Websites, like cars, require maintenance.

By Mamie Patton | January 26, 2016

At Red Letter we specialize in helping our clients get the right site for their needs. That might require building a new custom site, a templated site, or updating their existing site. But no matter what, we also know every site requires regular maintenance, and we want you to understand why.

Website functionalities are constantly changing.

Clients are often under the impression that once their site is built, it will function flawlessly forever. Sadly, there is no such thing (because if there was, we’d build only that). The fact is websites need routine upkeep and adjustment, much like cars, to keep things running smoothly. The environment in which your site functions changes every day, and that means your code and software require regular maintenance to stay on pace.

Because we’re familiar with cars, we know better than to think that driving one off the lot means it won’t need gas or oil. But where the web differs from the road is that it’s not the car that’s slowly changing, but the road. Essentially, you need to adjust your vehicle to the landscape –a landscape that, for better or worse, you’re constantly navigating. You wouldn’t dare take your heavy, bald-tired pickup down a rainy Seattle highway, even though it’s perfectly fine to drive 300 days a year in Arizona. Transfer that attitude to your site, and it seems obvious you’d want to keep everything safe, and smooth.

Invest a little on regular maintenance or spend a lot to recover after you’ve lost prospects.

The expectation that a fresh site should never require care comes from 1) the want to save money, and 2) unfamiliarity with the way sites work. The first can be dismissed easily using our car metaphor. Refusing to replace your wiper blades because your car still runs is absurd. Driving has many other facets than a solid vehicle. There’s a user to consider, and if that user faces complications, your running engine is useless.

The latter is simply a matter of being unacquainted with site function. Most of the websites you use and visit everyday –particularly those utilizing databases (like Google and Amazon)– contain countless lines of code, and rely on software that runs on your web host. The strength of each system varies, but odds are the code within was written by several developers at different times, and with different skill sets. Much of this is “open source,” or code made available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design, completely free of charge. Needless to say, this code changes often and drastically, and results in malfunctions within your site. Pages load slower, links break without warning, and most importantly, it’s a security risk.

The familiar threat to neglected sites are hackers (and other digital villains) who search for vulnerabilities in code, and don’t mind throwing kinks in yours to get at desired information. If you’re even vaguely familiar with code, you know that, like Christmas lights, one glitch can cause the whole shebang to go dark. The fallout from a site hack is devastating, and reinstalling from a backup won’t always cut it. Whatever data processed between the fallout and reinstall is likely lost to the ether. For businesses that can mean lost leads, or in the ecommerce world, missing orders.

You must understand and address exactly how your site was exploited –that means fixing existing damage, and upgrading the code (and themes, and extensions) to run the latest software so it doesn’t happen again. And if you were worried about the expense of initial maintenance, these fixes can cost. Put that on top of the lost revenue during downtime, and you’re looking at a hefty bill.

Regular website maintenance assures smooth and secure operations for both you and your site’s visitors. Without it, things will start to chip away –and that’s if nothing bad happens. At its worst, unmaintained sites get exploited through outdated source code, bringing down the castle walls.

Users expect everything to function predictably, and they will quickly leave your site if it’s not working as expected.

To keep everyone happy, and your business well represented, get that oil changed methodically, and adjust your equipment to the road. Invest in website maintenance.