Why do websites need maintenance?

In my earlier days of freelancing, many of my clients and prospects were against the idea of a website maintenance plan. The main reasons were that they didn’t think they needed to spend more, and didn’t believe their website was “big enough” to be compromised.

Why spend ongoing time and attention on maintaining a website? Does it mean it is unsafe to begin with?

Not necessarily.

Although I can understand where the fear might be. There are some who wish to scare you away from WordPress as a platform because it is prone to being hacked.

Honest truth – any website can get hacked.

And yet I still choose WordPress. Why? Because its benefits outweigh all the negatives. WordPress websites are especially good when you have a maintenance plan in place. Not only to keep intruders out, but to ensure that your website continues to stay future proof.

What’s involved in website maintenance?

Website maintenance should include a few things:

  • Updates to essential systems (core, theme and plugins) – To ensure your website is protected from hackers and malware. And that you are giving your users the best possible experience! Updates to plugins may help your website load faster, help with your SEO, or may make improvements to your editing tools.
  • Backups – In case of a rainy day, i.e. your web host goes bust or something else goes wrong. Don’t assume that just because you are a “tiny” business, someone won’t attempt to hack your website. Backups are also useful if you are DIY-ing with a visual website editor, and mess things up badly.
  • Uptime monitoring – Be kept in the loop if your website ever goes down, and when it comes back up.
  • Brute force protection – ‘Brute forcing’ is a kind of attack on your website where a bot or malicious user will repeatedly try different username and password combinations to break in to admin dashboard. You can prevent this by installing a brute force protection plugin such as WP Bruiser. (Make sure you set it up properly too!)
  • Performance monitoring – Keep on top of which pages are doing well, and what kind of search queries bring visitors to your website. This helps to “future proof” your website by being ready to adapt when your business requirements change. This kind of information is also useful if you are re-designing your website and want to get the best bang for your buck with rearranging content.
  • Content audits and updates – It’s important to ensure you get the most out of your website by keeping information up to date, and ensuring you don’t have any broken links. If the information on your website is not accurate for the times, it could affect your customers’ trust in you.
wordpress updates help your website to load faster
Software updates not only keep your website safe! They may also help your website load faster.

How often do I need website maintenance?

I recommend performing maintenance on your website monthly, at the very least. Depending on how often information is exchanged and stored on your website, you may want to look into a daily schedule.

A good website developer or consultant should be able to advise you as your business needs change.

How long does website maintenance take?

Some aspects of website maintenance are “set and forget”. For example, installing and configuring a brute force protection plugin will only need to be done once. You can also set your backup plugin to automatically run and save backup copies of your website.

Website backups should occur quietly, with minimal to no interruptions to a visitor’s access to the website.

If you are taking care of updates and backups yourself, you may want to allocate half an hour to an hour every month. This is to give you enough time to update your theme and plugins, and manually create a backup.

I would also recommend reviewing your maintenance plan at least every 3-6 months. This is just to ensure your backups are saving correctly and that the frequency of backups make sense for the amount of activity and information saved by your website.

Conclusion

Having a maintenance plan for your website just makes sense. Even if you’re just starting small and simple, there may come a time when you need to update information and features on your website. And being “small and simple” does not make you immune to hacking attempts either.

Over to you!

Do you have a maintenance plan in place for your website? Why? Or why not?

What would you like to learn about website maintenance?


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