Why outsource WordPress website maintenance?

While managing your WordPress website’s maintenance in-house is entirely feasible (after all, you can just pop auto-updates on can’t you?), there are distinct advantages outsourcing your WordPress maintenance tasks to a seasoned professional, so we are going to explore why you might do this and how you are an internal part of the process.

What we will cover

When we discuss maintenance we often hear, “It’s just clicking update, isn’t it? Can’t I just turn automatic updates on?” Well, yes and no, we will explain how to build a workflow later but first let’s unpack the risk of automatic updates or just clicking update.

Relying solely on automatic updates for your WordPress website may seem convenient, but it comes with risks and limitations. The first is compatibility, as automatic updates can sometimes clash with themes, plugins, or custom code, leading to site malfunctions. Although this can happen with any update, your hosting team can access the code and rollback the website to a previous version if they encounter any critical issues.

The second issue is timing, you don’t know when the update happened, so if it has broken something you also don’t know how long it’s been broken for, and when you discover it you won’t necessarily know how much impact it has had.

An example, your automatic update breaks your contact form, it alerts the user the message has been sent (so they just assume you are ignoring them), but you don’t get any new enquries for several weeks, so you look into it and discover the issue, the cost of this? A loss of lead generation and potential revenue.

Security is another consideration, a developer who keeps his ear to the ground will be keeping across the big risks and apply patches to sites as required, automatic updates don’t discriminate, they just update when they wish, so they may not always be timely or comprehensive enough to adequately protect your site from vulnerabilities.

Do I need to outsource my website maintenance then?

If you have a site with insignificant traffic then on balance you will probably be best served with automatic updates than ignoring them altogether, however, if your website plays a vital role in your business, ignoring it is a bit like perfecting the cod but forgetting to MOT the chip van.

With that in mind, here’s a few quick tips on how to do WordPress maintenance yourself…

How to enable automatic updates in WordPress

Okay really simple, head to the dashboard (top left, if you aren’t already there when you log in), then hit updates, you will see a link encouraging you to enable updates.

automatic updates in wordpress

 

This is just the WordPress Core (to understand your system see our handy guide), the other area we can set updates to auto is on our plugins screen, (on the left, about halfway down the menu). You can click to disable/enable updates on here too.

enable auto updates for plugins

Quick tip here, select them all with the check box in the top left and you can enable updates for all…

bulk update plugins

If you want a little more control, you can install the Easy Updates Manager plugin. This gives you options about what areas of the system receive updates. Just remember that every plugin you add adds weight and complexity to your website, so the payoff here will be at the expense of site speed and Google rankings.

How long do WordPress updates take?

For most sites, if you regularly update them they will only take a few minutes, if the website hasn’t done anything for several minutes after a click then there may be an issue. The time will will depend on your hosting, internet speed and the complexity of the update.

Major updates, such as version upgrades (e.g., from WordPress 5.9 to 6.0), may take longer. These updates often include more substantial changes to core files, database structures, or features. Depending on your website and the size of the update, major updates may take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour to complete.

It’s important to note that during the update process, your website may experience downtime or temporary disruptions in service, so pick a sensible time to do this as it will impact current site users.

Remember each innocent hit of a blue update button is downloading and installing different code to your website, and has every potential to cause a conflict, or on the other hand, it might just work perfectly.

At some point however, it is likely to go wrong…

What to do if your WordPress site is broken after an update?

If your WordPress website is completely inaccessible and you have a tech team behind you then get in touch with them, at the very least your hosting company will be able to roll it back to when it was working, you may have a small fee to pay and some disruption to your users whilst you wait.

Other than that, there can be 100 reasons and solutions, so Googling the error code will be your best friend when trying to fix it.

To avoid shutting the gate after the horse has bolted, there is a plugin called WP Rollback, which will help you rollback individual areas of the site if they are causing problems.

So now we have discussed how you might do it yourself, let’s explore why you might outsource your WordPress website maintenance.

Why outsource your WordPress website maintenance?

Outsourcing website maintenance offers expertise in WordPress intricacies, custom code handling, risk mitigation, and saves time and money by focusing on core activities and avoiding in-house expenses for upkeep.

Let’s unpack those…

Expertise

The first and foremost benefit lies in expertise. While you or your team may possess a basic understanding of WordPress, outsourcing to specialists means tapping into a wealth of development experience, we live in a world of updates, patches and rollbacks. We are intimately familiar with the intricacies of WordPress, including its various functionalities, plugins, and security protocols.

Custom code

Most of the time WordPress sites can be built with plugins so the maintenance is straightforward, if your website includes customisations or modifications, automatic updates may overwrite or conflict with them, requiring additional time and effort to restore or reapply them.

