Website maintenance contracts, are they a waste of money and how do you justify the spend if everything is going on behind the scenes.
I wanted to share why I believe it’s important to keep a website up to date and secure, to do this, I need to roughly explain what WordPress is and how it works.
WordPress is a website platform, it’s the heart of your website, very much like the poles in a tent or the chassis of a car. WordPress is written in a programming language (code) called php. Both WordPress and php are open source code solutions (open source means that you don’t pay a fee to use them).
Being open source means that WordPress and php are constantly developed by a team of enthusiastic experts to make them more efficient and feature rich. Because of this, the code and standards used frequently change, this change happens out of necessity. For example a change may be implemented to close a loop hole that hackers exploit, it could be that a certain code uses too many server resources and has been deprecated and replaced by a new smarter and more efficient way of doing things.
Once the code has been updated, it is then passed down to the users as a WordPress Core update or theme or plugin update, these updates then have to be installed on your website to keep it safe. There is no fixed schedule to when updates happen, they are identified, tested and then rolled out, very much like Apple updates iOS on their phones.
If left unchecked, updates will build up behind the scenes and leave your site vulnerable to attack. It could cause your website to stop displaying properly. This isn’t a scare tactic to squeeze money from you, I have seen many times where a WordPress website owner hasn’t applied updates and the site has been hacked, the usual result is the web page being diverted to a porn or gambling site completely damaging the domains reputation with search engines and causing embarrassment for the owner.
That’s why updates happen and why maintenance is essential to keep your website safe.
What to look out for in a maintenance provider
Admittedly, there are providers offering services to clients that are a waste of money, these are usually bundled into a new website build and you kinda get hooked into signing up for a minimum of 12-months and blah blah they don’t really do very much for the money and you feel disappointed. Admittedly this isn’t always the case, but this is where most website owners get stung.
A good maintenance service will show a list of provided services up front, describing what’s included and what isn’t and the type of communication provided.
Some of the basics that should be included in a maintenance contract.
- WordPress Core Updates
- WordPress Theme Updates
- WordPress Plug-in Updates
- Backup Service
- Security Installation
- Security Scan
- Malware Detection
- 24/7 Downtime Detection
Services are usually provided in price tiers based on the response time and regularity of security checking and backups.
A basic package will offer a monthly update, security sweep & backup service and for most WordPress website owners this is sufficient. If you have a more dynamic website, like an ecommerce store or systems critical sites, you would be better off on a weekly or even daily contract.
Check to see if any labour time is included in the contract, some offer a number of hours included to complete changes / backup restore / migration, usually to keep monthly costs low the service will bill out any extra development time taken.
It’s important to compare what services are included, how changes and updates are reported and what time is included in a maintenance support contract. If no support hours are included, find out what the hourly rate is and if you will be provided with a fixed rate estimate before any work is undertaken.
If you would like to learn more about WordPress Maintenance, please visit the WordPress Maintenance Page >