Why website maintenance is crucial to a successful website

Just like any software, websites require maintenance to keeping the site working properly and at its peak performance. Avoiding website maintenance is like not having regular oil changes on your vehicle. Your car still works but are you willing to risk the engine blowing up in the center lane of traffic during rush hour? The same concept is true for your website. Your website should always be live, ready for users, operating at peak performance and presenting your organization in the best light.

Websites Are Not a “Set and Forget”

The day your website goes live it’s functioning perfectly. It looks great, it loads fast, there are no broken links, Google loves you and users are impressed.

A website is not static, it ever changes. You add new content (text, links, images), software authors make changes, Google makes changes to its algorithm and on and on.

When visitors go to a website and find things wrong with it, they often don’t stick around. If you don’t have website maintenance done on a regular basis, you’ll never know if there are issues or if your site is positioned for a hacker to easily compromise it- until it is too late.

You are ultimately throwing money out the window in terms of lost business and future fixes necessary to bring your website back to life.

The Benefits of Maintenance

Many people don’t realize the benefits of website maintenance:

  • The website performance, it’s load time, downtime and uptime, is all dependent on the WordPress software and plugin functioning as they should (and on the recent version).
  • The website growth, it’s fresh content, analytics monitoring and design changes, is all dependent on you having someone making sure all updates to the website are done in a smooth and error-free fashion.

Maintenance Workflow

At Renovate Digital, we take great care to first backup the website, and check the website after applying software updates for any issues. Our software keeps a record of plugins we update so if there is ever an issue we see what plugin version was changed and revert back.

Our care plans also include monthly reports that show the performance and security scans activities and results. If in the event we ever catch a plugin issue, it becomes a support ticket and we address it before you ever know there’s a problem.

Sure, You Could Self Maintain your Website, but Should You?

Maintaining your site yourself could cost you more than you may think. If you just update from your WordPress admin, you wouldn’t have a record of what was done. If an update to a plugin created an issue a couple weeks later, it would be difficult to know what changed and how you should revert back without restoring a very old backup (and possibly losing content changes, donations, contact entries, you name it).

Here’s a typical scenario we see time and time again.

You notice there hasn’t been any new activity from your website in order a week. So, you open your browse and navigate to the site only to discover a blank page. You begin to take frantic steps to fix it but don’t know where to start. You decide to start by calling your host.

You: “My website is down”.

Host: “All looks good on our end, it’s not a host problem.”

You: “Well, where is the problem then?.”

Host: “It’s hard to say, but it’s not our problem. I see you are running WordPress. Perhaps you should log into your admin panel and see if there are errors.”

You try to log into your WordPress admin panel but the screen is blank. You can’t get in. You call back the host.

You: “It’s me again. I can’t access my WordPress admin, it’s blank.”

Host: “Try to FTP into the site.”

You: “What’s FTP and how do I do that?”

Host: “It’s a method of accessing your website files without the admin panel. You need software to do this, something like FileZilla. You’ll need  your server name, username and password for your ftp user.”

You: “What’s all that? Where do I find it?”

Host: “I’m sorry but I don’t have that information.”

You get the picture. This is just one of hundreds of possible scenarios. Your the lucky one because you have a host that will actually talk to you!

Let’s recap, you’ve spent the entire morning on the phone, ignored your business and have not yet identified the problem much less fixed it.

If you have the technical chops, the time to spend and nothing else pressing that requires your attention, self maintaining your website might be a good option.

It Costs More to Fix Than to Maintain

Inexperience and neglect can damage the look and functionality of your website. When that happens, you have a choice to make.

  1. You try and fix it yourself, in which case you may do further damage.
  2. You can then pay the (sometimes hefty) price for someone experienced to fix it.

Just like your car, it costs more to fix it than it does to maintain it properly. Regular oil changes help keep your car running properly, regular site maintenance helps keeps your web site running properly.

Call in a Professional

Why not spend your precious time working on tasks you are really good at like managing your organization? Let us deal with what we’re really good at – building and maintaining websites!

Would you try to fight that court battle without a lawyer? Then why try to maintain your own website if it’s not your expertise? By securing an experienced web professional to update and maintain your site properly you are actually saving potential lost donations, sales or visitors.

If you’re interested in learning more about Renovate Digital’s care plans, check them out here.

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We’d love to get your perspective on website maintenance. Do you use a professional to maintain your site? Why or why not?  Would you do it again? Does this option work for you? Please share your comments below.

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