Managing a website is more than just adding new content to site pages and handling any orders or membership signups. It’s also essential that you perform ongoing maintenance if you want the people who visit your website to continue having a great user experience. To understand just how important website maintenance is, think about what happens to your car if you don’t have it maintained. Eventually, the vehicle’s performance will worsen because you didn’t obtain the necessary oil changes. The same can happen with any website if it isn’t properly maintained.
The purpose of website maintenance is to make sure that a website is functioning correctly and is wholly up-to-date. The tasks that should be performed during routine maintenance include searching for issues, correcting any identified issues, and making the necessary updates. Likely the most important updates that should be made regularly are security updates. If your website’s security measures become outdated, it’s much more likely that a hacker will get into your website and steal important customer data, which would invariably erode your company’s reputation.
Before you start to maintain your website, it’s important to understand that maintenance isn’t a single action that takes a set amount of time to complete. There is a wide range of useful and important maintenance tasks that should be performed on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. An example of weekly maintenance involves checking your website for any 404 errors that need to be fixed. The annual tasks include everything from enhancing your website’s design to renewing your site’s domain name.
As for the costs of performing ongoing maintenance, your total costs depend on the amount of maintenance your complete every month. However, larger websites should perform more maintenance each month than smaller websites, which means that the costs tend to scale based on the size of the website in question.
For a small personal blog or portfolio website, you’ll likely spend anywhere from $5-$30 every month in maintenance costs related to web host services. On the other hand, maintenance costs for a customized eCommerce website can be anywhere from $300-$2,000 per month. These high costs are associated with having a staff of website developers available to perform ongoing maintenance. This article goes into detail about the importance of ongoing maintenance and the types of tasks that usually occur.
What is Included in Website Maintenance
There are many different types of tasks and tests that should be done if you want your website maintenance to be comprehensive enough to keep bugs and other issues at bay. While there is practically an endless number of different tests that you can perform for website maintenance, there are also some essential tasks that are necessary for practically every website.
For instance, you should test your entire website on an annual basis. These tests should be performed after you’ve updated your website. Make sure that every feature works before you check for any outdated or incorrect information in the articles or content that you’ve posted. It’s also recommended that you search for broken links in your content. Consider hiring a third-party developer to give you another perspective about your site’s usability.
You should also think about testing compatibility with different browsers. It’s important that your website is fully functional with several versions of each popular browser that customers can use. These browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.
Likely the most important type of quarterly maintenance involves testing the checkout process and website forms every three months. If you want to convert site visitors into return customers, the checkout process and any forms on your website should go through when the user clicks submit. Otherwise, you’re missing out on conversions that would have happened if it weren’t for your website is outdated.
If your website has accrued security features from a third-party provider or your web host, check for any security updates on a monthly basis. Along with making sure that hackers don’t get into your website, security updates also ensure that your website remains functional for anyone who visits.
You should also look into backing up your website on a regular basis. In the event that your website malfunctions for some reason, you don’t want to be in a situation where you lose essential site data. If your website is outfitted with an automatic backup feature, check to make sure that this feature is functioning properly on a monthly basis. If you don’t have access to an automatic backup feature, consider performing a manual backup once every month.
The final piece of maintenance that is considered essential involves reviewing your key metrics weekly. With Google Analytics and similar tools, you should look at your website’s analytics to determine how well your site is performing. When using Google Analytics, make sure that you look at key performance indicators, which will allow you to determine if you are currently meeting your primary site goals. If you aren’t, you should take steps to improve your website’s performance. Whether you work with a professional team of developers who perform maintenance or use an in-house team of developers, the aforementioned tasks are necessary for website maintenance regardless of the scale or type of website you have.
The Importance of Website Maintenance
There are many reasons why having a website maintenance plan in place is necessary if you want your website to continue being successful. For instance, the vast majority of customers perform research online. Nearly 87% of individuals will conduct online research before purchasing a product or service that they’re interested in. If these individuals enter your website and have a bad user experience, it’s much more likely that they will leave your site and start doing business with your competition.
Performing regular maintenance is critical if you want users to always have a great experience when navigating your website. Even if a site visitor doesn’t make a purchase or create a membership, a good experience will make them more likely to return to your website in the future, at which point they could finally make a purchase. However, once you lose a potential customer who’s had a bad experience with your website, it’s almost impossible to get them back.
If you don’t regularly maintain your website, broken links and slow load times are just a couple of the issues that users will likely notice. Instead of continuing to use your website, these individuals can take their business elsewhere and likely have a better experience in doing so. To understand just how important customer experience is, keep in mind that just under 90% of all businesses compete based primarily on customer experience. In 2010, this number was just 36%.
Maintaining your website can also bolster your search engine optimization and improve your search rankings. A functioning website isn’t important for customers alone. Google website crawlers will go through your site to determine what its ranking should be in search results. Once Google bots crawl through your website, they will report back to Google about the value of your entire website.
These bots analyze site errors, the website’s structure, and keyword optimization. If you don’t regularly update your website, issues will start to develop, which Google bots will use to determine that your website isn’t valuable. If this occurs, your site’s search rankings will invariably drop, which almost always worsens site visibility and reduces traffic.
As touched upon previously, no one likes to use a website that performs poorly and isn’t functioning as it should. If site visitors experience broken links and poor loading times, they will start to have a worse view of your business and brand, which means that not performing regular maintenance could damage your brand image. If you want your brand’s reputation to remain strong, maintenance is a must.
Another reason why website maintenance is important is that it can help you lower expenses. When you don’t maintain your website, costly issues will build up and worsen over time. Eventually, your website could start experiencing high amounts of downtime, which will cause you to lose some business. If numerous things go wrong at once, you could spend thousands of dollars on fixes. Routine maintenance will keep your website in good condition and free from errors.
Options for Web Maintenance
There are four distinct options available to you if you decide that web maintenance is a necessity for your business and brand. First, you could look into hiring an in-house maintenance and marketing team to handle all of your maintenance needs. This option can be expensive since you’ll be tasked with paying salaries and benefits for each team member.
If you would like to reduce your costs, you could hire several specialized freelancers who have the experience and knowledge needed to maintain your website. Though less expensive than the first option, good communication is necessary. Freelancers work alone and may not have a full grasp on the goals that your company has, which is why you should communicate to these individuals about the larger picture of your brand.
A third option open to you involves hiring a third-party company that specializes in web maintenance. This may be a wise option if you would like to keep costs manageable while also hiring developers who can understand your business goals. These companies will have all of the tools and resources that your website needs for maintenance, which extend to programming, strategy, and marketing services.
The fourth and final option to consider involves doing everything yourself when it comes to web maintenance. Unless you are an experienced web developer and are fine with spending an ample amount of your time performing maintenance work, it’s highly recommended that you avoid this option. If you ever make a mistake, you may be tasked with hiring a third-party company or freelancer to fix the problem, which is why the first three options are likely preferable.
No matter which option you use to perform ongoing maintenance, this maintenance reduces the likelihood that visitors will leave your website because it performs poorly or includes outdated content.