintenance services?
Marcus Interactive offers maintenance packages where we monitor and keep your website current. For simple updates, it shouldn’t take us more than a couple of hours to update and test a simple website. More complex websites may require many hours of effort.
What about content maintenance?
Most businesses have an ongoing need to update website content, like; product or service information, staff bios, news, etc. Modern website frameworks, like WordPress, have built-in content management Systems (CMS) that allow non-tech users to manage content. We find that most businesses are so busy running the day-to-day that their website content is continually being back-burnered. A web agency that knows your business can help by scheduling content edits and providing a communication process to allow for quick response to client requests. Costs for this service depend on the number of hours your business requires. For example, we have some clients that we bill under $500 a year because their content updates are so minimal. Other clients require 40 hours or more of content work every month.
What about SEO maintenance?
All your content should be properly tagged and new content should be tagged using current SEO best-practices. Working in conjunction with your analytics, we monitor your page traffic and analyze whether your search terms are still the most effective. We update as needed to keep your site at the top of Google’s search results pages.
Website maintenance is a necessary part of your online budgeting. Talk with your web agency or internal team to make sure you understand how your maintenance is being managed. If it’s not being managed or you would like a free review, contact us for more information.