Website Maintenance: It Sounds Inconsequential Until Something Bad Happens!

by Colin Kennedy - Jun 26, 2013

A scheduled monthly plan doing website maintenance can mitigate cyber attacks and improve performance.


A reliable web development company is an important aspect surrounding website maintenance and improvements.

© Neuron Global

Almost no one enjoys discussing the topic of Website Maintenance. This is due, in large part, to the fact that website maintenance suffers from a major image problem: the name is boring, the activities that make up a maintenance plan sound boring, and in general, site owners don’t see the value. But the truth about maintenance is that it’s your classic “important, but not urgent” kind of activity. A site owner can decline to maintain their site and everything will be fine…for a while…but they’re also opening their business up to a number of serious risks such as:

 

  • Cyber Intrusion – This is when an attacker exploits a vulnerability, allowing them to take control of all or part of a website. Such an attack could lead to compliance issues, compromised user accounts, and the loss of site functionality amongst other things.

 

  • Data Breach – When a site isn’t properly maintained it is easier for hackers to get a hold of private, sensitive information. Depending on the type of site/application you have, this could mean access to customer data or and/confidential company information.

 

  • User Abandonment – While this issue may not be quite as serious as the first two, site owners should take user abandonment very seriously. When a site is not rendering properly, because it isn’t compatible with the newest version of a particular browser, that is going to scare away visitors and will lead to a drop in qualified inquires, purchases, and so on.

 

If you want my opinion, development companies are largely to blame for the misperceptions surrounding website maintenance. Too often, maintenance is presented as a “nice-to-have” bucket of hours that clients can use to request changes and improvements to their site. And until recently, I’ve been guilty of doing just this. I’ve undersold the benefits of a quality maintenance plan, and I haven’t done a good enough job explaining the risks associated with an unmaintained site. But thanks to a series of eye-opening experiences and conversations, I now know better. With that in mind, here are a couple of important questions you should be asking yourself (and your web developer) when it comes to the ongoing upkeep of your website/application:

 

  1. How many “moving pieces” does your site have? The more widgets, custom-built modules, and 3rd party plug-ins your site has, the greater your need for proactive maintenance is. The functionality they offer is great, but the flip side is that you lose a degree of control when you integrate them into your site. There WILL come a day when these components stop “playing nice” with the rest of your site, creating security and user experience issues.

     
  2. What would a cyber-intrusion cost your business? If you have a simple 5 page website, the cost associated with a cyber-intrusion is relatively small. Sure, it would be embarrassing if a hacker was able to take control of your site, but it wouldn’t be nearly as damaging as a situation where customer credit card information was stolen, user profiles were compromised, or confidential information residing on the back-end of the site was accessed.

     
  3. How long can you afford to wait on a fix if a problem does arise? If you do not have a maintenance agreement with a professional web development company, you’re going to be behind the proverbial 8 ball if/when an issue does arise. You’ll need to spend time finding a company who can handle the issue. You’ll need to spend time negotiating an agreement. They’ll need to spend time identifying and fixing the problem – and if your chosen provider didn’t build the site in the first place, it could take them a significant amount of time to acclimate themselves to your site. Will you be ok with your site being down/compromised for an hour? A day? A week? A month?

 

If you don’t have an up-to-date maintenance agreement with a reliable development company, what I’ve just said might have made you a bit nervous – especially if the web is an important aspect of your overall business strategy. But I have good news for you! In most situations, maintenance is a relatively nominal expense. Even if your site is complex, it might not need more that 5 to 10 hours of proactive maintenance per month to keep it in tip-top shape. To me, it sounds like a no-brainer; it’s inexpensive enough to easily be incorporated into any monthly operating budget, while offering significant risk mitigation for your business.

 

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