I want you to get the MOST out of your website.
My success comes when I deliver a project to a customer that gives them a return on investment. Essentially, I succeed when I help my customers succeed.
I also have some in-depth knowledge about what makes websites successful that many clients haven’t been exposed to yet.
I really want to change that.
A website can’t just be published and left to grow. Like anything else we want to see flourish, we need to give it time, attention, and effort in order to see it become all we hoped for.
Your website must be maintained. By you, by me, or by someone else, it just has to get done.
There are two main reasons your website must be maintained: Security & Software Updates. These things have some cross-over (and they don’t cover the continual improvement you want to make to the content of your site) but they are the foundations of keeping your website open for business.
Number 1: Security
The internet has completely changed our lives, and I cannot imagine a world without it now. But like anything in life- with the good comes the bad.
We’ve seen how hackers can disrupt financial markets, cripple businesses, and interfere with governments.
But it’s not just the “big fish” these troublemakers are after. Anyone who has a presence online is subject to hacking and viruses. Even a small business who runs a simple website.
Your website’s goal is to bring you prospects, customers, brand awareness, sales and overall a good return on investment. A vulnerable website is putting all that at risk.
Number 2: Functionality
The software that powers your website is being produced by programmers around the world, and technology is in a constant state of improvement.
It wasn’t long ago that websites were impossible to navigate on a cell phone (heck, it wasn’t long ago we didn’t have cell phones!). But all that has changed. And what is the standard today will be soon replaced with future technology.
A lot of these improvements are things that help customers find, navigate, and use your website. We’ve all been to a website that looks completely outdated, and that can be a direct reflection on the company.
If they aren’t keeping up with their website, are they keeping up with the times?
Will they be able to help me?
Those are NOT questions you want your visitors asking about your website.
Let's talk a bit more about security.
Why on earth would someone want to hack onto your site anyway?
There are actually many things hackers stand to gain from accessing your website.
It’s likely their first mode of operation would be to scrape any financial information in your database. This could be customer’s credit cards, your account numbers, passwords to your financial accounts, etc. These things can give the hackers instant access to cash- typically with complete anonymity.
But it’s not just money they are after. Once in your website, they can insert malicious scripts or code that work to infect the computers of anyone who visits your website. This can be a complete nightmare for you, and the angry customers that aren’t likely to come back and visit you.
Not sure it’s true? I wasn’t either when I first started… But the truth is, hackers don’t need to personally come find your website, they’ve build sophisticated bots that can crawl thousands of websites with the click of a button.
Here’s a screenshot from some of my security software of the last few day’s attacks on just ONE of the websites I manage.
There's also the "software-side" of your website, which needs to stay up-to-date.
The typical website we build has over $1,000 worth of software behind it. Those software costs are ongoing and typically billed yearly.
WordPress is an open-source platform. This means there are thousands of developers producing software on the network. All of them working independently of one another.
All the software must work in harmony together, and when they are all being updated and improved constantly, ensuring that they all play nice together is critical.
When a software update arrives, it’s important to understand what changes are being made and if they might have an impact on any other software on your website. There can be conflicts that can cause anything from small annoyances all the way to completely shutting your website down.
Blindly updating the software, or setting it update automatically is a recipe for disaster. But because of the security and functionality improvements the updates bring, it’s critical you keep them up to date.
A Website Care Plan can eliminate your headache entirely.
Instead of spending your days away from your actual duties as a business owner, agencies can take these tasks off your plate and handle them for you. Not only does this save you time, but it will save you the headache of troubleshooting, diagnosing and implementing fixes when things inevitability break.
Sure, you can change the oil in your vehicle, but by the time you buy all the supplies, get completely filthy, find a way to dispose of the oil, and in my case become extremely frustrated, you could have paid $29 at the Jiffy Lube and been on your way.
It’s this type of convenience that makes Care Plans a no-brainer for business owners.
What about software licenses?
In essence, a Care Plan is built to be a win-win for developers and business owners alike.
Business owners can save money and focus their time on their business, not worrying about the upkeep on their website.
Developers can keep their clients websites performing optimally (saving on support requests and reviving broken websites) and use their bulk licenses to make it affordable for themselves and clients.
Learn More About OGAL's Care Plans
The Interview: with Jeffery Patch.
For this topic I reached out to my good buddy from California, Jeffery Patch. Jeffery is the founder & lead geek at MaintainPress. His company focuses solely on website maintenance plans, so I knew he would really be able to give us some insight on why maintaining your website is so crucial.
JEFFERY PATCH - MaintainPress
I specialize in helping digital agencies and freelance professionals run more efficient agencies. As a solopreneur for over a decade, I’ve built countless WordPress websites for agencies, and have learned many valuable lessons over the years.
Now that I run a team, we focus on efficiency in our processes and in those that we do business with.
Q: Why does a website need ongoing, routine maintenance?
Oh boy, where do I start?!? In most ways, a website isn’t unlike your computer or smartphone. Chances are it’s running some sort of CMS which can, and likely will, become outdated at some point down the road. Much like your devices, the underlying software is recommended to be kept-up-to-date in order to keep things running optimally on the server, and also keep things nice and secure.
