We are in a digital age where so much of the business you do, and the success of your business can be attributed to your digital presence. Underpinning majority of businesses, is their website. Without a properly functioning website, your users or customers can form an impression of your operations, your reliabilty and ultimately the suitability for their needs. If your website is down, has crashed or worse, been hacked – the risk to your business credibility and reputation can be even higher.
At the most foundational level – all websites need to be maintained. It does not matter what platform you built it in (WordPress, Shopify, Wix, anywhere) to make sure that your website is achieving its purpose, web maintenance is essential. Website maintenance includes a series of tasks including monitoring web traffic, reviewing audit logs, updating security measurers, testing for potential threats, updating content, updating plugins, and generally ensuring that the website is secure and functioning properly.
Soto Group provide website maintenance for clients as an opt in after their website has been completed, however not everyone prioritises website maintenance or understands the risks. Given the rapid increase of data breaches and website hackers (if some of the biggest companies in Australia can be hacked, we are ALL at risk) the platforms and plugins that many website developers use to build websites, are being updated at unprecedented rates. This means that websites that have never been updated or maintained, are starting to crash or have reduced performance. We are seeing a much higher incidence of this in the last month, and predict this will continue to be a problem.
To help you understand a bit more about website maintenance, what is involved and how to do it yourself, we have compiled the information below:
What is website maintenance?
Website maintenance is the process of keeping a website up-to-date and running smoothly as well as performing optimally. Website maintenance can include tasks like checking all your site links are functional, rolling out major and minor updates at a platform and plugin level and testing for vulnerabilities and bugs. It also involves more general housekeeping tasks like backing up your site regularly and monitoring website performance. When regular maintenance occurs, websites are less likely to be hacked or crash.
Types of website maintenance
After your website is built, it’s really important to regularly perform web maintenance to prevent any potential technical issues, maintain a high level of security, make sure you safe guard and improve your users experience, and track your website SEO ranking. However, there are a few moving parts and for many people the thought of tinkering around in the back end of a website can be daunting. If you do not have someone to perform the maintenance for you, here are some of the elements you should be addressing:
Security patches are regularly released by web development companies like WordPress to address vulnerabilities in their development platforms and softwares. Patches are essential in keeping your site safe from hackers, so installing them as soon as they’re available is important. In an article we recently wrote, ‘has your website been hacked‘ we talked in detail about the security measures you can take to avoid being hacked.
Plugin and theme updates
Plugins and themes help to extend the functionality of your website. But like any software, they need to be kept up-to-date to ensure compatibility with the latest web browsers and security patches. Almost all WordPress websites use plugins and themes as a baseline, and the more functionality you have on your website, the more likely it is you have more than a few plugins to support that functionality. Regularly logging in and applying any security updates using your admin login is recommended. However, sometimes certain updates can clash and cause bugs with other plugins, so make sure you have a backup before rolling out any updates, and test your site thoroughly once you have completed the updates.
Backup and disaster recovery
Having a recent backup of your website is important in case something goes wrong. Disaster recovery planning helps ensure that you can quickly get your website back up and running in the event of a major problem. Some hosting providers automatically provide backups, but you would need to check in with them and the pckage you have signed up to. Ultimately, a backup helps to prevent data loss and ensures that you can restore your site if it’s ever hacked or corrupted.
Performance monitoring and optimisation
Monitoring your website’s performance can help you identify potential problems and take steps to keep your site running smoothly. Optimizing your website’s performance can help improve your site’s speed and responsiveness. It entails the tasks of improving web page loading times, optimizing image sizes, and minifying code.
Security scanning is important in web maintenance to ensure that the site is secure from any potential threats. Regularly scanning the website can identify and fix security vulnerabilities before they cause any damage. This helps to protect both the website and its users from potential harm.
Scanning the website also helps to improve the user experience. By identifying and fixing potential security vulnerabilities, users can be assured that their personal information is safe when using the website.
Admin Access / Website Access
If your website has users, you’ll need to manage their accounts. It you have one login, and you share this amongst your team – STOP. Immediately. Change the master account password, and issue everyone their own access with their own unique login. When looking into your users make sure they are regularly updating their passwords using secure and robust random passwords.
Uptime monitoring helps ensure that your website is available when people try to access it. The goal is to keep your website’s uptime as close to 100% as possible. Once your site goes down, you’ll want to know about it so you can take steps to get it back up and running.
Support and maintenance plans
The best way to ensure that your website is always up-to-date is to sign up for a support and maintenance plan. This type of plan usually includes all of the above services and can give you peace of mind. Whilst regular maintenance cannot prevent all potential risks, it certainly decreases them and let’s you know that if anything ever does happen, you have someone reliable and knowledgable that can quickly get your site back to working order.
Average costs of web maintenance services
The average cost of web maintenance and security services can range from $200 – $1,000 per month. Typically the cost varies based on the size and complexity of your website, the number of pages that need to be updated, the level of security required and the level of risk to your business. For example a business in financial services, collecting sensitive personal information through your site, has a much higher risk of breach or hack potential. You’d want to make sure you have the highest level of security on your site. (And understand if there are any government or industry body regulators that may fine you or even restrict you from doing business if a breach occurs). For smaller businesses and websites with less perceived risk you may opt for a less regular service.
While you could technically handle website maintenance on your own, it is often best to find an expert in web development to do it for you. Website maintenance can be time-consuming and technical, and it is easy to make mistakes that could end up costing you money in the long run.
Website owners should budget for web maintenance costs when they are planning their website development budget. By including web maintenance in your budget from the start, you can avoid any unexpected costs down the road.
While web maintenance costs can add up over time, they are generally a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your website is always up-to-date and running smoothly.
How often should you do website maintenance?
How often you need to do website maintenance depends on your website’s size and complexity and how often it is updated. Get into the habit of logging into your website once a month, and if you find that you’re confident with updating and running checks, this may be a good starting place. This will help to ensure that your website is always up-to-date and running smoothly.
Some of the tasks, such as uptime monitoring and security scanning, can be automated so that they are done on a regular basis. However, other tasks, such as website updates and performance monitoring, will need to be done manually.
Security, plugins, and theme updates can be set to auto updates on the content management system – however as mentioned earlier – auto updates without backups in place could crash your site with no way of recovering a current version of it. If you are considering turning on auto updates, we suggest you consult your web developer first to understand if your plugin stack presents any risk.
Creating and maintaining user accounts can be a time-consuming task, especially if your website has a large number of users. It is often best to hire a professional to handle this task for you. However, if you choose to do it yourself, make sure that you have a system for managing passwords and permissions.
While it is possible to do website maintenance on your own, it is worth reaching out to the person who developed your website to find out what they recommend and what packages they have that would suit your needs. As experts in this field, we know that web maintenance can be time-consuming, technical and understanding the latest updates and their implications is alot for a business owner to stay on top of. It is also easy to make mistakes that could end up costing you more money in the long run, than you would have paid if you outsourced to a trusted website partner.
More About Soto Group Creative Agency
Soto Group are an Australian Creative Agency specialising in branding, marketing, and website design and development. We work with clients all over the globe and help them navigate the often tricky website design and development landscape. Our ethos is to build relationships based on trust that leads to design projects and outcomes that are goal-specific and help our clients’ businesses grow and thrive. Hundreds of businesses trust us to build them brands and websites that can stand the test of time, and lead to more conversions, more sales and more work life balance.
If you are looking for advice from an expert Web Development team on getting the right website advice for you or finding out more about our services and how we help businesses excel, reach out to our friendly team for a no-obligation chat.