Digital marketing has become a vital investment for businesses looking to survive the digital age – and a user-friendly web design provides a ton of value to the digital marketing professional that utilizes it correctly.
But here’s the thing: Avoiding website maintenance means that an exceptional revenue-generating marketing channel may cease to function as intended.
Yes, even if you’ve recently revamped your site.
But if you’ve experienced difficulties getting additional budget to spend on website maintenance, you might recall facing these obstacles:
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the role of website maintenance as part of a healthy website.
Because the truth is, deprecated programming language can cause significant delays and losses. And unfortunately, that’s just the beginning.
Let’s start by examining why website maintenance can be so tricky in the first place.
It’s not immediately visible, but…
It’s understandable that the importance of website maintenance falls to the backburner. Unless you can spot functional red flags, it’s difficult to see when something isn’t working correctly.
But here’s a thought:
Usually, site owners end up contacting a web design company when something inherently goes wrong. They notice a lag or the site goes down altogether. At this point, your bottom line may already be incurring losses.
It’s for this reason that we heavily advocate for the need to perform regular website maintenance.
Allowing someone to ‘get under the hood’ of your site gives you the chance to see if everything is operating as it should. After all, potential customers are going to judge everything you do, and how your site functions is no exception.
Make sure you are putting your best face forward! Budgeting for maintenance during a website design refresh is critical to your success, so be sure to talk about post-launch support with your web design company!
Website maintenance crushes problems before they can begin
Your website is the most valuable digital asset you can have. It’s a lead generation machine!
Just as you think you’ve done working on your site, maintenance tasks and updating content kick in. And as we’ve written previously, every decision you make that affects the look and feel of your website will affect its performance.
Moreover, maintenance is not the earmark of a poorly designed site. Even the most modern, user-friendly sites out there require upgrades, updates, and other maintenance items.
Regular website maintenance can actually put the kibosh on problems before they even have the chance to start.
For example, server-side PHP scripting language needs updating depending on the Content Management System you use. But most websites on shared hosting are running on PHP 5, when the latest language currently is PHP 7 (released December 2015).
If you’ve yet to update your language version, here’s what would have happened:
- Plugins and themes become incompatible
- Your site is exposed to hackers as older versions no longer receive security fixes
- You no longer have access to active support (ended on January 19, 2017 for PHP 5.6)
Basically, not updating something even as simple as the language version can result in a ton of problems. But with regular website maintenance, your website can continue running smoothly while preventing problems long before they even appear on-page.
What does website maintenance entail?
Now that you have a good understanding of why web maintenance is so important, let’s start examining what goes into website maintenance.
A crucial part of website maintenance is about the speed and uptime of your website – both of which are essential functions of attracting and keeping visitors on your website.
We’ve written about the importance of page speed previously, and it’s something that you cannot afford to ignore if you’re using your website to get sales or leads.
If your web design company also offers maintenance, make sure they’re able to provide suggestions to help your website perform better – be it through faster hosting, image and content size reductions, or other means of reducing your load time.
Next, you’ll also need to consider the “uptime of your website”. Are you confident that potential customers can access your website at any time?
What if you accidentally break something when refreshing or adding new content?
Plus, will you be able to predict when your hosting will have issues, or when you might undergo a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack?
Uptime monitoring should be a part of your web maintenance program because it gives you the assurance that there will be capable people on hand in the case of an emergency – and this allows for good business continuity.
Websites are entire systems in and of themselves. This concept is particularly true for digital marketing professionals who use Content Management Systems (CMS).
Platforms like WordPress and Drupal offer plug-ins and templates galore. However, this also means that there is potential for your add-ons to conflict with one another. If you’ve ever been on this side of the coin, you know how nerve-racking it can be to install a template and watch your site malfunction!
The truth is that it’s part balancing act and part technical skill to adequately address compatibility issues. A reliable developer can create custom code and plug-ins to ensure that your features work cohesively together at critical customer touchpoints.
Plus, a developer can also create a sandbox, or staging website to test the compatibility of your website before it goes live – especially during updates.
“A staging site is a clone of your live website. It enables you to test any changes or major new features that you plan to implement in a secure environment. Developers often use staging sites as a testing ground in order to prevent errors occurring on ‘live’ websites, thus avoiding the issues and/or downtime that might otherwise result.”Source: WP Engine
Using a staging website is something that we strongly recommend – it’s quite simply the best way to check if the changes or upgrades you’re implementing will cause issues with your website.
In fact, when clients engage us for web design and development projects, our User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is always performed on staging sites.
UAT is the final testing phase whereby our client determines whether a website can be accepted. And having the UAT on a staging site means that any errors or changes can still be addressed, without affecting the live version of a site (also known as the production site, which is the website that your users will see).
Likewise, using a staging site to to review any website updates or new features helps to prevent your production site from going down, if the event of incompatibility issues.
Most of our clients use WordPress as a CMS, and WordPress actually powers over 35% of the internet. The popularity of WordPress naturally attracts malicious hackers, who for instance, attempt to break into a site by guessing usernames and passwords.
Plus, with technology evolving at a rapid rate, it’s easy for hackers to find new opportunities to exploit code vulnerabilities. This is precisely why the WordPress community is always making changes and updates to its themes, plugins, and even the WordPress core.
Website maintenance therefore comes in handy to examine your website’s potential code vulnerabilities, and also to help you stay on top of new security alerts.
Backup and restoration
Finally, backing up and restoring your site is the icing on the cake when it comes to website maintenance. If you aren’t already conducting back-ups regularly, what would you do if your site suddenly went down and all data was lost?
Well, we don’t want you to have to think about that either.
It’s rare to lose all of the information on your site, but it does happen occasionally.
You might miss a payment with your hosting service, get hacked, or pay for the mistakes of a well-meaning web administrator.
Instead of leaving things to change, making backups of your website, is the best way to ensure the continuity of your website’s function.
Budget for website maintenance, get a peace of mind
If you’ve had trouble convincing your boss to set aside budget for maintenance, hopefully the points we’ve brought up will provide enough reasons for your case.
And if you’ve questions on web maintenance or need help with your website, please feel free to drop us a message. As a digital marketing agency with experience in web design and maintenance, we can help to keep your revenue-generating channel (aka website) in tip top shape.
Alright! Before we end off, here’s leaving you with some food for thought:
Thanks for reading. Over and out! 🙂