What we will cover
Having a maintenance plan could mean simply diarying a day every week to check for WordPress updates to your website software or it could mean taking out a ‘set and forget’ ongoing support package with Vu or a third party.
The important thing is that you put measures in place to keep your website secure and functional.
If you look around, you will find a lot of variation in website maintenance cost, as well as a lot of high-profile hacking incidents.
Before you can work out what’s reasonable, you will need to decide what you want your support package to look like, and what the worst case scenario is worth paying to protect.
Just the website hosting costs
The most basic level of website maintenance cost you are likely to come across is a hosting package. Unless you pay for your own third party hosting, chances are you agreed that your web developer would handle hosting for you – after all, your website has to live somewhere.
The word ‘hosting’ covers everything from a bit of shared disk space in a massive warehouse full of hundreds of machines, which might cost only a few pounds a month, up to a fully managed hosting service on a dedicated physical server (which could boil down to essentially a machine just for you). That kind of hosting setup could cost hundreds of pounds a month.
The main impact to consider where you place yourself on this sliding scale is performance (a slow website isn’t a useable one), security (if it’s cheap hosting then who are you sharing it with), and price, of course we would all like the best product or service but its often what fits our budget.
Some providers bundle their hosting up with goodies such as free security (SSL) certificates and regular backups while others rely on the customer to sort these out.
We host our customers’ websites on servers that include SSL certificates and are backed up hourly. They also run on renewable energy. For more information about that, visit our green hosting page.
Some providers talk about uptime, local servers or computer specs. It’s difficult to compare a small business WordPress application against these specs.
Our servers are local, monitored through a series of tools and varying levels of notification, and they only go down in the middle of the night for updates.
But often the real bit that’s missing is the help, what does support look like from a multi-national corporation compared to a small local business?
Website maintenance cost and getting support
Firstly if it is just hosting, the cheaper the setup the more trouble you may find, in the worst-case scenario you may just get an offshore ticket desk with a technical response aimed at a web developer.
The last thing a busy business owner needs to hear when their site is down is to update their PHP configuration.
Hosting packages which include a website maintenance cost or support element generally start from around £40.
When some hosting providers add ‘maintenance’ or ‘support’ to their WordPress packages, all they may be doing is clicking the ‘enable automatic updates’ button on the WordPress dashboard.
With no one in the pilot seat when those updates are activated, there is no way of taking control should something break. You might not even know something is broken until you get a call from an irate customer.
The likelihood of post-update problems increases with the complexity of your website so if you have an e-commerce store or a corporate site with lots of moving parts, you might need something a bit more robust than that.
After all, what would it cost you if your payment gateway stopped working for an hour – or a day? How many leads would you be missing out on if your subscriber form stopped interfacing with your mailing list for a week, a month, a year?
We can’t speak for anyone else, but when we talk maintenance packages, we make sure a human being (well, someone from Vu) is there to manually oversee the process and test the result.
They will anticipate any issues, check diligently for compatibility issues and resolve any hiccups or roll back where required and spin up a development site to debug (if we don’t have one already) – all in real time where feasible.
It doesn’t stop there, we aren’t just a ticket machine, if you need to discuss the status of your setup, upgrades or issues we are a friendly, available lot who like to explain using real-world metaphors what’s happening under the bonnet.
Your part in the update process
Although we will do everything we can to check everything is ticking along nicely post-update, there is a way you can make doubly sure.
Creating a new user and customer profile will enable you to place a dummy order, fill out a contact form, log in to your admin area and perform any other type of interaction that your admins and customers should be able to carry out via your website.
You can then flag us immediately if something is not quite right. Every business is unique so we can help you to build a tick list of things to run through and discuss and schedule a convenient regular update date and time.
A support package will also often include preferential timescales and rates for investigating and resolving urgent and non-urgent problems. You can take a look at the fine details of Vu’s technical support process on our maintenance package page.
You should now start to see why there is such variation of website maintenance cost out there. You really need to know the fine details of what is being offered before you can compare packages accurately.
Questions to ask include:
- Where is my website hosted?
- Is there a guaranteed uptime for my website?
- Will you manually or automatically apply updates?
- How quickly will you resolve my urgent or non-urgent issues?
- How do we contact you for support? How soon will you respond?
Our comprehensive maintenance package is competitively priced from £80 per month, this buys one human hour, often more than required to update and test every month.
However, if we don’t use our hour every month, this retained time can then be logged, built up and put against feature requests or marketing activities.
We find when our clients start to reap the security benefits of hands-off maintenance, then within a couple of months realise they can also be getting help with their digital marketing with their leftover budget, they see the value of working closely with an agency like Vu.
To find out more visit our dedicated maintenance package page.
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