If your site doesn’t have a website maintenance plan, you should read this

A website maintenance plan is like a vehicle with a full service history

Can you imagine driving your car without having to service it ever – changing the oil, the air filter, from time to time the fuel filter and spark plugs? No, you can’t because sometime in the future, it will break down and leave you stranded. If your website is older than 2 years and 7 months without any website maintenance plan, you should read this.

The same goes for a website. It needs a website maintenance plan, either monthly (which is the highly recommended option), quarterly or yearly. You can’t expect a website from launch to last 10 years without any downtime, bugs or breaches. Technology doesn’t last forever, and we, including your website, need to adapt to these changes. 

Regular website maintenance

Many small businesses tend to ignore this because they see a website as a one-and-done project. Everything works fine, and there isn’t budget for unnecessary costs, right? Take our word, you’ll end up experiencing a huge surprise if you avoid a regular website maintenance plan, and not in a positive way…

Unfortunately, maintenance doesn’t have a tangible benefit that you can see, but it’s absolutely critical. Everything in all industries is being maintained. For example, iPhone – there are older mobile handsets that can’t receive the latest software updates because it’s not compatible anymore. There is new security, new code, and new features.

So do CMSs and servers (PHPs) also get outdated. Older versions aren’t available anymore due to at least one new version being released each year. Therefore regular maintenance is undoubtful a definite must. An old un-maintained website might reach a point where upgrading isn’t longer possible. Then you have two options: rebuilding the site completely or doing band-aid fixes to temporarily keep the site limping along. 

Therefore, being proactive and maintaining the site regularly will have a much smaller impact when the tech environment changes. For example, you want to get from point A to point D, but you can’t jump from point A to D; you’ll have to move through points B and C – incremental updates that hold much more benefits. 

Regular plugin maintenance

Some CMSs (Content Management Systems) also have plugins that need updates. Plugins are created for a specific scratch a person might have and are often abandoned. They’re not sustainable if not updated regularly or replaced with an alternative. 

The more plugins your website has, the more your website is at risk. As a website owner, you should know how many plugins your website has and what they are used for. Some are necessary and not all bad, but it’s good to know these things when your digital agency charges you a maintenance fee. 

If these things aren’t maintained, you’ll get to a point where your website can’t be updated and is stuck at the level of a rebuild. We know this is a difficult conversation because you’ll question the validity of everything, and relationships get affected, but diligence is key. 

Ensure you know which plugins are present, how much they cost, and what the renewal costs are, and take note that if there is a bug or glitch in the plugin, it’s not the digital agency’s accountability, but we are responsible for showing out red flags

Again, changing the tyres on your car or the breaks will ensure that your car works and doesn’t fall apart at that moment, but the future is uncertain – the environment might change. There will be breaking changes, but if you just leave it, some things will work and others won’t, and you’ll be left with a few options

Continual development

Plans change during every project as the requirements change for a higher ROI. These changes affect website changes. For example, a small business owner requires a CRM system which wasn’t part of the initial brief. Still, a website should enable a shift with the business and its requirements. 

If you have an online shop, it needs to be re-merchandised every two to three weeks to improve the users’ buying journey, which will affect the flow of your website. Perhaps not the whole page and every page, but these adoptions happen. 

Continual development – adding new features or options that weren’t available when the site launched – also happens with small businesses. There are additions of new products, info, pages and more suitable images. If a new service is added, it should get an enquiry form. A general question could be detected from the enquiry form, and later on, it gets added as a new form field. 

Landing pages that don’t get the hoped-for conversions need copy or image adjustments. Yes, the owner provides all the necessary info at the beginning, but no one will get it right the first time. The above are all continual development and usually form part of the agreed-upon maintenance plan.

We use tools to see how people interact with your website. With screen heat mapping, we can see where people are looking as they scroll and interact with the site – how they tap on links, click on images, and fill out forms. Don’t worry; data security is present. We can’t see details and passwords as the tool blurs this info out automatically

However, there are different audiences, and they use websites differently. For example, the not-so-tech-savvy users and those with disabilities. Users go through different phases of the buyer’s journey, especially on e-commerce sites. Hence, checking and testing everything regularly. Are forms working as they should, or are there irrelevant forms without interaction on the site? 

Test, test and test and update in small chunks rather than one big chunk that’ll cost you much more. You can’t renovate a house all in one go. You need to prioritise which bits are more important. Which room will you start with first? 

Have some form of maintenance to adapt your website to fit into an ever-changing environment.

Remember, don’t limp, leap!