One of the most overlooked areas of web design is what happens AFTER the site is launched.
Websites are kind of like having a baby. You make a big deal about what kind of dbirth plan you want, what your experience will be, where you want to deliver, whether or not to use pain meds, and when it’s all said and done, you find out that those decisions were not, in fact, the ones that impact the health of your child the most.
It’s what comes after that fills your days and keeps you up all night. Now you have a human baby to keep alive.
How is this like web design? Well, most small business owners don’t understand exactly how their website works, and thus, don’t see the value of maintaining it. This is at no fault to them. It’s just a lack of knowledge of what is really at risk when it’s not cared for properly.
HOW IT WORKS
When we design a website, we take your domain, which you bought from your hosting provider (like Siteground (our favorite), GoDaddy, BlueHost, Hostgator, etc) and install a set of files on it. We get this set of files from WordPress or the host for free.
That set of files is called WordPress. I’m oversimplifying here, but this is what in a nutshell happens.
That set of files is connected to “the mothership” of WordPress. WordPress developers are responsible for keeping THEIR files up to date, nice and tidy, functioning properly, protecting it against predators who would seek to find back doors in or ways to destroy it or compromise its security.
The problem is, those developers do not automatically update the set of files we installed on YOUR site. So every day, and every week as they get reports of bugs and required fixes from customers and website owners like you, they are making improvements to the set of files (WordPress) and updating them. They make those updated files available to us (designers and developers) and anyone who wants them, but we still have to go grab them and update the files on YOUR site. And our own site. It doesn’t happen automatically.
About that last part, it CAN happen automatically. But here’s the risk…
You also have plugins installed on your website. Plugins are to your website what apps are to your phone or extensions are to your web browser. They do cool things, or rather, make your website do cool things, and simplify your and our life, improving the quality of your site in lots of various ways (think SEO plugins, slideshows, cool sidebar widgets, lead opt-in delivery, email signup form integrations for growing your list, and so on).
Those plugins were created by people who coded them and offered them up to the public via an online marketplace for free or for a price.
Those authors of the plugins you have are responsible for keeping their plugin “up to date” in all the same ways WordPress might be kept up to date.
But sometimes those authors don’t do it perfectly, or are a day or a week or even months behind the latest version of WordPress, and the plugins do not “play nice” with the new core framework (the files) of WordPress. See where this is going?
If you automatically update your WordPress core framework (which we do not recommend), and those plugins are not compatible, something on your site will break. Possibly lots of things. There’s no way of knowing until after it’s too late. You click “update” or it happens automatically once the new version is released, and you’re … well, you’re not in a good spot. Now your site is either broken or down completely and you need a savior (presumably, us) to come in and get it LIVE again, investigating, diagnosing and repairing the issue and getting it back to good health.
This is sort of like eating whatever your heart desires for 50 years and wishing and hoping you don’t have any health issues at 60. We may be exaggerating, but you get the point. It’s risky. It’s likely you WILL have issues and will encounter either:
1. Security risks
2. Hackers. (Ugh, hackers. WE hate those guys. They actually go around LOOKING for sites that are out of date because they’re easier to compromise and install their malware and dirty viruses on. No joke. If your site is out of date, you’re especially vulnerable.)
3. Broken functions on your site
4. Your site going down entirely until you pay someone to fix it.
I’ve seen it time and time again. Small business owners battling to get their site back up and paying hundreds of dollars to fix whatever broke. I’ve BEEN that person. And your host does not feel very bad for you when you find yourself in this spot. In fact, it’s one of the ways they make some pretty sweet profits, on their programs and packages that have to go in and REMOVE the malware or viruses that have been installed on your site. I’ve paid those fees, back in my early days of designing before I understood all this. It sucks, and it ain’t pretty.
So, no pressure, and we don’t want to fear monger you. But if you want the best for your peace of mind, and your business, we can help!