Not having a solid maintenance plan for your business website is like driving a car without insurance. You never know what's going to happen.
In this article article I'll explain why website maintenance is so important for any business that owns and manages their own website.
Expect to learn:
- 4 common reasons to have a website maintenance plan
- The best site for finding a WordPress website maintenance company
- 3 DIY maintenance tools
- What to spend
Let's get started!
As you probably know, a website is the online face of a business.
If your business website loads slow, or isn't working, it can mean lost visitors and lost revenue.
So how do you keep that from happening?
Regular website maintenance.
If you are like most business owners, you are busy and probably don't have any time for dealing with website problems.
And you shouldn't have to!
The average cost to maintain a website is actually pretty reasonable as long as you know what you are looking for.
and the good news is
there are a few different maintenance options at your fingertips.
Before we I go into options, let's talk about what can go wrong with a website and why the cost to maintain a website will be worth every penny you spend.
4 Reasons to have a Website Maintenance Plan
Let's start with expectations -
IF you own your own website (in other words - it isn't a Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, ZeroZen, or some other fully managed website) you WILL experience some sort of website problem that needs to be dealt with.
But not all website problems are created equal.
below are the top 4 website issues that pop up on a regular basis on self hosted websites.
1. Slow loading website
This is one of the most common website problems that can be solved by regular site maintenance.
A slow loading website can happen for a few different reasons but is most likely because of slow web hosting.
Shopping for the cheapest hosting on the market is a big risk.
Most website maintenance plans will require you to have your site hosted at a reputable company with a good track record. This will eliminate a lot of the headache from the start.
If it isn't a hosting issue, it can be any number of other technical issues that will take some time to figure out and fix. A good maintenance company should have it back up and running soon though.
Does your website load slow, average, or fast? Check your website speed
2. Out of date plugins & modules
Many website platforms use plugins or modules to easily add additional functionality. WordPress is a website platform that makes use of plugins to extend the site's capabilities.
As a matter of fact
WordPress alone has 56,000 free plugins to expand a WordPress site to do all kinds of things.
When updates to the WordPress platform are released, or the plugin developer has a new feature, a plugin update is available. Updating plugins isn't hard but it doesn't always go smoothly.
I've had my fair share of plugin update debacles happen and they aren't pretty.
A good website maintenance plan for WordPress should include these necessary updates.
But before you sign up...
Ask the company if they do backups before they push the update button.
This is really important. If something goes wrong they will easily be able to revert back to the saved version.
This is probably the most common problem that happens to millions of websites without the website owner ever knowing.
Malware comes in many forms and can do different levels of damage to your site and visitors computers.
Very simply, malware is a bit of code "injected" into your website by "evildoers". The code performs some sort of function that the site wasn't intended to do.
In other words, it uses your website as a host to do bad things to visitors or hijacks your site completely.
Now that's bad!
I found out about malware from a client very early on. He told me that when he visited his site from a phone, he got redirected to a porno site.
Needless to say, I was embarrassed that I had no answers for him. Another website developer told me that his site had malware and it had to be cleaned up.
the price to remove malware is worth the cost of website maintenance alone.
It can cost hundreds of dollars just to clean up a malware infected website.
4. Hacked website
A solid maintenance plan will resolve a hacked website quickly.
In most cases it is just better to load a saved version of a website than try to unhack a hacked website.
When a website is hacked, it is usually because the website wasn't secure. Easy passwords and out of date plugins are the two top reasons websites get hacked.
Once the website is restored, password changes and plugin updates are the first step to "hardening" your website from being hacked again.
How to Find the Best Maintenace Deal
When it comes to website maintenance, don't just look for the cheapest option.
You will probably be really unhappy!
Instead, take time to compare each package to see which one fits your unique needs the best.
At minimum, find a company with a great reputation that offers preventative maintenance and emergency support.
This would include things like plugin and theme updates for WordPress sites and 24/7 response for a website crash.
He took the time to list a bunch of great companies that do regular website maintenance as well as emergency support.
There are also a few other companies mentioned in the comments area below the article.
Doing Regular Website Maintenance Yourself
Depending on the website platform your site was built on, you might have the option to do preventative site maintenance yourself.
Keeping your site up to date is usually enough to keep your site healthy and avoid the bad stuff like Malware and Hacking.
If you have a WordPress website, here are 3 ways you can do website maintenance on your own:
- From the dashboard (free) - When you log in to the back-end, or dashboard of your WordPress site, look in the upper left of the screen beside the website title. If there are any updates available, you'll see a number. Click that number to show the plugins and themes that have plugins available. Check all the boxes and click Update from the drop down box at the top of the list.
- ManageWP - (free and offers paid add-ons) - I've used ManageWP for about 6 years. They make website maintenance easy, and about 2 years ago, they made basic site maintenance free! When you use ManageWP, you can perform tasks like updates, analytics, and performance checks from a single dashboard.
- WPMU DEV ($49/mo) - At ZeroZen we use WPMU DEV for maintenance and their collection of plugins available to paid members. The Dev Hub is essentially the same as ManageWP but I find it much easier to use. While it isn't free, you can add WPMU DEV's plugins to your site from the dashboard as well as view analytics and reports, fix issues and more.
What to Spend on Website Maintenance
As you can see above, there are a few different options when it comes to keeping a website safe and online.
You can hire a company for regular maintenance and support or you can do site maintenance yourself.
If you want the full-service maintenance option, expect to spend anywhere from $49 to $300 each month.
If the website designer that built your website has a maintenance plan, compare the offerings to the companies mentioned in this article first to find the best deal.
If you decide to DIY your website maintenance, remember - you'll still need support for any emergency issues that pop up. Most DIY services just make it easy to update plugins and themes or give great info on site usage.
Maintaining a website is important. If you are tech savvy and want to go at it on your own, use the resources above. If you want to leave it to the pros, expect to pay $50 or more each month to keep your website in top shape.
Having a website maintenance plan in place is a small price to pay to ensure your website stays online. Think about all the revenue you would lose during a website crash.
They do happen. Be prepared.