So you’ve had your website put together, and it looks great. Your friendly web designer guy did a good job, but that was a while ago now.
What do you do now?
If you’re like most small business owners, you tick that box as done and forget all about it. That’s not such a good idea though. Things change, and technology faster than anything else.
The content of your website will probably not be out of date for a long time. Particularly if it is mostly a ‘business card’ type website. That is, it’s there so you exist online, it tells people who you are and what you do. Plus gives you a proper professional email address.
That, however, is the least of your worries. Unless your website is incredibly basic and built using very minimal HTML, there’s a good chance it will need maintaining and updating. Here’s 5 reasons why – and if reading that scares you then it’s probably a good thing.
Now I’m not talking about redesigning your site to cope with new technology. That’s a given. If your website is 10 years old then it will probably look terrible on a mobile device, and Google will even penalise you for that. After all, they don’t want to show results to their customers that are unreasable and therefore not useful to them. So you need major updates from time to time to cope with these changes. That’s where your friendly web designer guy comes in useful again.
What I’m referring to is the ever changing code hiding behind your website.
Your website sits on a web server. Whether you know it or not, somebody looks after that web server and updates the software on it to keep it secure and working efficiently. They deliberately minimize the amount of changes they have to apply to limit the impact on you and their other customers. Sooner or later though, bigger changes are required and the code that runs your website will get updated. Quite likely that’s a software development language called php. These more major updates can break a website if it hasn’t been maintained in a long time. They try to minimize this by keeping this compatible for as long as possible.
It gets worse.
Most websites built in recent years are created using some form of content management system. WordPress is the most popular way to create websites these days. It allows you the owner to actually log in and change pages yourself, or create new blog posts. It’s a great system and piece of software.
The problem though is that this introduces a large amount of complexity. Your site also uses a database system to store the page content and all the settings used to display your site. The main WordPress code is updated every month or so. Thankfully critical security updates happen automatically. Other updates don’t. Then there is more code in the form of ‘plugins’ and ‘themes’. Plugins add extra features to your site such as adding a nice contact form or making your site work faster. Themes are the template that determines how your website will look. Updates will regularly appear for all these too.
So who is going to apply all of these updates – you can’t keep asking favors from your web guy.
If you’re not at all technically literate then this is best outsourced to somone who is. With plenty of services like mytechguy.co.nz or wpcurve.com available you can get WordPress sites or any other business type website maintained for you. At a price of course.
You can do this yourself if you have some technical knowledge, and if so I would recommend logging in at least once a month (preferably more often!) to check if there are any updates to be applied. There is a danger however that something will go awry. So if it matters to your business that your website could be down for a few days (or more!) while you find someone to fix it, then it’s best not to be doing these updates yourself. In other words, if a dead website will cost you money because that’s where your customers come from, then it’s worth paying someone to handle this for you. They can also take care of the other things you should be doing but probably aren’t, like backing up your website regularly and running security scans. Didn’t think security was a problem? Google blacklists around 20,000 new websites every single week (source) because malware has been installed on those sites!
It’s not hard to do the math on this. Just consider, how much is one customer worth to your business (lifetime value)? How many customers per day or week come in via your website? That’s the risk we’re talking about. If the answer is more than a few hundred dollars then you should seriously consider letting someone else manage the problem for you. Even for just one less headache to handle it’s a nice comfort to know that this is somebody elses problem.