Why your small-business website needs a maintenance plan
Have you ever navigated to a website and found out that some things didn’t work very well? Maybe the appointment booking system didn’t seem to work quite right, or maybe the website looked horrible on your smart phone. Normally when this occurs, we often tend to leave the website and forget about it all together. We find another site and book an appointment with them or simply buy their products because their website “works”. This means the original website we view has lost a customer because of their website’s performance.
Your website is often the first impression that someone has of your business. When new visitors come to your site, they do not know about your great customer service or your personalized experience or how your products are the best on the market. In fact, if our website under-performs, they do not even care about your best traits. They simply find a website that works better and give their business to them.
A lot of small-business websites are “DIY” websites using a product like wix.com or squarespace.com. These products are great and can even be the solution your business is looking for, but they do have some cons. First, if you are running a small business, you are probably not an expert in websites. These platforms allow you to quickly learn and use their platform to launch a nice-looking website, but a “DIY” site requires a lot of time. Second, they do not offer expert advice on how to make your website perform better. For a small business owner, time is precious. Most of the time, the small-business owner does not have time to maintain their website after its launched. This causes things to get over looked and their website performance suffers. This is where a website maintenance plan can help you retain and gain new customers.
What is a website maintenance plan?
Like we mentioned above, you are probably not an expert in websites. So, let us start from the beginning. What is a website maintenance plan? In the simplest terms, it is just a plan that is executed to maintain your website. Okay that is easy enough said, but what exactly does that mean?
After a website is developed and launched, it resides on a server to ensure that it is reachable from the internet. This is often referred to as website hosting. A website also depends on things such as third-party software, coding frameworks, security, search engine optimization and many other things to function properly. Since the internet is always evolving, these frameworks, security standards, software and other things are always being updated. Think of how your smart-phone needs to be updated to the newest versions to ensure optimal performance and security. This is also needed for a website to perform optimally and stay secure on the web.
Another thing to consider is how well your website performs on different types of devices. Today, websites are accessed via smart-phones, desktops, tables, and possible other devices which all have different screen sizes and resolutions. Each year new mobile devices are launched and the website will need to look great on all of these devices. This means that the website will need to monitored and updated accordingly. Once again, this is more time that the small-business owner does not have and leads to even more negative experiences for website visitors.
A website maintenance plan offers the small-business owner a package that will include all of this monitoring and updating. This frees them up to focus on their own business and ensure it continues to grow. It also provides peace of mind knowing that website visitors are being given a great experience and first impression of their business.
Why is a website maintenance plan needed?
Let us dig a little deeper into why your website needs a maintenance plan. As mentioned above, the internet is always changing. If you are like most people, you find it difficult to keep up with all of the new technology that comes out every year. Even for professionals in the industry, web design and development is an ever learning profession. It takes a lot of time to stay up to date with the most recent standards and trends. This is time that a small-business owner normally does not have. Time is one of the biggest reasons to purchase a website maintenance plan, but below are some of them more technical reasons:
User Experience: Think of the user-experience as your online customer service. You would never want a customer to leave your store or a meeting with you unsatisfied. However, if your website is not up to date and performing well, that is exactly what your customers are feeling. They are unsatisfied with your business and plan to take it elsewhere. Having a website maintenance plan can allow an expert to monitor your user experience and make sure it is always up to the task of pleasing your customers. Remember, your website is your business’ first impression.
Security: Many things occur online and your website needs to make sure your customers are safe. Even if you are not taking online payments, your customer’s data can be exposed if your website is hacked. This is very bad and can even be very costly to a business. Ensuring your customers are safe when accessing your site is very important. Almost all hacks that occur on websites is due to outdated plug-ins or third-party software. As mentioned before, this can be difficult to update sometimes and requires some technical knowledge that you may not have. Let the professionals handle security so your business can be at ease.
Content: The content on your website should always be up to date. This once again takes time that you probably do not have. A website maintenance plan can include content updates to ensure your website accurately represents your business. Do you have some new images to add? Are you have a great promotion that your customers need to know about? Do you have a blog that needs new posts added? Paying someone to perform these tasks is often cheaper than the time lost doing them yourself.
Services offered in a website maintenance plan
When it comes to maintenance plans, almost all website development companies will offer different solutions and services. It is standard across the industry to offer similar products which include the following.
Routine Server Maintenance: Routine server maintenance is usually geared towards security. All security updates will be applied monthly. This includes things like plug-in updates and third-party software updated. This ensures your website is safe to use and is always performing well.
Emergencies: Emergencies happen in ever industry. For example, if something happens and your website goes down. What if you need an emergency content update? There are a lot of things that can qualify as an emergency, but knowing you are covered in these instances can offer great peace of mind.
Content Improvements: This would include adding new content or event improving your current content to get the best results. If your package includes Search Engine Optimization, performance will be monitored and improved upon to help with your rakings on search engines.
Reporting: Reporting can be vital to a small-business’ growth. Knowing how many users are accessing your website can be very informative. What if you could tell how these users were interacting? What is their favorite product? This is often referred to as website analytics and most companies offer this in one way or another.
The above mentioned is just to give you an idea of what is included in a website maintenance plan. These are not all encompassing and it is always best to talk with your agency see what they offer.
At the end of the day, a website maintenance plan can provide some great cost savings. It may not seem like it at first, but when you have an emergency development fees can add up quickly and cost a lot of money. So how can you pay for a website maintenance plan? Keep in mind that every agency is different, but here are some options that are usually offered.
Pay-as-you-go: Pay as you go options are always an option. This means that you will be paying for your agencies services as they are performed. Normally you will be paying for web services by the hour. This can really add up and is often the most expensive rate.
Retainer hours: This allows you to pay for a certain number of hours each month. A discount is normally provided when using this method. One thing to consider here is what is to happen if you have an emergency and you have already utilized your retained hours? How much will it cost hourly after your hours are utilized?
How we do it: We offer full-service websites only. This means that if we design and develop your website, a website maintenance plan will be provided. This allows us to provide the best service available and ensure our website continue to set the example. We offer 3 pricing plans for our websites which run from $40 to $100 based on your needs. This also offers our clients the best pricing in the industry.
I think it is safe to say that all small-businesses need to have a website. With more people accessing the internet every day, it is a vital resource that can help grow your business significantly. Although “DIY” options can work, they require a lot of work, time, and expertise that most business owners do not have. Whatever solution you decide to go with, make sure you have a website maintenance plan. This can be a plan you put together yourself, or a plan offered by a web agency. Having a website maintenance plan will guarantee the best user experience for your customers and ultimately lead to better revenue and growth in the future.