Q: What are the risks of leaving your website unattended for long periods of time?
While many, many people do simply leave their website unattended after launching, that is risky. The first, and probably most important reason, is security. Whether it’s for monetary gain or simply for fun, hackers are out there constantly seeking new security exploits and even running bots that scan 24/7 for vulnerable websites.
In a perfect world, you, or your website professional will be making improvements to the overall security of your website – think adding deadbolts and to your home. Then they will be setting up monitoring tools to scan for suspicious activity or malicious files – your security cameras and alarm system. Not only will they keep an eye on this, they’ll probably be backing up your entire website and keep a copy stored elsewhere in the case of total loss. Sorry, I don’t have a creative home-security analogy for that one! :)
Q: Do you need to update content and software, or is one more important than the other?
Content doesn’t play much of a role in my definition of maintenance, but you’ll never hear your SEO or marketing strategist say that! And as someone who respects his place in the world of online business, I’ll leave the content advice to the more creative folks.
In our business, are mainly concerned with the core software and general security procedures when it comes to WordPress maintenance. It’s typically the most technical part of running a website, and as a result, often neglected.
Q: We both use WordPress, is it a safe platform?
Somewhere around 30% of the website on the internet use WordPress these days. It’s relatively simple to use, extremely powerful in the right hands, and I believe, very secure. What does Peter Parker say though? “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Admittedly, I’ve been a Mac user for the last 15 years, but when I was on the fence about leaving the comfort of x86 processors and the familiarity of Microsoft Windows, the biggest issues at the time were viruses and malware. While most people turn the Mac vs. PC argument into something akin to a political debate, I knew that there was nothing inherently wrong with PCs, they were just vastly more popular and thus, easier to target.
Sadly, due to it’s increasing popularity, WordPress has suffered a little of the same stigma recently that PCs once did. WordPress is sometimes, unfairly, compared to DIY website platforms that don’t require maintenance plans because those platform aren’t built upon open-source code and used by the same number of people as WordPress.
The reality, based upon my total unscientific research, is that most website security exploits are the result of simple human error (plus being super unlucky). What I mean is that the vast majority of the security issues, malware infections, and related exploits were on sites that didn’t follow very basic security procedures.
Notice how I didn’t say “WordPress security exploits”? Believe it or not, we have been hired to fix security issues on SquareSpace, Weebly, and a few other random platforms that few people have heard of.
Free tip: don’t use “password” as your password.
Q: Can business owners maintain the site themselves? Why might this be risky?
Basic maintenance, such as running updates routinely isn’t the most difficult task in the world and can certainly be handled anybody with a decent level of comfort in tech. The risks come into play when something goes wrong.
Can the business owner, or their nephew the intern, troubleshoot a PHP error that surfaced randomly? Is that the best use of their time?
Do they know how to set up a SSL certificate? What happens when the one their web developer installed expired after the first year?
If you are a business owner and your answer to any of the above questions is “what?”, you might want to consider hiring a professional. :)
Q: Is it more cost-effective to be on a regular maintenance plan, or just pay when I need something?
Being on a maintenance plan is a bit like health or auto insurance. If your website gets sick, your professional or their team is going to come nurse it back to health. It’s probably covered under your monthly or annual retainer policy, and the problem was solved swiftly because they know your website, the tools that it uses, and how it operates.
It depends on your agreements with your developer, but you probably pay an easy, flat fee every month for this service and peace-of-mind. If you didn’t have this person and had to seek someone out to repair an issue? You might end up paying considerably just for their time just to diagnose the problem.
Perhaps more important than worrying about paying a few hundred bucks to a freelancer is your website’s uptime. What happens if a maintenance issue takes your website down for a couple of days. How much income could your business lose? For some businesses, it could be substantial!
Now that you have a better understanding, here's the action you need to take.
Like I mentioned before, someone needs to be taking care of your website. While it is possible to do this entirely yourself, many business owners find the convenience and time-savings worth the cost of a professional Website Care Plan from a reputable vendor.
- Take inventory of all the software on your website, and make sure you have the proper, and active licenses to be receiving all the updates.
- Assess your website for any potential security threats. Common things like simplistic passwords are easy targets for hackers. There are many security platforms that can help safeguard you against malicious attacks.
- If you feel uncomfortable, or realize you don’t have time to handle this on your own, reach out to Jeffery or myself and let us help you figure out exactly what kind of plan is best for your needs.
Learn More About OGAL's Care Plans
A BIG THANKS
I owe a big thank you to Jeffery for taking time to provide his insight. I knew he’d be able to bring a load of experience and expertise to this subject. Jeffery and I met online back in 2017 through the Beaver Builder community, and he’s been so gracious to help me out on many occasions. Be sure to go stop by his website and have a look at the maintenance plans he offers, which are particularly great for agencies handling multiple clients.
Having this network of experts is the key for OGAL Web Design being able to easily scale our team up in size and specialized expertise for projects of any size.
Learn More About MaintainPress' Care Plans
White Label WordPress Maintenance & Support For Agencies