In today’s fast-paced world of web, we only control a small part of what is happening online. There are constant updates and changes being made behind the scenes. Search engines, browsers, website platforms, payment gateways, and hidden algorithms all over the internet are constantly in flux, and we have to work hard to keep up. These changes affect everything online globally, including your individual websites. That is why it’s essential to stay up-to-date on technical website maintenance.
Here are a few techie examples:
- SSL is a hosting security item that is now a requirement for all payment gateways, and some website browsers, so that your website opens correctly. Without it, some browsers will only load a warning page that says the site is insecure. SSL needs to be paid for annually and if it expires, your site may not be visible to your customers.
- PHP is a programming language that drives functionality on most modern websites and is found in all WordPress sites. Global PHP is constantly updated, and website functionality will break if its PHP doesn’t match the current version.
- WordPress is also constantly evolving, which means any website built with a WP framework needs to update its CORE regularly to keep up with the latest programming.
- Themes and plugins that are connected to the site for its visual look and technical functionality require regular maintenance to keep up with all the changes happening on the web.
E-Commerce websites require a whole other level of care.
Online stores, or e-commerce sites, are more complex and vulnerable than informational websites. PayPal, for example, is used to pay for items in your online shop, but they are constantly updating their security to fight off hacking threats, and as they do that, the plugins on your website that connect to PayPal will need to be updated to stay compatible.
WooCommerce is the most widely used e-commerce plugin for WP websites, and it also is updated multiple times each year. Anytime that happens, if there are special plugins connected to WooCommerce, they need to be updated too. Just hitting the “update plugins button” is not always a good idea, sometimes updating one plugin before updating other parts of the website can result in a website crash. As just one piece of code that doesn’t match can break the website.
What about backups?
Backups are an important precautionary system to have in place. Unfortunately many websites do not have a regular backup system. Some servers say they offer backups, but then only back up one day at a time, and if the site’s been down for longer, it will be harder to restore the site. Before doing updates or major work on a website, it is always a good idea to save a backup copy.
If you try to update a plugin that is not compatible with your theme or the WP Core, it can result in the dreaded “White Screen of Death.” This status can be tricky to fix, as often you are unable to access the WP Dashboard to even deactivate the plugin that caused the problem in the first place. Most users are not comfortable working with the coded website files on the host server, so this means they have to call an IT company or a web developer, and while they wait for help, the website is down and they are losing business.
What does a Website Maintenance Plan do?
A website maintenance plan is like insurance for your website. It keeps your website healthy, provides regular updates, and troubleshoots of any problems that come up.
Updates, troubleshooting, backups, and more:
There are different companies offering maintenance, and the pricing varies, but they generally include the following values:
- Regularly scheduled maintenance on your site.
- Updates for theme, plugins, WP Core, PHP, and SSL to preserve the integrity of your website.
- Security, spam protection.
- Backups, staging copies, and downtime monitoring.
- Includes monthly reports of how your website is doing.
- Troubleshooting problems as they come up.
- To do this your maintenance team will need access to your hosting account.
What web maintenance does not usually include:
- Does not include adding new web pages or new functionality. To change/add to the website is not maintenance, it is new work.
- Does not include writing new content, like creating new blogs or information on the site.
- Nor does it include changes to existing content, like updating images and phone numbers.
- Does not include advertising services.
- Some companies will add create custom packages that include these website editing services to your maintenance plan for an additional fee.
Maintenance plans will require access to the WP Admin, host server, and domain of your website. Your techs need this to ensure your website has backups, can make staging sites, and just to access the website files themselves.
Website files are all stored on a host server, so we require access to keep your website working and backed up. We also need access to the domain – which is sometimes registered in a different place than the website file host. We can apply protection to the domain to help with moving the DNS or nameservers if needed. This is why you need to give access to your web maintenance techs, so they can ensure preventative systems are in place.
Making sure backups and staging copies are in place.
To keep your website working and functioning at its best, we strive to keep all the above problems in check with regular updates, backups, and staging environments in place.
When we are caring for your website, one of the first things we do is make sure backups are working and on a regular basis, so if your website crashes, we can quickly put it back to its state before it broke.
Additionally, we can create a staging copy of the website prior to rolling out major updates to ensure it all works, before making it live. Staging is a hidden copy of your website that is used with a temporary domain to view a fully functioning website. When a website needs a lot of updates, or major work, it is best practice to create a staging site to test and solve the problem behind the scenes instead of working directly on the live website.
If you opt out of enrolling in a website maintenance plan, you can still get help with your website, but will pay on an hourly basis. It also makes it harder for your techs to work on the website, as outdated websites require more time to troubleshoot. The site could be malfunctioning because it needs updates, but just running all the updates at once can also break the site. So they would need to try and access a backup, and likely need to create a staging site to fix the problem which takes more time and access.
If your website has crashed, you will need to find all your hosting credentials for your techs as quickly as possible, and sometimes those passwords are not easy to find. This can cause delays, as techs need access to troubleshoot website problems on the server and even might need to access your domain. Often it is an emergency for your company to have the website down, so it will cost more to fix due to RUSH charges.
If your website has not been maintained for a long time, there are usually several pieces that will need to be updated or fixed, your techs will need to take time to run a full analysis of the website and do trouble shooting to get it all back up to speed. This will take more time than simply addressing the problem itself.
If there is no backup at all, and you don’t have credentials to access your host server, it may be impossible to fully recover your website.
We now offer a fabulous WebCare Plan at Brand It Advertising!
Yes, we can help take care of your website. Website maintenance is a lot like health insurance or vehicle maintenance plans. It keeps your website healthy, provides regular checkups, and takes care of any problems that come up. We will stay on top of the latest online updates and changes that may impact your site. And when global changes occur, we will make the necessary changes to keep your website in shape and performing at its best. You’ve invested a lot of time and money into your website, and this helps protect your investment.