If you're considering outsourcing the management of your website, you're likely asking yourself, what does website maintenance include?
This article outlines some of the basic requirements of an effective website maintenance or management agreement and some more advanced services that could be included.
First Off The Basics Of Website Management
The fundamental aspects of a website maintenance service will almost certainly include the following:
a. Updates: Regularly updating the software and tools used by the website to ensure they are current and secure. For example, if your site uses WordPress, it requires regular updates. If, however, your website is built using the HubSpot CMS, this won't be necessary because HubSpot CMS is a Software as a Service or SaaS system.
b. Security: Implementing and monitoring security measures to protect the website against unauthorised access, hacking, and other malicious activities. This is essential and will protect your website and customer data from bad actors.
c. Fixing Problems: Identifying and resolving any issues or bugs that affect the functionality or performance of the website. Bugs and issues can be time-consuming to find and fix without in-house expertise, so having a website maintenance contract in place will be worth its weight in gold.
d. Checking Speed: Monitoring and optimising the website's loading speed to ensure that it is accessible and user-friendly. Google has rowed back a little on its initial stance concerning website speed and search engine rankings. That said, providing visitors with a great user experience is always a good idea.
e. Backups: Regularly creating backups of the website's data and content so that it can be quickly restored in case of data loss or a critical error. If your website delivers business enquiries as it should, losing it will cost you thousands of pounds. A backup can have you "back up" and running quickly; see what we did there.
f. Content Changes: Making necessary changes to the website's content, such as updating text, images, and videos. This doesn't have to be part of a website maintenance contract, as most website systems use tools like Joomla CMS, WordPress CMS or HubSpot CMS. Many, many others are available. But suppose you haven't got any internal resources, also known as people, who can do this. In that case, it can be included in a website maintenance agreement.
g. Monitoring: Constantly checking the website's performance and functionality to ensure it operates effectively. Although there are tools that will automatically monitor your website for downtime, such as UpTimeRobot, they are not much help if you don't know what to do once you realise there's a problem.
h. Reports: Generating reports that provide insights into the website's performance, traffic, and other relevant statistics. These can all be automated using Google Analytics, but getting some help might be helpful initially.
i. Testing: Regularly test the website's features and functionality to ensure they work as intended. These days visitors are all too ready to tell you your website has a problem, but it's always better to discover and fix the issues before they do.
So far, we've outlined the essential tasks typically included in website maintenance to ensure that the site remains functional, secure, and efficient in serving its purpose.
Website Management Optional Extras
But website maintenance could also include other aspects of making your website deliver value. These more advanced services might consist of the following:
a. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Enhancing the website's structure and content to improve its ranking on search engine results pages. This is a big topic, so we've created dedicated pages that explain SEO.
It's enough to recognise that getting this right can be game-changing, and that's why some of the more advanced website management services, like ours, include SEO.
b. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO): Making changes to the website to increase the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, such as purchasing or signing up for a newsletter.
Again this is a big topic, but investing in conversion rate optimisation can deliver spectacular results because it's all about generating more business from the visitors you're already getting instead of the relentless pursuit of ever more website visitors.
c. A/B Testing: Comparing two or more versions of a web page or element to determine which performs better regarding user engagement or other metrics. Strictly speaking, this falls under the CRO banner, but it's probably worth singling out.
d. Custom Feature Development: Designing and integrating custom features or applications specific to the website's objectives or industry.
We always look for ready-made, tried, and tested solutions, but sometimes they don't exist. But, if you have a website management agreement with the right technically capable agency, they can also provide custom development. We do this for some of our customers.
e. Social Media Integration: Integrating and optimising the website's connection with social media platforms for sharing content and increasing engagement.
Although this is pretty straightforward, if your organisation doesn't have a dedicated resource to handle it, it can be included in a website maintenance package.
f. Advanced Security Measures: Implementing sophisticated security solutions, such as Web Application Firewalls, DDoS protection, and intrusion detection systems.
Some businesses attract the attention of bad actors; when that's the case, having a sysop who can deal with it is essential. But sysops are expensive to hire full-time, so they can form part of an agreement with a website management company.
g. Marketing Automation: Integrating and managing tools that automate marketing activities like email campaigns and customer relationship management.
We're HubSpot partners and use the software for our own marketing activities. A good website partner agency will be able to assist with setting up and operating marketing automation for you, saving you lots of time, and making sure you're making the most of all the valuable contacts you're holding in your CRM. Do you have a CRM? If not, they can help with that too.
h. Custom Reporting and Data Visualisation: Creating tailored reports with visualisations that provide in-depth analysis of website performance and user metrics.
Data is only helpful if you can understand what it's telling you. The thing is, creating reports that visualise data isn't everyone's cup of tea. If that's you, ask about including it in your website management service.
