Over the weekend I received a frantic email from a prospective client asking for some help with a website emergency. It seems that her Word Press website was no longer available and was showing the dreaded message “Fatal Error”.
The website had been developed several years ago and apparently no one had ever updated Word Press itself, nor any of the plug ins that had been installed on the site. Not keeping your Word Press installation updated opens the site up to the potential for a security breach and conflicts with the plug ins. In this case, ignoring the need to monitor and update the site cost this business owner several stressful days and possible lost revenue.
Yet, when I suggest additional maintenance and support services to new clients, I frequently get the comment, “That’s too much money. Why would I need that anyway?” Well, no one likes to pay for insurance on their personal property, but you’re sure happy to have it when something bad happens. And, with all the wonderful benefits of a Word Press site, it is a constantly evolving platform. The benefit to this is that there are ongoing improvements to its usability and new features that can make your site even more powerful and effective. But, as Word Press evolves, the thousands of little specialized programs called plug ins may not keep pace. Ultimately a conflict can occur, when a old plug in doesn’t work under a new Word Press update or the site becomes so outdated that it is a target for hackers.
A properly maintained site means someone regularly checks your site, performs the process to deactivate all plug ins BEFORE the Word Press update, and then carefully reactivates the plug ins, one at a time, to test for any potential conflicts. They test the site and check for any “broken” links on your pages. And, most important of all, they install, schedule and monitor regular backups of both the database AND your content, so, if the worst happens, your site is back up within minutes instead of days.
So, when a web developer recommends a regular monthly maintenance program, please think carefully before saying “no”. Because a few dollars per month can save you thousands of dollars in repair or lost revenue in the future.