Website 101 – Why Do I Need Ongoing Support?

January 15, 2020

You might be familiar with the analogy of the man with the hammer, but in case you aren’t here it is again.

A technology company is having a problem with one of their particularly critical machines. They try to work out what is wrong with it. They search the internet for suggestions. They try a number of different things, but ultimately they cannot fix it. So they reluctantly they call a specialist in to come and fix the machine for them. The expert arrives and spends a little bit of time looking over the machine. Then he takes a hammer out of his toolbox, walks over to a specific part of the machine and gives it a short sharp tap. The machine whirrs back into life – problem solved. The specialist then walks over to the business owner and presents him with a bill for £100. The owner looks at it incredulously and says “but all you did is hit it with a hammer!”. The specialist takes the piece of paper back and scribbles on it for a few seconds and then hands it back to the business owner. He looks at it again and this time he sees that the bill has been itemised: £10 – cost of the hammer, £90 cost of the knowledge to know where to tap the machine.

The morale of this story is quite clear. Whilst something might appear to be quite straight forward, the knowledge, skills and ability to undertake it have not come easily and that is actually what you pay for when you commission a service. Your website is no different.

What do you need to keep your website up and running?

Websites are like most things that have been engineered. They require maintenance to keep them running. They require parts being replaced and upgraded to keep them current and fit for purpose. They require someone to pay attention to the changing needs of both the site and the influences of the world around them. After all, you wouldn’t buy a car and expect it to keep working perfectly for years without any sort of work done to it. Websites are the same. They require maintenance because code standards and security measures get updated, but they also require updates for more practical things, like complying with search engine guidelines and keeping content correct.

The ongoing support you need falls into a number of areas:

  • Technical maintenance
  • Content & design support
  • Dealing with 3rd party changes and requirements
  • New change requirements

Technical maintenance

Whilst this might seem small it is arguably the most important part. Technical maintenance covers upgrades to the code and plugins of the website and also of the server itself. Without these updates new vulnerabilities may be exposed where hackers exploit previously undiscovered problems with code. One of the most common issues that occur with WordPress sites (and other platforms) is malware that gets in by just this way. Sites are not updated and maintenance is not undertaken and soon the site is vulnerable. Malware exploits this and installs itself deep in the core of WordPress and may then not actively show itself for some time. And then before you know it links to naked ladies area appearing when you least expect it.

At Idio Web Services we undertake regular upgrades to make sure all the plugins, the themes, WordPress itself and also the underlying server are up to date with the latest secure code. But we also scan your site regular to check if there is anything untoward that has managed to get into your build. And because we create daily backups of your website, if the worst has happened then we can restore to a clean build for you within minutes.

We also protect your site by installing and monitoring additional security and configuring firewalls to protect your site against the common ways in which people might get access.

Another part of our technical maintenance is installing, configuring and monitoring performance related aspects. We do this in a number of ways;

  • Caching and optimisation plugins – these are plugins that we install and configure to make sure your images and files are optimised for the fastest speed possible.
  • CDN – This is a ‘content delivery network’ and we usually use CloudFlare. This takes a copy of the site and serves it from the cloud, reducing strain on the server and increasing response times. This also allows us to deal with malicious attacks much more quickly, should they occur.

Content & Design Support

We feel that this is the most important service that we deliver, as part of our contract approach, and one that you are unlikely to get from most other suppliers. Being able to make changes and updates to your content whenever you need to, and ideally regularly, is critical if your site is to remain relevant. But we take it a step further because we also believe that being able to make design changes to your website whenever you want, and at no extra charge, gives you the flexibility to be ahead of the crowd.

All of our monthly contract websites get full content support and design support. So if you need new content added, a new page design or you want to rejig the designs you already have then all you need to do is ask. Most suppliers would charge hundreds of pounds every time you want a change but with us it is part of the service you get. Because we believe that should be part of the service you get from a web services partner.

And what is more – if you wanted to do a complete redesign of your site, then if you commit to a new 18 month contract we will do it for free!

Dealing with 3rd party changes and requirements

You might think that this is just part of the technical maintenance? But what we mean by this is also keeping in line with new standards set by governing bodies, such as ICO (Information Commissioners Office) or changes to how Google might work. A good example of this is the ICOs new standard on Cookie Management, which came in earlier this year. Guidelines on data protection change all the time so being able to get these changes made to your site quickly is important. Similarly, Google often changes its algorithms and so part of your service includes monitoring the Google Search Console to see if Google flags anything that it wants changing and then doing this for you. Without setting this monitoring up you wouldn’t know that your site is not meeting standards and before you know it you could find your site is blacklisted or flagged in search engines for things that you don’t want it to be flagged for.

New change requirements

Much like making design changes, one of the most costly things for website owners is if they want to add new features to their website. Most suppliers will charge a lot of money to make changes. But we have a huge catalogue of functionality that our platform allows us to access for you. And in the wider WordPress market there are even more plugins that can give you all sorts of functionality. So assuming we don’t need to actually write bespoke code for you then you can add new features free of charge as well.

And if you do find that what you’re asking for isn’t already available in some form, then you can always commission some bespoke development for us. Because of the way we work, our charges for bespoke development are incredibly affordable and cheaper than most other suppliers.

Can’t I just hit it with a hammer myself?

Well yes, you can try and do all these things yourself. But in general if people come to website services provider it is because they do not have the skills to do it themselves. We have the skills to know how to run every aspect of your website for you. And we can run your wider online portfolio as well. Whether that be social media and campaigns, search engine optimisation, or helping support your wider marketing efforts with our graphical design services.

With Idio, you get a full service provided to you at an affordable price. We have designed our service so that we take care of everything about your website so that you don’t need to worry about dealing with multiple suppliers, dealing with problems that might occur (and can be very costly to resolve) and so that you can easily update, add and change every aspect of your website without needing to pay more money. What more could you want?

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