Every business, especially in the digital realm, faces major projects. Checking these projects off your to-do list is especially satisfying, knowing that you have spent weeks or months along with a significant portion of your budget to get it accomplished.
Web development seems like it fits perfectly into that timeframe. Once you have a shiny new website, it's easy to admire it while moving on to the next project. But in reality, a truly optimized web presence is never finished. You need website maintenance to ensure that your newly minted digital presence not only helps you right after it's finished, but for years to come.
What Could Go Wrong?
Above all, no product launch is flawless. Regardless of how much you test your new website, chances are that a couple of bugs will have found their way into the code that may not be discovered until a while after the launch.
These bugs generally occur within one of two categories: user experience issues and security vulnerabilities. Both are significant in their own way.
Naturally, security vulnerabilities can have a significant impact on your business, especially if you use your website to collect the personal or financial information of customers. Anytime you detect a vulnerability, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
But don't discount the potential impact of bugs that 'only' impact user experience. If your visitors encounter a website that does not function properly, they will draw conclusions about the credibility of your business. They will lose trust in your brand, and are more likely to turn to a competitor instead.
Prevention Works Best
Especially if you are just beginning to embark on a website development or redesign project, the last thing you want to think about is what happens after it's finished. After all, getting through the project itself is enough to occupy your time, and you can always worry about it when something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, reality is not that simple. If you wait to maintain your website until it's necessary, you risk running into a variety of problems:
- Additional costs. Generally speaking, fixing a problem after the fact always costs more than preventing that problem in the first place.
- User experience. If you don't have a web maintenance plan, chances are you're relying on your users to tell you when something goes wrong. Of course, that also means you will alienate visitors who are expecting your website to work flawlessly.
- Web downtime. Compounding the user experience issue, a problem on your website - especially one that requires an immediate fix - might require web downtime. That, in turn, means you both lose out on valuable traffic during that time, and potentially lose members of your audience who believe the lack of a functioning website reflects poorly on your business.
The Need for Partnership
All of the above points suggest the need for website maintenance that ensures you work with a reliable partner to fix bugs and problems as they occur, not after the fact. In fact, we would recommend making the possibility and existence of a web maintenance plan a crucial criterion for choosing your web developer.
But even if everything goes right, maintenance of your website can still benefit your business. Websites are not static products, and will change dynamically as the needs of both your brand and your target audience change.
Take, for example, the increasing mobile dominance in internet usage. To accommodate users on mobile devices, companies without a maintenance plan are forced to engage the process of making their website mobile friendly as an entirely new web development process. But if you consider your website as a fluid product in need of consistent updates, chances are you are already partnering with a developer who can help you bring your website into the mobile age.
Don't consider web development a one-off process that you can check off your to-do list once it's finished. Web maintenance can help you ensure that your website benefits your business, not only immediately after launch but for years to come.