It’s easy to think of a website as a work of art, like a sculpture or painting. A designer conceives its layout, as well as its look and feel. A developer translates this design into a usable form. And then it goes live on the world wide web, where it sits comfortably, waiting to be found and shared.
But that may not actually be the best way to think about your site. Because, frankly, it’s not just some item that just hangs on the wall of a museum. Instead, it’s a living, breathing thing, subject to change. It’s active and alive and engaging with users as part of the digital ecosystem. It’s not just some passive object sitting by itself!
And even then, think about this: The paintings in museums may look like they’re just sitting there, but there’s actually a lot of work that goes into preserving and protecting them. From hiring security guards, to installing protective features, to regularly restoring or refurbishing a piece of work, art isn’t stagnant either. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes effort that goes into making sure that an amazing piece of art and sculpture is safe, and always ready to display for new guests.
Your website works the exact same way! Developing a brand website is not just a one-time, “set it and forget it” proposition. Even after a site goes live, it’s important to take steps to maintain it, so that it’s safe, functional, and always primed to help your business generate new leads.
But just why is ongoing website maintenance so vital - and what goes into an effective maintenance strategy? Let’s dive in!
The Critical Importance of Website Maintenance
Most of us have some kind of insurance, whether that means coverage for our business assets, or health insurance for ourselves and our family. Auto insurance is considered to be so critical that you’re not actually allowed to hit the roads without it!
While most of us would prefer to never have to be in an auto accident, or suffer a major health event, it’s reassuring to know that you have a level of protection in place, right? And when something does happen, your insurer can step in and help you avoid facing even tougher consequences.
Think of website maintenance as a sort of insurance for your site. For a fee, you can rest assured that you’re protected if something ever goes wrong. And as any seasoned web development vet will tell you - things do go wrong. Often, it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”
Whether you’re a growing, nationwide brand, or a small local business, your site may be affected by:
Cyberattacks, Data Breaches, and Other Intrusions
If you’ve been following the news at all over the past few years, then you’ve probably heard one or two internet horror stories that make your hair stand on edge. Maybe it’s a story of a hacking. Perhaps a data breach, or identity theft. Scams. Spoofing. Ransom.
There are all sorts of scary words we could share here. But the bottom line is this: The digital world is a place where more and more business gets done, every single day. But, as a result, it’s also a space where bad actors are always prowling, looking to make their move. When the dice is rolled and it’s your turn to face a shady character, or an unexpected breach, will your site be ready?
Did you know that, according to research, more than 70% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to a malicious attack? Or that a site that has been compromised by a security breach could be, essentially, blacklisted by Google, making it impossible for internet searchers to find your brand?
Having a team devoted to website maintenance can help you avoid these problems before they strike. With someone watching over your site and targeting spam, you can have greater peace of mind as a business owner, confident that there will always be someone keeping an eye out - and taking steps to stop malicious attacks before they can wreak havoc on not just your internet presence, but perhaps your entire brand.
Updates, Routine Backups, Load Time Issues
As we’ve already mentioned, the internet is an ecosystem that is always updating and changing - and your site can get caught up in these changes, often without you realizing it.
Software platforms, like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, are always updating and implementing changes could affect the performance of your website. Similarly, there are often plug-ins that have to be updated or changed, if you want your website’s core functionality to stay up to date.
In other cases, your site could go down to a routine error with a web host. For some sites, there may be issues with lagging page load times, or a broken form or plug-in. All of these errors can cause major frustration or anxiety for your site visitors - and may ultimately cause them to head over to a different, more responsive site altogether. In fact, did you know that:
- 40% of desktop users will abandon a page that takes three seconds or more to load?
- That more than half of all online shoppers say that quick load times are “important” to their site loyalty?
Keeping You - and Your Next Customers - Happy
Whatever the issue, whether it’s a targeted attack or the byproduct of the day-to-day steps of running a website, an interruption in service could cause huge problems for you and your customers.
If your site goes down, it could easily cost you business. In some cases, it’s even possible to lose the contents of your site altogether. Without someone backing up your site and/or database regularly, you could easily lose the fruits of all your hard work in the blink of an eye.
And what about all the little, day-to-day things, like:
- Making sure that your site is optimized for SEO
- Scanning for broken links or images
- Monitoring and approving comments on blog posts
- Tracking performance on mobile devices
- Keeping tabs on your most visited pages, tracking conversions, or creating regular analytics reports using a service like Google Webmaster Tools
As all business owners know, it takes a lot to keep an office humming, and doing its very best at all times. The same goes for your website. There are countless little things going on behind the scenes that could help you reach your next customer with just a few tweaks - or, conversely, which could spell disaster if anything should ever go wrong.
Paying a little bit now could help you avoid paying a lot more down the line. Emergency site work tends to cost significantly more than routine maintenance; time and effort during emergency service can quickly snowball out of control, especially if you’ve accidentally put off website maintenance for some time.
Health, longevity, functionality, security - routine, ongoing site maintenance can do remarkable things, and spare you from ever having to face your “worst case scenario” day.
What Goes Into Website Maintenance?
It is vital that your site be backed up regularly, with a plan in place to restore it to a prior version if something goes wrong. This is something geeks dramatically call “disaster recovery.” In addition, your site should be updated for software changes, and it should be monitored for “website uptime” - in essence, you want your webmaster to be aware if your site should go down for some reason, whether planned, accidental, or malicious.
For an example of what might go into ongoing website hosting and maintenance, here’s a snapshot of the core service plan that our firm, Geek Chicago, offers to clients:
- Monthly Software Updates
- Monthly Backups (these can be performed more frequently (weekly, bi-daily) depending on the service level agreement)
- Ongoing Spam prevention
- Ongoing Uptime Monitoring
- Quarterly Google Webmaster Tools Monitoring
- Comment Monitoring
- Ongoing SEO monitoring with regular audits
- Additional Website Security
Want to Talk Shop With the Geeks?
Bottom line? Investing in ongoing website maintenance may be one of the most important things you can do to protect your business’ digital presence from suffering a huge setback. It’s an easy, hands-off way to make sure that your site is always performing at its peak, while also saving you from having to spend more on an emergency fix somewhere down the line.
The dangers of an unprotected website are clear - and the benefits of bringing on a firm for maintenance could truly be enormous.
Want to get in touch? Curious about what a maintenance strategy customized for your business might look like? Interested in any other facet of web design or development - including SEO and content marketing? Drop us a line today to keep the conversation going!