During development, a website is constantly cared for. It’s always got a pair of eyes watching over it… and usually a lot more! But what happens when that site finally goes live? Who’s making sure it’s doing OK? Who’s making sure it continues working as it should? Who’s making sure it’s still addressing the needs of your users? If your answer is ‘nobody’, you need to consider maintenance.
Maintenance is often thought of as an ‘extra’, but really it’s just another part of the development lifecycle. And even though it’s an aspect that’s often overlooked by businesses, it should be a part of every good digital strategy. Why? Because it’s what’s going to keep your website running optimally.
That’s a question I get asked a lot. And the truth is that only you can decide if a maintenance package is right for your business. What I can do, however, is share one of my own experiences with you.
I had a client approach me with a website that, on the surface, appeared to be doing great. While the site wasn’t particularly new, it still looked good, and the hosting company was doing an excellent job. However, a crucial ecommerce element on the site was failing to work, impacting the buyer journey.
As it turned out, the hosting provider had moved from PHP7 to PHP8, without the client’s knowledge. As the plugin that powered this critical ecommerce element wasn’t compatible with PHP8, it stopped working, leaving the website incapable of meeting the needs of the users.
Resolving the issue meant rebuilding large parts of the site as quickly as possible, to avoid the client losing out on any more sales. If a maintenance package had been in place, the problem could have been identified earlier, resulting in a quicker fix and a much lower impact on customer satisfaction.
Is maintenance mandatory? Of course not. Is maintenance one of the best choices you can make to ensure your site continues to perform as expected? Absolutely. And if you rely on your website for attracting, engaging and converting customers, then it’s a question that’s really not up for debate.
While you’ll often hear the terms ‘website maintenance’ or ‘software maintenance’, these are really umbrella terms covering a number of different types of services. There are four primary forms of software maintenance that businesses may want to consider. Here’s a little bit about them…
When building a website, big issues like missing translations are usually caught during normal development. But lots of little things – like rendering issues on less common browsers or screen resolutions – can often fall through the cracks. They might not get picked up until a user finds them. This is completely normal. And it’s exactly why we have corrective software maintenance. This type of maintenance fixes any bugs on your website that can affect the experience your users have.
Our approach: At Freestyle Internet, we strive to find hidden bugs in your website before your users do, helping you to maintain a great reputation and a high level of user satisfaction at all times. Our maintenance packages include a monthly scan of the entire site to check for irregularities. Customers signed up to our WordPress Care Plan will have their forms checked as standard.
You know how a car wears out because it moves over a static road? Well, it’s the other way around when it comes to websites. Websites wear out because the environment moves around them. Things are constantly changing in the digital world. New privacy regulations like GDPR change how we handle user data. New online standards like Core Web Vitals change how we develop and design. This type of maintenance makes any necessary adjustments based on environmental evolution.
Our approach: At Freestyle, we’re passionate about what we do, and we’re always keen to stay at the forefront of the industry. This allows us to anticipate upcoming changes, and make proactive adjustments to websites to ensure a smooth transition when new regulations and standards are introduced. In fact, this is my favourite form of website maintenance!
During development, we all strive for perfection. We all want our websites to be absolutely ideal. But the truth is that no one gets it 100% spot-on on their first try. Why? Because we can predict our user’s needs and anticipate their behaviours as much as we want… but we can never be completely sure how they’re going to use the site in real life. This type of maintenance adds new features, and removes unwanted or unused elements, so your site is exactly what your users need it to be.
Our approach: We work with our customers to identify common themes in user feedback, and make the right decisions at the right time. This may mean enabling new features that users feel they’ve been missing. It can also mean removing features that users find unhelpful. In removing unnecessary features and functionality, we ensure sites are running as fast as possible for Core Web Vitals.
With all the work that’s gone into developing and designing your website, you want it to stand the test of time, right? Of course you do. And that comes from making sure your site doesn’t deteriorate as it adapts and changes. This type of maintenance applies preventive measures, such as code optimisation and documentation updates. These are things that aren’t impacting site performance or user experience today, but could end up slowing your site down – or worse – in the near future.
Our approach: Preventive software maintenance is included as standard in our WordPress Care Plan, and ensures the code base is kept as up-to-date as possible. This not only helps your site to continue operating at peak efficiency, but also helps to secure your website, reducing the risk of a breach. At Freestyle Internet, we fully believe that taking proactive measures is the key to digital success.
Take a look at our WordPress Care Plans to learn more about the role of maintenance in eliminating downtime – while keeping your site performing well, running speedily, and satisfying Google. Our plans include a comprehensive range of maintenance activities, from updating WordPress plugins to optimising databases and backing up files. Not sure if maintenance is right for you? Give us a call to discuss your needs further. We’re here to help you make the best decisions for your digital estate.