A guide to website maintenance plans

by Tom Garfield

You’ve invested a decent chunk of cash into your brand new website, And now your web designer is asking for
MORE MONEY!? EVERY SINGLE MONTH?

To keep it “maintained,” he says.

Is this a scam?

I can explain…

What is a website maintenance plan?

Just like a car, or a house, or a body, or even a horse, you have to keep your website in good condition, up to date, free from bugs, and working well as time goes on. Website maintenance plans are made up of everything you need to give your site a home and an address, and keep the site working well, safe and secure.

What is included in a website maintenance plan?

Each plan is different, but broadly speaking here is a list of things that most maintenance plans will include as part of one fixed monthly fee.

Domain

Your website address is your domain – yourcompanyname.co.uk etc – These domains cost money and you have to renew them every year or so – in theory, it helps stop people from buying domains and never using them.

Usually domains are a nominal cost, but this cost and the admin of renewing your domain is usually included in a website maintenance plan.

Emails

Not all maintenance plans include emails, as they are quite different to websites really, but some do. Custom email addresses need to be configured and your mailboxes need space to hold mail – there are a bunch of technical requirements to set up properly, and so if you want emails using your own domain name, you’ll need likely need help.

Hosting

Website hosting is just the place your website files are stored. The images, code, text etc. They need to be kept somewhere. This is a physical place somewhere in the world called a server. Cheap hosting can mean a slow website, an insecure website and a nightmare customer service experience, so it’s worth spending a bit more than the cheapest option here. Remember, slow websites are bad for user experience and also terrible for Google ranking – Google doesn’t like promoting slow websites.

CMS updates

Like most web designers, I use WordPress to build my sites. This software platform releases regular updates that include additional features, bug fixes and security updates. Updating is fairly straightforward, but it is important to test your website when updating. Sometimes an update can break something on your site and it needs to be fixed.

Plugin updates

WordPress works with third-party providers of software that add additional features for websites. Things like SEO plugins, calculators, booking calendars – all sorts.

Just like WordPress itself, these plugins get updated regularly too. The combination of plugins and WordPress updates can sometimes cause incompatibility, so again it is important to make sure this is all working well and running smoothly.

If we find something isn’t working, we have to go through a process of finding out why and fixing it.

Lots of plugin updates include security fixes when bugs have been found – choosing not to update means you’re at risk of getting hacked or your site breaking somehow. Not recommended 🙂

Security & monitoring

There are some nefarious people out there, so your website also has to be kept secure and safe. We use a few different tools that monitor the site and protect it against harm, and notify us of any attempted hacks, or bots trying to do malicious things. Then we can take steps to fix anything or secure the site even more.

Seriously, you don’t want to get hacked, especially if your website contains data that’s protected by law – you could get into actual real trouble.

SSL certificates

You have probably seen web addresses that start with http:// and others that start with https:// – That extra s means the site has an SSL certificate. SSL certificates encrypt the data transferred between your website and it’s server, to prevent any breaches. It’s very important for both security, and Google ranking. I won’t go too deep into SSL here, but WPMUDEV has a more in-depth article about HTTPS and SSL if you’d like to read more.

Website backups

If you’re concerned with security, and with making sure your website doesn’t get permanently lost, you’ll want to make sure your website is regularly backed up. Just like the precious files on your computer, your website files are at risk of being lost too.

It might be because you’ve made an update to the content and realised it was wrong, or it might be because of a technical problem, but having a regular backup of your site is essential.

Tech support

All of my website maintenance plans come with some time for support. Questions, fixes, content tweaks things like that. It’s a good idea to have a pro on hand when you want to add new things to your website, especially if you are unfamiliar with the system and only want to make occasional updates.

How much does a maintenance plan cost?

Usually, it will depend on the size of your website, the type of hosting you need and the amount of support you require. I offer three maintenance plans to suit different businesses, and some larger sites need a more bespoke package put together.

If your website isn’t being maintained and you’d like to talk about how we might be able to help, feel free to get in touch.

Tom

About Tom Garfield

Tom Garfield is a Healthcare Marketing Specialist. He works with Doctors, Therapists, Clinics and Hospitals to generate more enquiries and appointments through their websites. He’s been improving website conversion rates since 2009 and has helped over 200 healthcare providers grow their businesses.