The following is from our recently published eBook, Planning Your Next Website, of which you can download in its entirety for free by clicking here. As a website support company, we see the good, the bad, the ugly (and the really ugly). We hope to help organizations make the right hiring choices when it comes to having their next website built.
Now if you have been following our “Planning a Website” series that comes from our eBook (you know, like the millions who are? – NOT REALLY), you’ll realize these posts (and the book) are not about selling anything. That’s because we don’t do website design and development for direct clients. We do however have website development partnerships with agencies but that’s not important right now…
This is where things change a little and that is because we have gotten to our bread and butter: Website support, maintenance and hosting. So regardless of whether we sell these services the advice is sound and not too sale’zy. I promise.
Planning a New Website, Have You Thought About Hosting, Support and Maintenance
Have you thought about hosting, long-term support and maintenance for your new site?
Not all web hosting is the same. We often say at FatLab that if your monthly coffee habit at a local café is costing you more than your hosting every month, priorities are not aligning. Hosting can cost as little as a few bucks a month or cost hundreds of dollars per month and these setups are very different. From shared hosting to dedicated servers, CDNs, firewalls and backups; each and every service is different.
The hosting service you choose will affect the performance of your new website (though good development is just as important) which in turn can affect your SEO rankings. Downtime can be detrimental to a business that considers their website mission critical, or not such a big deal for less important sites. You need to decide how important good, reliable, and secure hosting is to you.
Many web developers/designers offer hosting services as part of their services. Make sure their offering matches the need of your website. Discuss uptime, after-hours response, CDNs, firewalls and backups. Make sure that their offering is in line with your needs. Do not assume all hosting is the same and don’t be afraid to host somewhere different than your developer/designer recommends if it doesn’t sound like it meets your needs.
Once you launch your new website you are not done. Websites are complex things and I hate to say it, but they will break, things will go wrong, and future work will need to be done. Budget for this. Every organization is different and some only need occasional support when something goes wrong, while others need a full-time resource to support website users, technical issues and to enhance the site over time.
Be sure to discuss long term support options with your developer. If your site was well built in a popular platform/language then you should have many support options available to you, from dedicated in-house resources to dedicated support teams like FatLab, to simply calling your developer on an as needed basis for an hourly fee. I have heard from many clients over the years that they were surprised by the amount of support their site requires and this kind of surprise can be devastating to cash-strapped organizations that did not plan on such an expense.
Of course, if you followed the advice in this document and hired a good developer or team to build your site, support will be more efficient and potentially less expensive than if your site was poorly built. There is a saying that I often refer to, as crass as it may seem: Shit in, shit out. Smooth, cost-effective support is very much dependent on having a quality product designed and built to begin with.
When we talk about website maintenance, we are typically talking about software updates. Most popular CMSs such as WordPress or Drupal and their associated plugins, modules and themes need to be regularly updated. Though some of these updates bring enhanced features and optimized services, the most important updates are security updates. The number one defense against a hack or malware injection is to keep your site updated. A site that has not been updated with the latest software versions is a site that has every known security vulnerability still present. If running a CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal – or really any CMS – it is extremely important that you plan to keep your new site up to date.
Recovering from a hack, malware injection or worse (exposure of personal identifiable information of members, clients or customers) can cost an organizations hundreds, if not millions of dollars. Sometimes the damage is not about money but reputation. Regular maintenance of your site is important. Be sure to decide whether you are planning on taking care of this internally or if you would be better off with a managed hosting service or support company that takes care of this regularly for you as part of an overall security plan.
Finally, The Advertisement
FatLab, LLC is a website support company specializing in the hosting, support and maintenance of WordPress websites. We provide secure and performance-based hosting as well as several maintenance and support plans.