When customers invest in a new website, there is a common mis-conception that it “should work flawlessly forever” unfortunately, it won’t!
Websites require regular maintenance, just like your computer does. If your home of office computer starts to get issues, then usually you apply updates to the operating system, restart it, update your anti-virus and software, and if its still not working correctly you might consider taking it to an IT specialist for help.
Similar principles apply to your website. At a code level, it will require a skilled professional to perform certain tasks to keep your website functioning correctly in a changing environment. Unless you are currently in a web maintenance agreement, a web professional will usually charge an hourly rate to provide professional support services.
Why do I need to maintain my website code?
A website that is not maintained will quickly become outdated on a code / software level, it can also have an effect on your visitors experience with broken links, slow page loading times, and dated content giving the impression of a business not paying attention to its customer experience.
Just like your computer, technology and the environment in which it works within are changing so quickly, which means your new website can become outdated quicker than you think. Without proper maintenance your website will slowly gain new problems over time. You may need to upgrade the website codework and/or database tables for bug fixes and security reasons.
The Internet is still a relatively new and open environment. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are trying to exploit and benefit from others misfortunes, and in the case of websites, Hackers are regularly trying their luck to gain data or benefit from exploiting websites on the net.
Unfortunately website owners are often aware of these issues but choose not consider regular website maintenance because “things are ticking along ok” and why spend money when we don’t have to.
Why do Websites break
Mostly, because the environment they reside within does not stay the same, its evolving every day!
Most modern websites, (especially those using databases and built on web Content Management Systems) contain thousands of lines of code and depend on specific software that runs on your web host. Depending on a system you use to power your website, the code contained within it may have been written by numerous developers at different times and with various skillsets.
Hackers, and other people with malicious intentions often discover vulnerabilities in code and will attempt to take advantage of this, trolling the Internet for sites that might be suitable candidates for an exploit.
You can prevent this by keeping your web hosting server’s software, and your website’s software updated with the latest patches and security releases. If you are using off-the-shelf Themes or Extensions for your site then these must have the same principle applied.
Prevention is better than cure
A website is a tool for you to inform and promote. It is an investment. With regular promotion and maintenance, your website shelf-life can be greatly increased over that of an un-kept site… therefore increasing the return on your investment!
Broken links, slow page loading times and other issues that occur from lack of web maintenance will all affect your visitors experience and their impression of your company.
On a security point, the fallout from a website getting hacked is huge. It’s often not just a case of re-instating your site from a Backup, as hackers may have left depository code in place to continue to manipulate your system for their benefits. Once a website Exploit has has taken place you will need to address how it happened (and fix any damage it has caused), and then often upgrade the website code (and any Themes, Extensions used in your site) to run the latest software versions so it is up to date and secure.
The costs of a hacked or broken website can heavily out-weight paying regular attention to your investment, extending it’s shelf-life and staying secure within the environment its operating.
If my website breaks, who’s fault is it?
It’s a good question with simple answers.
- It’s your web designers duty to provide you with a working, bug free and professional website product (including secure codework) upon delivery.
- It’s your web hosting companies duty to ensure the hosting environment is running updated software, applying security patches and taking regular backups of your website.
- And it’s your responsibility as a website owner to ensure your website is receiving regular attention and maintenance.
There you have it, a website is not a final product to be put somewhere and forgotten about. It should be treated as an evolving entity residing within a fast paced evolving environment. To be a successful investment, websites must get attention on a content and a technical level.