So many businesses, both big and small, fall into the trap of designing and developing great looking websites, only to have these falter in performance along the way. Most times this is due to poor website maintenance, caused by either a lack of commitment, or human resources and internal knowledge. And then of course, there’s the perennial failure to commit sufficient finances to cover comprehensive maintenance costs.
WHAT IS WEBSITE MAINTENANCE?
Like many things in business life, a good quality website needs to be nurtured and constantly improved in order to remain competitive.
Website maintenance is the ongoing process of ensuring that a website is performing at its peak. It entails constant monitoring of the site’s health and performance, to ensure that it achieves objectives such as attracting, engaging, and retaining customers.
Maintenance includes a host of activities, designed to maximise the ongoing quality of content, speed, responsiveness and security of a website. This entails ongoing monitoring, checkups, and updates, aimed at maintaining the quality of the overall user experience.
The discipline of web maintenance requires highly skilled web designers like cliquedmedia.com, who provide professional web maintenance services. These experts will keep your site permanently competitive, secure and up to date, using the latest in internet technology and intelligence.
WHY IS WEBSITE MAINTENANCE IMPORTANT?
Website maintenance is important, because it effects the performance of what is the most important online touchpoint for your customers. Why design and develop a great looking website, only to have it alienate customers through poor performance?
Poor maintenance has the potential to negatively affect a number of important areas pertaining to a website. Consider the following issues affected by maintenance standards:
Customer experience – the overall on-site experience directly determines the amount of time that a visitor spends on a website, how he interacts while there and whether he converts and makes a purchase. Experience is determined by factors such as quality of content, seamless navigation, speed of downloading, and quality of links – all the result of ongoing maintenance.
Ease of search – what use is a site that never ends up on the Google search list of a prospective customer? Make a website hard to find and your customers will disappear fast. Maintaining a high level of search engine optimization (SEO), is a critical maintenance issue.
Cost Saving – problems tend to accumulate and compound when a website is left unattended. Keeping a website healthy, through ongoing maintenance, helps to prevent having to take drastic action further down the line, which can lead to downtime, lost customers, and greater cost to fix.
WHO DOES WEB MAINTENANCE?
Website maintenance can be very comprehensive and technical, depending on the nature of your website. Who undertakes maintenance, is largely dependent on the type and sophistication of your site.
If you are starting out with a very small business, you may want to maintain your own site, that’s if you have the time, patience and know-how.
As your business grows and your site becomes more sophisticated, you’ll want to make use of specialised freelancers, or ideally, a web maintenance company (the route that we recommend).
Finally, if a larger organisation, you may want to employee an in-house team, but this will require big resources, which can be very draining for any company.
WHAT DOES WEB MAINTENANCE ENTAIL?
There is no standard answer here. The list of activities conducted is variable, dependent on the sophistication and functionality of your website.
To give but one example, a web design and maintenance company like cliquedmedia.com can provide the following website maintenance services and many more, if so requested:
WordPress Updates – monthly updates to the core WordPress CMS and ensuring that these do not compromise the website aesthetics or functionality.
Website File Security – daily FTP scans, that screen all files and identify security loopholes and malware, that are fixed immediately before causing problems.
e Mail security – ensuring that you reach your customers, and are not caught up by spam filters.
Application security – scanning of all apps for known vulnerabilities exploited by hackers to attack your website.
File change security – using FTP scans and alerting you of any threat or changes to your files
Search engine blacklists – boost your organic rankings, by monitoring search engine blacklists, and ensuring that your site is not linked to malware sites
Backups – daily backups and storage of your website and database
Restoration – full restoration of your website or of individual files if so required.
A company like Cliqued Media will provide a full selection of website design and maintenance, designed to make your website perform as required, and to maintain its integrity on a continual basis.
WHEN SHOULD WEBSITE MAINTENANCE BEGIN?
Your website is the flagship of your business online, and it needs to perform consistently if you want to increase traffic, retain loyal customers, and achieve good sales conversion levels. With this in mind, the business of website maintenance starts as soon as the website is up and running.
Maintaining a high-quality website entails many tasks, that are too many to mention here. These must be performed at various stages along the way, starting with the day-to-day tasks of updating content and answering customer queries. Then there are tasks that should be performed weekly, monthly, and even annually.
Suffice to say, website maintenance is ongoing and should never be neglected. It can be a tedious affair, requiring specialist attention, investment in terms of resources and ongoing commitment from all concerned.
WHAT DOES WEBSITE MAINTENANCE COST?
Here there are horses for courses. If you are a small home business, with a self-designed website, then there are options available that will allow you to do simple updates. However, if you rely on your website for interacting regularly with clients, and for marketing your products in volume, then regular, more serious website maintenance, becomes a necessity.
When it comes to the cost of website maintenance, it’s a bit of a no-brainer. Allocating budget specifically for maintenance, should be a conscious decision, and one that is part of your overall website marketing strategy.
In fact, if you run a corporate or e commerce website, you should not even consider trying to cut down on maintenance costs. Rather think in terms of the cost of not investing in a reliable plan. Lost clients and declining volumes will soon far outweigh monthly maintenance costs if your site becomes an irritation to users.
Luckily, specialist website design agencies like cliquedmedia.com, offer bespoke maintenance packages, for clients who are serious about their online marketing initiatives. These packages are surprisingly affordable, when weighed against the benefits of achieving optimal website performance. Better customer service levels, increased sales volumes, and business growth are all areas that will benefit over time.
THE MAINTENANCE PAGE
Every website must be maintained and upgraded and there will be times when your page will be down for some length of time, due to maintenance issues. This may last for minutes, or even for many hours. Whatever the length of downtime, it directly affects the most important people of all, namely your customers.
While you may be aware of the temporary issue, your customers will not be. For most people, encountering a ‘404 error’ page when searching for something, can be extremely frustrating. People want attention and immediate gratification 24/7.
There is one way to reduce frustration and encourage people to return to your website at a later stage, and that is to develop a well design maintenance page. It’s the least you can do to let your customers know that the situation is temporary.
When you do this, there are some basic criteria to adhere to:
Keep it simple – let people know of the maintenance in a clear and simple manner, that leaves no room for guessing. Use different languages if you have international visitors to your site.
Keep it honest – use an honest and genuine message and apologise for inconveniencing people. Most will accept a genuine apology and return at a later stage.
Use the right tonality – it helps to use a tone that reflects the personality of the brand. This will make the message sound more genuine. Humor is a great option if your brand is not too sophisticated.
Reflect the brand image – if they recognise the look and feel of your maintenance page, people will feel at home and more relaxed. And they are more likely to return to the page later.
Provide a deadline – let your customers know when you’ll be back online and do not leave the issue open-ended. Try to give an accurate estimation of timing and update as required.
Give status updates – communication is always the key to keeping people happy so be sure provide regular updates, especially if downtime is going to extend.