Why a Website Maintenance Plan is necessaryReading Time: 5 minutes
Owning a website is a commitment, requiring ongoing maintenance to keep everything properly updated and in good working order. Incredibly some might decide that this is not the case, after all why should it be truly necessary?
A website no doubt is a huge investment, for some the excuse might be to think that a maintenance plan is just a luxury expense, perhaps comparable to purchasing an extended car warranty package that will cover damage that may never happen.
With all honesty this is not the case, once a website has launched, this is just the beginning. There are a number potential tasks ahead, which include a combination of activities ranging from simple content updates to security precautions and software updates. As most websites will run on a content management system, an out-of-date website can be compromised by hackers, placing your customers and business at risk. For example, one of the most popular content management systems, WordPress has over 90,978 attacks happening each minute as stated by WordFence.
A good website maintenance plan will have a minimum of the following services, we cover a few areas that are of vital importance.
Website page, content, and link updates
The ultimate benefit with a maintenance plan is the fact that a website developer or designer will be on hand to assist with content and design updates when required. It ensures brand identity as a maintained website will avoid such issues as broken links, dead pages, and outdated information. In addition, an experienced web professional will assist with recommendations to improve marketing strategy and SEO awareness.
Server security maintenance and fixes
Unknown to many, unless you have a fully managed website hosting plan, your server will require a certain amount of attention. A website could go down because of a corrupted file due to an update, or for example a programming language version which may have reached end of life. All programming languages will generally need upgraded to the next version due to bugs, and security issues. For example, time4design discovered that many clients were running on dated PHP-versions allowed risk of malicious attacks to their websites. In fact at time of writing a whopping 28% of websites still run on PHP 5.6, the latest release being PHP 8.0. Every PHP version will eventually reach end of life, therefore will no longer see security updates. So, if you are already running on 7.4, you would need to update to PHP 8.0 by November 2022.
As of 2021, a whopping 28% of websites still run on PHP 5.6
Backup plans and recovery
Most website now are database driven, therefore securing and backup up your database daily and files ensures that if your website ever was breached, files can be reinstated to a previous point in time. Backup plans come in many shapes and forms. From a managed plan on your server, to a paid service that will backup files to a location of your choice such as Dropbox, there should be a plain tailored to the demand and scale of your website.
Site monitoring for downtime
Downtime can be result of an attack, server problem, CMS failure, DNS issues, or simply lapses in website maintenance. No website will have 100% uptime, so it is imperative that a sites reliability is monitored. A website monitoring service can help by notifying issues before resulting in complete downtime. Most plans will have you registered with a service with alert set so that the problem can be taken care of immediately and in a perfect scenario before you even realize there was an issue.
CMS, theme, and plugin updates
Probably one of the main causes of website issues, are outdated CMS platforms or for example Theme Plugins that require upgrading. Content Management Systems are updated frequently to push out new functionality and bug fixing for potential security holes. Outdated platforms as provided in a 2019 report illustrates vulnerabilities for attacks. However, another study found that plugins and themes had a greater vulnerability percentage. Anyone has the ability to create a theme or plugin, and publish it for download, particularly with open-source systems such as WordPress. There are no extensive code auditors, and not all code will be programmed meeting security standards. Website maintenance plans will cover these types of updates constantly and alert you should there be any planned down-time.
In 2019, over 56% of all CMS applications were out of date when hacks happened.
Bug fixes and compatibility/performance issues
In alignment with CMS theme and plugin updates, at times there will be what is known as conflicts. Essentially programming scripts that may have a conflict with another script that is functioning and ultimately causing your website to fail. A good maintenance plan will test all potential issues, should an issue occur, corrected on a staging server so that no downtime occurs.
Is there more to a website maintenance plan?
The act of common sense. A website maintenance plan will offer guidance and direction from an experienced website counselor. Although we have covered some main subject areas, there are many vulnerable areas that perhaps have not been included in this article yet may apply to your company/business website. Taking for granted, for example, the simple password to access a CMS could be just too common, allowing the potential threats of attacks. Believe it our not, as stated by Nordpass, during 2020 2,543,282 users have their password set at 123456. The time you took to read that password, was the same time a perpetrator used to hack.
An example of other practical services that should be part of most website maintenance plans are as follows:
- Domain and SSL Expiry
- Dedicated and virtual server administration
- Social Media Branding
- On-site SEO and Off-site SEO
- PCI compliance
- Virtual training and support
Unless your company have an internal IT department that include experienced website developers and designers, a maintenance plan might be the best option as an effort to keep a website correctly maintained.
A maintenance plan will no doubt have long term cost savings and save you time. A bug that is ignored eventually will snowball and cause significant damage and worst-case scenario; a website rebuild. Updated regularly, your website will have less of a chance of something going wrong.
If you would like to know more about time4design’s website maintenance plans, contact us for a custom quote. They are uniquely designed for your needs and requirements.
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