These advanced offerings are usually aimed at enhancing not just the functionality but also the effectiveness of a website in achieving its goals and serving its audience.
But there's more.
Some Of The Lesser Known Benefits
Answering the question, what does website maintenance include, is easy, and we've covered the essential elements above. However, another aspect of this is not as straightforward to explain, and is often not included in a website maintenance package. It's all about having an expert who's a safe pair of hands looking out for you and providing guidance and help.
Here are some of the less commonly discussed advantages of hiring an expert to manage your website:
a. Lower Stress Levels: Having an expert handle your website can alleviate stress and anxiety from dealing with technical or web-related problems.
b. Local Knowledge for International Expansion: If the expert you hire is from a different region or has experience with international markets, they might provide insights and optimisations for expanding your business or audience into new territories.
c. Networking Opportunities: Website experts often have a vast network within the industry. They can help make connections that can lead to partnerships, collaborations, or new opportunities for your business.
d. Diverse Perspectives and Creative Input: A web expert may bring a fresh perspective and creative ideas to your project that you might not have considered.
e. SEO Techniques: An expert might use less conventional SEO techniques to give your site an edge over competitors using the same common strategies.
f. Perks and Discounts: Experts often have relationships with vendors (such as hosting providers, plugin developers, etc.) and might be able to secure better deals or perks unavailable to the general public.
g. Human Element: Your clients or customers might appreciate knowing that a real expert handles their inquiries or issues instead of an automated system. This can build a sense of trust and loyalty.
h. Training For Internal Teams: An expert can provide training and knowledge transfer to your internal team members, making them more capable of managing minor issues or tasks.
j. An Insider View of Competitor Strategies: A web expert who has worked on different projects may provide insights on competitors' strategies without breaching confidentiality agreements.
k. Peace of Mind for Investors/Stakeholders: Investors or stakeholders may feel more confident in the project's potential success knowing that an expert is part of the team.
l. Reallocation of Creative Energies: With an expert handling the technicalities of the website, the business owner or creative team can focus on innovation and exploring new ideas for products, services, or content.
m. Contingency Planning: Apart from disaster recovery, experts can also help formulate contingency plans for different scenarios, such as sudden spikes in traffic, ensuring the site doesn't go down at critical moments.
In short, hiring a website maintenance company to look after your website is like having a whole new department of experts on tap when you need them at a fraction of the cost of building your own team.
Just like bringing in new staff members can invigorate your company, a full-service website maintenance service will add value in ways you hadn't previously considered.
Get The Website Management Scope In Writing
Finally, although a website maintenance contract can include a range of services, it's always worth establishing what is and isn't included at the start.
a. Clear Expectations: Clearly defining the project's scope ensures that the client and the service provider understand what is expected. This reduces the chances of misunderstandings and disputes later on.
b. Resource Allocation: By knowing what's included, the service provider can allocate the appropriate resources – time, personnel, or tools – to effectively address the requirements.
c. Cost Management: A well-defined scope helps in estimating the costs accurately. When both parties are clear on what is included, it reduces the likelihood of unexpected expenses, which can strain the budget and relationships.
d. Time Management: Establishing what's included allows more effective scheduling and time management. The service provider can prioritise tasks and promptly address critical components.
e. Quality Control: When the scope is defined, the service provider can focus on delivering quality within the agreed parameters. Conversely, trying to accommodate out-of-scope tasks can lead to compromises in quality.
f. Risk Management: Undefined or vaguely defined scopes can lead to scope creep, where the project's requirements change or increase. This can pose risks regarding budget overrun, delays, and unmet expectations.
g. Performance Metrics: Knowing what is included allows for setting specific performance metrics and goals. This helps measure the project's success and assess whether the maintenance efforts yield the desired results.
h. Legal and Contractual Clarity: Clearly outlining what's included and what's not protects both parties legally. In case of any disagreement or legal disputes, a well-defined scope in the contract can serve as a reference.
i. Communication Efficiency: When it's clear what's included in maintenance, communications are more efficient. There is less back-and-forth trying to clarify tasks, and both parties can communicate effectively knowing the project's boundaries.
j. Customer Satisfaction: Ultimately, clarity in what is and is omitted leads to higher customer satisfaction. The client feels that they received what they were promised, and the service provider can deliver without ambiguity or pressure to go beyond the scope.
Given these reasons, the service provider and the client must invest time in thoroughly discussing and documenting what is and isn't included in a website maintenance project before any agreements or work commences. This foundation is essential for the smooth execution and successful completion of the project, and it's why we don't offer off-the-shelf packages.
Hopefully, we've answered what website maintenance includes, and you're in a great place to find the right partner. If you are in the market, we'd love a chat.