Launching a great website is one thing; keeping it up-to-date and evolving is another.
Any good business is constantly changing and adapting to fit current trends and stay up to date and your website is no different. As time passes, technologies evolve, new programming languages are introduced while others are deprecated, and new patches & updates come out for software all the time. Just like your car, websites require ongoing maintenance to keep them in tip-top shape.
This article is designed to help you understand what type of maintenance, security, and on-going costs you can expect after launching a new website.
A Quick Refresher: Anatomy Of A Website
Before we talk about what maintenance, backups, updates, and security are, we want to take a moment and explain just exactly a website really is.
In it’s simplest form, a website is just a collection of documents; more specifically, plain-text documents, which are even simpler than Microsoft Word documents. These documents contain different programming languages that, as a whole, make up your entire website. Just a few of the programming languages and assets your website might include are:
- CSS frameworks such as Bootstrap or Foundation
- Icon fonts
- jQuery plug-ins
- content management systems such as WordPress
- WordPress plugins
- Images, graphics, logos
and many, many more.
When you hire a designer/developer to build you a website, the code inside these documents are what has been built/written for you. They should be maintained and updated to keep up with changing programming languages and technologies. More importantly though, redundant copies should be made just in case something catastrophic ever happened.
Now that we know what a website is, let’s discuss the maintenance and on-going costs you can expect after launch.
After you build a website, you will want other people to see it, therefore you will need to publish (or upload) those documents to a web hosting service.
Web hosting services work by storing your website documents in high-powered computers (web servers) connected to a very fast network. When someone types in your web address (such as www.mywebsite.com), the internet connects to the web server holding your website documents and then transfers your website information back to their computer. From there they can surf and view the pages of your website.
Included with the description above, managing these servers, along with its software, support, bandwidth, speed, and so much more, is what I am providing when I refer to web hosting.
Scaleable web hosting plans offered by Lime Communications can be reviewed at https://itslimetime.ca/service/#hosting-plans. We will always start you off on the Light Duty plan and move upwards as your website grows and receives more traffic.
About 6 years ago, I logged into my Mac one morning unable to locate any of my photos, music and office documents. They were all gone! After going into panic mode, I searched and searched for them, thinking maybe they got moved or accidentally put in the trash. My resume, photos from family events and vacations I had been on, and gigabytes of music I had purchased or collected over the years were no where to be found.
After reading help forums for hours, and Googling every search query I could think of, I discovered that a problem had occurred to a sector of my hard drive that caused the data loss. To this day, I still don’t know what happened, but I never did get that data back. It was gone forever.
If I would have had a backup system in place, I could have recovered all of my lost data in a matter of minutes. This peace-of-mind is what we are offering.
Our backups are set to take continuous, periodic snapshots of your website, so that we have a copy to restore in case anything bad ever happens. We keep multiple redundant copies, in multiple off-site locations to ensure you data is safe.
Want to know more? Read our in-depth article about Backing Up Your Website.
Maintenance and security updates are part of almost all actively maintained software. As bad guys find new ways to exploit holes and bugs found in the software, updates and patches are released to fix these holes. Once a software platform releases an update, they are basically announcing to the the world how to hack their system, which is not a problem if you have been applying the updates, but could be very harmful if your software has not been updated.
Some software updates are released periodically (on a schedule) to introduce new features and functionality, while security updates are usually released immediately to address newly found bugs and exploits. Keeping your website up to date is one of the most efficient ways to keeping it safe and problem free (along with keeping a strong password).
Our update service ensures that all code running on your website, whether it be a CMS, programming language, plugins, themes, etc is always up to date running the most current, stable version possible to avoid any type of downtime, security exploit and lost revenue.
Want to know more? Read our in-depth article about Software Updates.
Security is one of the least understood aspects of having a website, but it really is one of the most important to consider. Just like everything good on the internet, there are people out there who want to wreck it for all of us. I am speaking about hackers and malware authors.
