I often am asked why organizations with WordPress websites need to update and maintain them on a monthly basis. To me, it’s like having air conditioning in Houston’s summer. You aren’t required to have air conditioning, but it sure makes your life easier and in some cases it’s life-changing. Proper WordPress maintenance will literally keep your website running optimally. Without it, tools break, the site’s navigation can become unusable and your business’ online presence will end up looking unprofessional and unreliable. Why wait until these things happen to your site to correct them?
Here are a few things to look for in an agreement with a team member or outside marketing agency that’ll maintain your WordPress website.
1. A back-up copy of your website must be made at least on a monthly basis, more frequently if your website publishes a lot of content. I recommend backing up your site and saving the copy with the date in the file name. Then, if something corrupts your website (another person pushes the automatic updates without testing them first or a security breach occurs), you can easily revert to a copy of the website prior to the issue occurring. The image below shows a common view of the backend of WordPress where updates can be made. Even WordPress recommends making a copy of your website before updating the site.
2. Having a copy of your website is also a good place to push WordPress updates (rather than on your live site) so that you can apply any needed fixes before the changes are viewable on your live website. WordPress issues big updates quarterly but security upgrades are released as needed. WordPress updates have been known to break plugins that add functionality to your website. (Common plugins include forms, calendar listings and social media feeds.) Proven web designers get to know plugin developers and their tendencies to keep their plugins updated as WordPress themes and versions evolve. This way, web developers can select plugins that are well maintained from the start. Otherwise, a plugin that is not well maintained could be paid for and used on your site initially, but not work properly down the road because its developer did not keep the plugin current. The result is that functionality on your website quits working or your website quits working entirely because a plugin that wasn’t properly maintained causes the site to not load at all. (Have you ever tried to submit information through a website but the submit button doesn’t work? An outdated plugin could have been the culprit.)
3. The open source nature of WordPress causes updates to be released at an ongoing, unscheduled frequency. There are always updates to do on a monthly basis and waiting to implement these changes can put your website, and thus your organization, at risk for security hacks. Updates to security, your website’s WordPress theme and plugins are just a few of the big things to monitor. When a WordPress site is not maintained regularly and gets hacked, it takes more time and more money to fix your hacked site, then it would to just keep it updated.
These are just a few reasons why we recommend conducting monthly WordPress maintenance on your website. These monthly tune-ups keep your website running successfully and your business image polished and professional. Check out some of the recent websites we’ve launched, many of which we maintain.
So the real questions are:
- How much are you willing to avoid spending each month only to spend that and more later when issues arise?
- What’s the real value of your website running properly?
- How many prospective customers and sales are you comfortable losing to save a monthly maintenance fee?