Now you’ve got your perfect website, you can just sit back and relax, right? Wrong!
In your home, it’s easy to see when things need maintaining: carpets get worn, paint becomes scruffy, appliances break down. With a website, things aren’t so obvious. To the untrained eye, everything can look up to date, while in the back end things are close to wearing out. If left unchecked, you risk glitches, malicious viruses and even hacking.
So, how do you need to do to keep your website in good condition? And how much does it cost? Let’s find out.
What’s on this page?
You know when your phone notifies you that a software update is available? You ignore it, naturally, but before long things start slowing down, or stop working altogether. Even worse, none of the new emojis display properly! Finally you upgrade and it’s so easy you vow to do it straight away the next time.
The same is true of the framework your website is built on - WordPress, for example. It’s up to you to make sure you have the most up-to-date version possible so that your website can perform at its best. Plus, by not updating your website you risk getting hacked.
How often do you need to update? That depends on the framework you use. WordPress release new versions as often as every couple of months.
Plugins and extensions
Carrying on with the smartphone analogy, if the web framework is the phone itself then the plugins and extensions are like your apps. And just like apps, they also need updating when a new version comes out.
Plugins and extensions are the building blocks of your website. It pays to keep them at their best.
This is the desk of someone who updates their apps, plugins and extensions straight away
Hosting, domain name and SSL certificate
Your domain name and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate will need to be renewed annually.
Depending on its desirability, a .co.uk domain name will cost between around £4.99 and £100 a year (.com will be slightly more).
In 2019, websites really shouldn’t be without an SSL certificate. It gives your site an added layer of security, and means it will be presented to users as a ‘trustworthy’ source, without any warning messages. It puts the ‘s’ in the ‘https://’ at the start of your web address. An SSL certificate will cost between £15 and £200 a year.
Hosting is generally billed on a monthly basis. Shared hosting can cost as little as £3 per month, whereas dedicated hosting can cost around £200 per month.
Backups are good. Backup everything. Then backup your backups!
You get the picture.
Imagine how heartbreaking it would be if your website got a virus or was hacked, and you didn’t have a backup version to launch. Think of all the content that would need to be recreated.
Save yourself the hassle.
The process of backing up is slightly different for each web framework. If you have a WordPress website, you can get a plugin like the UpdraftPlus, which makes the process really simple.
Some hosting platforms actually provide a backup system, so it’s worth investigating that first.
As well as making sure you’re creating new content regularly, you’ll need to update the old stuff, too. Prices and stats quickly become outdated, and staff bios need changing as people come and go. It’s a pretty big task.
These days, most website frameworks (yes, including WordPress!) have a content management system (CMS) built right in. This makes it easy for anyone in the business to update the site, no matter how tech-savvy they are.
As your content evolves, you might also need to add extra features to your website to make for a richer user experience, and to make sure that the content can actually fit on your site.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has come a long way in recent years. There used to be a big focus on keywords, and stuffing them into articles to be successful in Google searches. Nowadays, genuinely quality content is rewarded far more.
That said, it pays to keep up to date with best SEO practice. For example, the number of characters in meta tags (the description of your article that appears in Google) can change, and these will then need updating so they display properly on a page of search results.
How much does website maintenance cost?
Truth be told, while some will enjoy the challenge of maintaining a website themselves, most outsource this task to a specialist company. How much it will cost depends on exactly what you want included, and the size and complexity of your website.
The overall cost of ongoing website maintenance will be:
- Monthly maintenance package: £40 and £200+ per month
- Cost of your domain name: £4.99 to £100 per year
- SSL certificate: £15 to £200 per year
- Web hosting: £3 to £200 per month
Looking for a simpler solution? Remember, with website builders, you can expect to pay significantly less. Your hosting is included, as are web framework updates. Websites created with website builders will also have more security measures automatically in place, and you’ll have a support team in case anything goes wrong.
▶ Find out more: Top 5 website builders
The amount of maintenance that a website needs can sound overwhelming, but it’s easily managed by an external company (or you can definitely get into the swing of doing it yourself).
Either way, don’t let it put you off taking the plunge and getting your website developed! Here’s our roundup of the best web design companies for small businesses, and the best web design companies for ecommerce. Make sure you also check out how much a website costs so you can get an idea of design prices. Your web designer should be able to give you a more specific idea of maintenance costs, too - in fact, some will actually offer this service.