WordPress is the most popular blogging and CMS system on the Internet which makes it a favourite target for hackers. Having a WordPress site means that you have to take some extra efforts in order to protect you, and your visitors data. It is important to mention that these security measures don’t guarantee a 100% protection against hacking attempts, mostly because a 100% secure website doesn’t exist, but they will protect you against the majority of attacks.
There are three phases to security: protection, detection and restoration. If you truly want to protect your site, you should do all three.
- 1. Protection
First and foremost you need to lock down your site and keep it safe. You’ve got to raise the drawbridge, lower the gate, ignite the flammable moat and do whatever else you can to stop attacks before they start. This is the obvious first step and kind of hard to ignore: protect your site.
- 2. Detection
No matter how good your protection is, the bad guys might find a way to hurt your site. And you need to know when an attack is happening. The attack won’t always be a full frontal assault that makes it painfully obvious your site has been hacked. Sometimes they’re sneaky and bots will put a bunch of hidden code into your site. It’s no good to have all kinds of protection but then not know when some malicious virus found a weak spot and broke through. Malicious bots and hackers may have already infiltrated your site. You’ll never know without detection.
- 3. Recovery
Finally, you need a plan to get your site up and running again after it’s been knocked down. These things happen. The best protection and detection strategies can still be foiled and you need to be prepared. Why worry about the worst-case scenario when a little preparation will have you covered?
Lime Communications employs a number of tools, like malware and non-malware scanning for continuous and early-detection of potential incidents, a 34 point comprehensive security lockdown, and security & uptime monitoring.
Want to know more? Read our in-depth article about Website Security.
Why Website Maintenance Is Important
A big part of why maintenance is important is usability. Software developers often add new features and/or makes current features easier to use. The same goes for theme and plugin updates.
For your website visitors, this is important, because if your website is displaying incorrectly, or functions incorrectly, they may reflect the unpleasant visit to your site to their overall opinion of your business. Visitors (and search engines) want a website that functions correctly, displays correctly and loads in a quick time. What happens if your contact form or shopping cart suddenly stops working because an important update was missed? A missed lead or revenue for most of us would be upsetting.
Updating you website, the theme, and plugins on a regular basis will help prevent issues and the added cost of getting your site to function again.
Why is Website Maintenance Overlooked?
With websites, it’s not only important to keep your software version, theme and plugins updated, its essential in preventing major problems down the road and costly fixes.
There are two main reasons of why website maintenance is overlooked or ignored.
- It can be time consuming and many web-masters or business owners just don’t have the time or patience to update their website.
- A lot of website owners aren’t aware of the importance of the updates and the consequences of not updating their WordPress website.
Hopefully that has changed now that you’ve read to this point.
Can’t I Do Maintenance Myself?
Maintaining a website is more than clicking the “update” button. Attention and care needs to go into each update, no matter how small. Developers release a “change log” whenever a new version is released. It’s important to take the time to read the changes to see if you will have any compatibility issues. Trust me, it is very frustrating when you fail to read the change log and discover afterwards that you should have written down your previous settings, font style, size, etc. because with the new update, all of that would be lost and would need to be reset.
It’s also important to never assume. Don’t assume the update worked. You need to take the time to visually check your site and or features that the update involved.
We highly recommend these services for anyone that depends on a website as part of their business plan. I am a large advocate for backing up your data and performing regular software updates. We feel that not enough people understand the necessity of these tasks.
Our maintenance service includes the following benefits:
- 1 on-site (local) re-occurring backup kept on my private network
- 2 off-site re-occurring backups kept on a third party backup servers: one located in Vancouver and one in Oregon
- Regular updates to any deprecated functionality or features
- Regular updates to newly discovered security vulnerabilities to help keep your website safe
- Regular updates to any third party software, themes, plugins, etc
- General website maintenance (as required)
- Handling and storage of all website data
- Uptime monitoring
All types of maintenance plans can be renewed monthly, annually, or by a pre-determined block of time (such as 8 months or 5 years).
We want you to seriously consider this service for your website. Remembering my horror story from the past, I feel it is a great preventive action a business owner can take to protect their investment.