Mitigate risks

In the opening of this article, we have highlighted several areas that require expert analysis and help if it goes wrong, you get very little feedback when it does and you can be left with a white screen.

If you can handle the downtime you can have a go yourself, if you’re now at a point where this level of downtime is non-negotiable, then it might be time to consider a maintenance package with a professional.

Testing

Automatic updates bypass the testing phase, where developers typically ensure that new versions of WordPress, themes, and plugins work seamlessly together. This lack of testing increases the likelihood of unexpected issues arising. We don’t price our maintenance contracts on pressing the update button, we price them on the amount of functionality (likelihood for conflict) and the time it takes to test the updates afterwards.

Save time & Money

You guessed it, by delegating maintenance tasks, you can focus on core business activities without worrying about website upkeep. Having development resource in-house is an impractical expense just for maintenance, outsourcing can often be more cost-effective, as you only pay for the services you need when you need them.

What does website maintenance include?

Website maintenance is basically the regular installation of updates for the WordPress core, plugins, and themes. These updates often contain essential security patches, bug fixes, and new features that help safeguard your website from vulnerabilities and ensure optimal performance.

Without these updates, your website becomes more susceptible to security threats and may experience issues like malware infections or broken functionality.

Additionally, website maintenance encompasses measures beyond software updates that may enhance features, security or optimisation. This could include implementing firewalls, conducting scans, and performing audits or proactively identifying and addressing potential security risks.

It is quite common for outsourced WordPress website maintenance to be included within a retainer which may cover all of the above and other marketing-related tasks. Oh that brings me onto the term “support”…

What is website support and maintenance?

Website support is often referred to alongside maintenance, support may involve troubleshooting and resolving technical issues that arise, such as website errors, broken links, or performance slowdowns. By providing proactive maintenance and responsive support, website support services help ensure that your site remains secure, functional, and user-friendly, creating the most positive experience for your visitors.

Support can sometimes be assumed as part of your hosting package, the easiest way to differentiate between these, is to consider there are several elements to hosting and maintaining your website.

Hosting support & maintenance

Your hosting platform is a computer, most likely somewhere in the cloud (or in reality, a massive warehouse somewhere). This requires both physical and software maintenance, this is normally covered in your hosting fee.

You should have a minimum uptime commitment from your supplier and largely be unbothered by server updates as they are normally done in the middle of the night.

Website support & maintenance

The website is your application and your responsibility to keep it up to date. When it was built, the current codebase for the version it is now didn’t exist, much like upgrading our phones or cars we need to keep our websites up to date.

And not only that, WordPress websites are made up of lots of individually updatable modules, within them we have themes, plugins and other code that may be complex to update (see above).

Domain support

Outside of those two, your domain expiring can bring a fairly immediate end to your website if you forget to renew it. You can pay a fee to register and keep ownership of a domain and renew it every year, or you can pay an agency a small fee to do this for you. Other than the admin task of paying each year and maybe some small DNS changes (if you need to change emails for example) this shouldn’t require any maintenance.

What happens if I don’t do any WordPress website maintenance?

Ignoring WordPress website maintenance can cause big problems. The most important is security. If you don’t update WordPress, it’s like leaving your front door unlocked, updating keeps your website safe from security holes that pop up in the code.

If you don’t take care of your website it might start to creak, visual elements may break or it may start to run slowly. Users don’t want to visit a website that doesn’t work well, and search engines will lower your rankings.

The benefit of these updates is some free functionality, WordPress and the plugin developers are constantly improving their products so it is a benefit to make it a priority.

How much does website maintenance cost?

If you have decided to outsource WordPress website maintenance then costs can vary depending on factors like the size and complexity of your website, the frequency of updates, and the specific services needed.

According to research from Hostinger, the average cost is anywhere between $5-$5000/month (we couldn’t find any UK data), with small businesses spending between $35-$500.

We have you covered though, we’ve already written a whole article on how much website maintenance costs.

Your part in the update process

We mentioned earlier about treating this task with a little more priority and creating a process. Given that we have discovered it isn’t the updating that takes the time, but the testing, you can significantly cut your costs by working with an agency to tackle this together.

We have various clients who have outsourced their WordPress website maintenance that have set a recurring time with us to manage their updates, a specific day and time of every month is set aside for testing the recently applied updates and looking for errors.

For example, if you have an eCommerce site, 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.

Every business is unique so build yourself a tick list of things to run through and schedule a convenient regular update time.

Technical support

If you have an issue or are looking to outsource WordPress website maintenance, visit our dedicated maintenance package page.

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Wordpress website maintenance packages

Maintenance Agreements

We offer Wordpress website maintenance packages that can be set against an agreed budget. They are there to keep your website up-to-date, healthy and secure, checked over each month by a human.