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Everything you need to know about website maintenance

The internet's ever-evolving nature means that without regular updates, in 3 year's time your website will be running on 3 year old technology. But it's simple to keep on top of things with a web maintenance package - here's everything you need to know.

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When you've spent time, effort and money on a brand new website or app, it's easy to think that everything is done.

You've got everything you wanted, it's looking fantastic and it's already started doing its job of getting you more and better customers.

But in truth. Your new web product is already out of date.

Frustratingly, the internet's ability to push new boundaries and continually improve, means that if you leave your website for any length of time, it's going to get out of date.

A lot of the time it might not be a big deal. But sometimes it can leave you with a serious security problem or a non-functional feature.

Not only that, the more you use your website, adding content, features and pages, the more likely it becomes bloated, slow or difficult to use.

Keeping your website up to date with regular maintenance is actually fairly straightforward. Most digital agencies offer packages that will keep your web product looking fab, working brilliantly and maybe even improving it into the future.

Website maintenance

In this guide, we'll look at:

What does web maintenance mean

What is website maintenance?

Website maintenance can cover a lot of different things but, in short, it's the essential upkeep that keeps your website and the platform or CMS it's running on up to date.

A quick website maintenance checklist would include:

  • CMS updates including:
    • Security patches
    • Updating plugins  
    • Fixing anything that might have stopped working as a result of the updates
  • Cross browser testing, to ensure the site is working in new and updated browsers
  • Device compatibility, to ensure the site is working for all supported devices, including new releases
  • Server-side updates including regular backups
  • Support, including help with using the CMS
  • Bug fixing - which can be very important for complex or functional web apps
  • A guaranteed response time to queries
  • Page speed updates - to ensure your website is loading quickly

  • Form tests - to make sure enquiries are coming through correctly

Website maintenance packages can even include additional services such as hosting costs, additional design or development and out of hours support.

Why does web maintenance matter?

Why does web maintenance matter?

Regular monthly website maintenance is what will keep your website up to date, safe to use and working brilliantly. A failure to do regular upkeep can leave your site vulnerable to hacks, bugs and browser incompatibility, not to mention that over time it will be running on out of date technology.

Regular updates can also alert you to issues much quicker. If you're not maintaining your website, you probably won't notice an issue until you come across it yourself, or hear about it from a user.

Proactive support is more likely to find and fix bugs before they start affecting your website or your customer experience.

The first and most significant reason to have a website maintenance and support service is for security. This is especially true if you are using an open source platform such as Wordpress. 

Because it's such a widely used platform with thousands upon thousands of themes and plugins, it's particularly vulnerable to security problems. Even their dedicated security plugins need regular updates to stay secure.

If you don't use an open source platform, it's still likely that your website uses one or many open source libraries, plugin or frameworks available, such as jQuery, Bootstrap or Foundation.

It's usually best that a developer completes those updates for you, as they can often have knock-on effects for the design or functionality of a site - particularly if your web product is bespoke.

Usability is another big concern, especially for more functional websites. If you have an ecommerce store, booking calendar or a web app, there's a high likelihood of small bugs, broken links and issues cropping up from time to time. It can have a knock-on effect on accessibility too.

If you host with your website maintenance provider, they will usually also provide server-side updates and backups of your site for protection

That means that if anything goes wrong with the server or the site itself, they will be able to restore a backup and keep things running as smoothly as possible.

A lot of website maintenance contracts also allow for additional work to help with your web product and business growth. This can be in the form of additional features or functionality on the site, improving your website conversion rate or even ongoing SEO and marketing services.

The last big reason that you should think carefully about getting a web maintenance service is priority. Clients who have an ongoing maintenance contract with their developers or digital agency, are going to have guaranteed turnaround times. That means their issues will be prioritised over clients who ask for changes on an ad-hoc basis. 

So if you have an urgent issue on your site, but don't have a service agreement in place, you're likely going to be at the back of the queue.

What web maintenance service?

What's included in a website maintenance package?

There are a few different levels of website support service available, and it's important to choose the right one for your business and website type. 

