“Do I really need a website care plan?” It’s an understandable question to ask. We know what you’re thinking: If the new website has been designed and coded well, it should sit there happily enough until it’s time to refresh it in some way, shouldn’t it?
Sound development principles will certainly give your website more protection, but few things are so black and white.
Here, we’ll look at the benefits of outsourcing website maintenance, the risks of not maintaining your site, when you can do it all yourself, and how to make sure you have the right level of support for your needs.
Why is website maintenance necessary?
Getting a new website built is a big investment of time and money and the purpose – whether it’s a portfolio website or an ecommerce site – is broadly the same: to convince people they’re making the right choice when they come to you.
Your shiny new website won’t, without regular care and attention though, remain shiny and new forever. Just like a car it will require regular maintenance to make sure it carries on running smoothly and securely and delivering results for your business.
If you’ve just spent thousands of pounds having your new website designed and developed though, you may be wondering why you need to keep spending money on it after the job is done.
Most companies choose to invest in regular website support and maintenance for two main reasons: business risk and business benefits.
The business benefits of a website care package
- You keep your virtual shop window in pristine condition. According to CEB research, 57% of people make a buying decision before even calling a supplier. A website that’s running at its best is more likely to attract a positive decision than prompt a negative.
- You can get on with what really matters, safe in the knowledge that your website is performing at its best and being continuously monitored for issues.
- Your initial website investment hasn’t been wasted; all the time and effort that went into its creation is paying off.
- You don’t need to spend time and money training an internal staff member in website security procedures and how to carry out backups and updates.
- You and your team aren’t interrupted by or concerned about security alerts and other updates. As an example, our own website received (and successfully repelled) more than 1,000 hack attacks in the last month. These hacking attempts were unsuccessful because we have advanced security systems in place to protect our site.
- You get insightful reports sent at regular intervals to guide future decisions. Reports like these help assess the success of your offline sales and marketing efforts too.
- You get access to priority support if anything happens which you don’t understand or can’t deal with in-house.
- It’s absolute peace of mind that you’ve reduced your exposure to risk.
But risk of what?
Reducing exposure to risk
Care and maintenance packages are sometimes described as being like insurance – there to pick up the pieces if anything goes wrong. So, what can go wrong with a new website?
Parts of your website could stop working
The different software tools used to build your website have been developed by different people. They are all continuously and independently being updated. Sometimes this makes them incompatible with each other. Some updates can be applied automatically, some need installing manually, and some tools are simply never updated to work with new versions of your content management system. Proper website maintenance protects you against the risk of parts or all of your website failing to work.
Your website could get hacked
“Why would anyone want to hack my website?” is probably your immediate response. The reality is that no site is too small to be of use to a hacker and there are even free tools to help hackers find vulnerable websites.
Typically, hackers do this to steal bandwidth, run phishing campaigns and send spam emails. If you have an e-commerce site, it may also be possible to access financial data.
Research from EnableSecurity reveals that 70% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to hacker attacks. The number one reason that websites become vulnerable is due to outdated software so scheduled website maintenance will reduce the risk that yours becomes one of them.
Your website going down could cost you short-term and long-term business
If your website goes down for any reason, there’s always the risk that your would-be customer looks to your competitors for help instead. That’s the short-term hit. The long-term hit comes when that competitor does a good job and that potential customer becomes loyal to them, where they might have been repeat business for you.
Elements on your website can break
If your website simply loses functionality (eg media failing to display properly, or your contact form not working), the loss could be just as severe. Your website is every new visitor’s first impression of your company. A poorly maintained or malfunctioning site looks amateurish; potential customers may think that if you don’t care about your company image, you won’t care about your quality of service either.
Can I carry out my website maintenance myself?
Managing your website yourself is certainly an option if you know what you’re doing, but it takes time and requires some specialist knowledge to keep your site up to date, optimised and secure.
If you can tick one or more of these statements then you may be able to maintain your website in-house.
- You have an in-house web designer/developer.
- You have an in-house IT person with some experience in content management systems – and the time to administer your site.
- You (or a colleague) have the time to take content management system training, and you also have room in your daily and weekly schedule to administer your site.
- You (or your technical staff) understand the importance of website security and how to reduce the risk of your website being hacked.
What does a website care plan include?
Typically, a website care or maintenance plan will include some or all of the following:
- Regular software updates.
- Regular security scans.
- Broken links checking.
- Uptime monitoring.
- Phone and email support.
Investing in the right level of website care reduces your risk, gives you peace of mind, and means you have access to an expert if ever an issue arises. Not every feature in a care package will be entirely necessary though and you should always make sure you have a level of care and support that’s appropriate for your business.
If you’d like to understand more about the value of a website care plan, or if you want a better understanding of any of the technical terms in this article, just get in touch and we’d be happy to help.