Website Maintenance and Why You Need It
Is your website maintenance plan adequate? WordPress, themes, and plugins are constantly revised by their respective developers to fix bugs; add new features; and refine usability. And that’s a good thing! But staying on top of these frequent updates isn’t enough. A good website maintenance plan also includes security hardening and monitoring; downtime monitoring; technical support; and more. Here’s why.
Symptoms of a Poorly Maintained Website
Many small businesses turn their attention to driving traffic to their new website immediately after it launches. Months later, the unexpected happens…
- A website visitor sees a malware warning; or
- Google redirects would-be visitors to a different (and spammy) website; or
- A hot prospect fills out a form and nobody is notified; or
- A visitor clicks to watch a video and it immediately downloads (instead of playing); or
- The home page is so slow that nobody waits for it to download (i.e., they bounce); or
- Somebody updates a plugin and the entire website goes down
These are just a handful of the many issues I’ve personally resolved for my clients— all of which could have been prevented, had they adopted a good website maintenance plan or hired a website maintenance services firm.
A Website Maintenance Services Firm Should Provide the Following:
- Security monitoring and hardening (to fight against hackers)
- WordPress Support (to diagnose and troubleshoot potential issues; handle emergencies; answer tough questions; etc.)
- Downtime monitoring (to immediately know when your website is offline)
- Daily backups (for fast disaster recovery)
- Frequent WordPress, theme, and plugin updates (for security and bug fixes)
Security Monitoring and Hardening
Until your website is monitored for suspicious activity, ignorance is bliss. But like it or not— WordPress is a target for hackers. That’s primarily because of WordPress’ gigantic market share, and the sheer quantity of poorly managed websites. That’s why a good website maintenance plan should fight against hackers.
One of the most popular points of entry for a hacker is via a vulnerable plugin. That’s another reason why frequent, proactive plugin updates are essential. You should also avoid using plugins that are no longer supported and/or have poor reviews. In fact, I prefer to use commercial (i.e., non-free) plugins whenever possible.
Brute Force Attacks
Beware of brute-force attacks. That’s when a hacker tries to guess your username and password to gain access to your WordPress dashboard. If you’re not monitoring for brute-force attacks, you’ll have no idea they are occurring— until you get hacked! That’s why monitoring is such an important part of your maintenance plan.
WordPress itself (referred to as WordPress Core) is also subject to vulnerabilities. That’s why WordPress security updates are issued at least several times a year.
Everybody needs support at some point.
Who will you contact if your website goes down? What if it becomes infected with malware? What will you do if it stops working properly? There are many reasons why you’ll need occasional help with your WordPress site.
If your website is not monitored 24/7 for downtime, you’ll have no idea when, how long, or how frequently it goes offline. Excessive downtime is one of the first indicators that it’s time to move to another hosting company.
Fresh backups insure against accidents and malice. They make it easier (i.e., faster and cheaper) to recover from a mistake; a buggy software update; or even a malware infection.
A proper backup plan should include both— your WordPress database and files, and they should not be stored in the same location as your website. Furthermore, your backups should be scanned for malware and perhaps most importantly— it should be quick and relatively easy to restore your website to a previously saved version. This is the foundation of website maintenance.
WordPress Core, Theme, and Plugin Updates
Obviously, a website maintenance service should include frequent WordPress core, theme, and/or plugin updates. But ironically, each update has the potential to cause your website to behave erratically— from minor glitches, to a completely downed website.
Therefore, we must:
- Update WordPress, themes, and/or plugins as needed— typically every 3 to 4 weeks, or sooner when a major security vulnerability has been found/fixed;
- Test the updates in a test (aka “staging”) environment first— not on your live site;
- Make backups before every update;
- Be prepared to immediately revert to a previous version of your website in the event something goes wrong
Putting It All Together
Proper website maintenance requires a considerable amount of time, effort, and technical knowledge. If you want to do this yourself, you must be proactive and be prepared to handle the unexpected.
If you do not have the technical expertise and/or your time is better spent doing something else, you’ll want to outsource to a website management services firm such as WPSimplifyd.
Why I Launched WPSimplifyd
Nearly a decade ago, I began designing and developing custom websites exclusively for the WordPress platform. Before long, I recognized an unfortunate trend. After I handed the websites over to my clients, I’d discover months or even years later, that updates and backups were not being made. Or in some cases, clients were updating plugins on a live site— with no backups, and no idea what to do if the site went down.
After helping a client with a hacked website, I realized security monitoring and hardening was just as important as plugin updates and backups. Indeed, all of these things need to be part of every website maintenance plan.
Save Time. Prevent Costly Mistakes.
WPSimplifyd is a WordPress maintenance and support service that fights hackers and malware; monitors for downtime; safely updates WordPress, themes, and plugins; and more.