Ask yourself these questions to help you make the right decision:

  • Is my website business critical?
  • Can I wait until working hours for issues to be addressed?
  • Is my website on an open source platform like Wordpress?
  • Do I have a simple, information-based website?
  • Could issues on my website lose me money or customers?
  • Will I need regular additional design, development or marketing work on my site?

The answers can help you work out what sort of support you need.


Wordpress website maintenance packages

We always advise that anyone with a website that's built on an open-source platform like Wordpress gets a regular, Proactive support package.

A proactive wordpress website maintenance package will mean that your digital agency will do regular checks and updates - usually on a monthly basis. 

For websites on a bespoke CMS, this is great to keep on top of browser updates and device compatibility. But if you have a Wordpress website, or use another open source platform, this service is essential for keeping on top of system and plugin updates.

Many of these will be security patches, as open source platforms are a lot more vulnerable to hacks and attacks, so a proactive monthly website maintenance package service is a real necessity.

Bespoke website support and maintenance

If you have a small, simple website without a CMS (or built on a custom CMS) and you're happy to report issues as and when you find them, then a Reactive, or Pay As You Go, support contract might work for you.

This would mean that you don't have anyone regularly checking your site for updates or issues, and when you spot things that need fixing, you contact your website maintenance company and get a quote or estimate for the additional work.

If your website is a little more complex, for example if it's got ecommerce, booking or other functionality, you might need a bit more than just reactive support, and a proactive contract with regular updates is more likely to be suitable.

As well as regular maintenance for browser, CMS and device updates, you might also want your agency to set aside time to develop additional features, or provide design for new pages or updates.

This can be incredibly valuable if you have a more complex website or provide software as a service. It gives you the ability to adapt your features and functionality to improve the user experience, using your allocated design/development time. 

Business critical website mainteance plans

The highest level of website maintenance is the provision of full 24 hour support. This is for clients whose websites are business critical - by which we mean that any loss of availability or functionality on your website poses a critical risk to your business.

This level of support isn't required for the vast majority of websites but, for some, it's essential.

With other website maintenance services, queries and issues are dealt with during business hours. But if with total support, you'll have support out of hours too. 

For some businesses that just needs to be an extended working day, for example from 7am-10pm. For some clients that might need to be 24/7 availability.

For the vast majority of clients, a proactive, monthly website support package is the best approach - depending on what your website does for you.

How long should a website be down for maintenance?

If you have a regular web maintenance service, then you should expect minimal - or even zero - downtime while updates are being made.

However, if your website isn't being regularly looked after, when updates are suddenly required, they're likely to involve more work. The same way that if your car hasn't been serviced in 10 years, it's likely to need a lot of work when you finally take it in!

The best way to avoid downtime is to have a regular service, so you avoid big updates that could take more time and take longer to implement.

Web maintenance costs

Website maintenance costs

How much does it cost to maintain a website?  Well, that depends on the level of service you need, as well as the complexity of your website.

Remember, these are just average website maintenance costs at these different service levels. Some agencies will quote higher, some lower, and some won't provide them at all! But this should be a rough guideline for what you can expect to pay.

  • Reactive, or Pay as you Go updates
    This will be charged hourly, with prices that could range from £50 to £200 per hour.
  • Proactive Maintenance
    Usually somewhere between £100 and £1,000 per month, depending on the complexity of your website or system.
  • Business Critical Support
    This will often require staff to be available on call, so comes at a much higher cost. Expect quotes from £3,000 per month for extended hours, and £8,000 or more per month for 24/7 support.

How to choose a web maintenance company

Often the best choice for a web maintenance company will be the agency who built your website to start with. However, if they don't provide ongoing support, then you may need to look for another option.

A good website maintenance company will provide you with a full breakdown of the support they will provide for you, so you know what is covered and what is outside your contract.

They will also provide details of support hours, and approximate or maximum response times.

Essentially, your web maintenance company should give you all the details you need to be confident you've got the right level of support for your website, and that you know exactly what to do if you discover an issue.

We're firm believers that a web project doesn't end at launch day. If you're interested in having ongoing support and maintenance for your web app or website, read more about our website support services.

Get in touch

Got a question or need some help with your next web project? Our creative team is here to help, and we'd love to hear from you.

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Hannah Laird

Digital Marketing Manager