So when you had your Web site built you no doubt paid extra to have it built on a content management system (CMS) such as Drupal or WordPress. One of the selling points was that you would be able to update the content yourself and would not have to rely on developer to keep the site up to date. For many, at the time of purchasing a new Web site, discussing Web support options is an up-sale experience similar to discussing clear coat at car dealership. You have just forked out what seems like a ton of money and now the developer wants to add to your bill. Wait! Why don’t they just build it right, you keep the content up to date using the CMS and there should be no need for support, right? As with most things in life, it is not that simple. Below are a few reasons why you should consider a regular support plan for your Web site.

Quick Note:  If you buy a new Website be sure to ask about a warranty period. Any good developer or development firm should provide you with 30 to 90 days in which they will fix anything that is not working as it should from the original scope of work.

Security – Keeping the Bad Guys Out
Dynamic web languages and the servers they run on are constantly changing. Updates are made on a regular basis, new features are added and security holes plugged. Remember that any software’s security is only as good the last hack or exploit. It is incredibly important to make sure that both the software that your Website was written with and the serverware it is running on is kept up to date with the latest security patches.

There is no ‘Design’ Button
No matter how user friendly your site may be, the ability to create new design elements such as banners, buttons and section templates etc still require technical skills that go way beyond the CMS controls. Creating a CMS specific template requires a dynamic web language like PHP and knowledge of how to connect it all to a database such as MySQL. Having such support will allow you to run product promotions, highlight events and keep your Website look fresh.

Technology is Always Changing
We have all heard it, the rate of which technology is progressing and changing is faster than it has ever been. When your website launches it may have been tested in all the latest browsers, but changes are on the way. Did you know most major browsers companies have adopted what is called a ‘rapid release cycle’? This basically means they are pushing new major versions of their browsers out at a rate of 1 per month. Keeping your site looking good in all used browser version is on on going campaign.

Stuff Breaks (or slows down)
It seems like it shouldn’t. I mean you have not changed anything and maybe not have even touched the system since the time it was working last. However due to complexity of Web sites today and the servers they run on, it is fact that things go wrong. They break, they slow down, things stop working as they once did. There are thousands of reasons why this stuff occurs and having a team to call upon is essential when working with such systems.

Add New features, Update Old Features
It is important to keep you site up to date, not only in terms of content but the features and functions that are used by your visitors. From the time you launch your website, you should be constantly making improvements to your visitor’s experience. Many of these items are things that you could not have thought of at the time you built your Web site.

Your Business is Changing and so Should Your Web Site
Times change, people change, businesses change and so should your Web site. Keeping your site up to date with your business is not only important to your site visitors but will help extend the lifetime of you site, saving money over complete redesigns and rebuilds.

Third Parties Change (and the nice ones warn you)
Most Web sites today rely on at least one third party service to aid in its visitor experience and your marketing efforts. Sometimes these are complex integrations with other software systems but much of the time these connections are as simple as share buttons, Facebook Like buttons, Tweet me buttons and the like. Did you now that Facebook rolled out a huge update to their connection system (API) at the beginning of 2012? This change was announced months before but still resulted in thousands of major sites loosing the ability to log into their site with a user’s Facebook credentials. Such third parties can change systems whenever they feel fit and it is up to individual site owners to make updates on their site.

Extend the Lifetime of Your Web Site.
By keeping your site up to date with critical security patches, general software upgrades, keeping the user experience fresh and features and functions in line with your visitor’s expectations you can greatly extend the amount of time a Web site may be online before having to be rebuilt.

Hosting Support Typically Does Not Cover Web Site Issues
Web hosting support typically on covers the server that your Web site is hosted on and actually covers very few issues directly related to your specific Web site. I often say that hosting support does little more than keep a green light lit on the front of the server. Read my recent post on what hosting support does and does not cover.

photo by openpad / cc