Technical reasons for website maintenance

Why does website maintenance matter?

Think about your car needing maintenance. It won’t work without regular oil changes, tire rotation, replacing parts that break through wear and tear, and even putting gas in the gas tank (or charging your electric car). All of these things are maintenance, and it turns out websites need this too.

But I used to have a site on Wix, Squarespace or fill in the blank platform and I never had to do maintenance… 

Site builders like Wix and Squarespace take care of a lot of the maintenance for you. But that’s because there is less flexibility out of the box. Their model is to have tighter control on their platform and codebase, which means they can push maintenance updates without the end-user knowing about it. 

But WordPress is different.

If your site is built on WordPress, which if it’s a business site it probably is, then maintenance needs are much greater than Wix or Squarespace. Wix and Squarespace are closed-off software as a service platforms. The source code that makes these platforms work is managed internally, while WordPress is open-source, meaning anyone can get involved with finding problems in the source code and suggesting fixes or improvements. This means that WordPress is kind of like Wikipedia, where anyone can propose edits, while Wix and Squarespace are like Encyclopedia Britannica. 

So why does WordPress need maintenance? 

Because the source code is open for anyone on the internet to see, that means people with good and bad intentions are monitoring the code. As helpful programmers find problems in the code and announce it publicly so it can be fixed, black hat programmers attempt to exploit those problem areas. If the black hat programmers find exploits, they target live WordPress sites. So, because of the pressure from black hat programmers, maintenance is required for a WordPress site to stay out of their reach. 

What happens if I don’t maintain my WordPress site? 

  1. Being hacked is more likely. A WordPress hack can look like so many different ways. For instance, one site was held hostage and a Jihadist webpage was put up in it’s place. Another site was just having partial SEO siphoned off quietly in the background. Another hack was implemented to use web servers as a botnet to attack other websites. 
  2. Parts of the website may break. This is due to dependencies that are connected to the site no longer being supported or staying at the same version. Basically there’s stuff outside of the website you see that the front-facing site is dependent on. This is because the site is running various smaller software that is all stitched together to make one big piece of software, and everything has to move forward together or else it falls apart.

How much does it cost if my site is hacked or broken?

Here are some questions to ponder:

  • What do people expect from your brand, and how does your site being hacked or broken impact those expectations?
  • How much work do you have to do to recover your site? Are there regular backups, a predetermined restoration process or contingency plan?
  • If SEO is a concern, what are the long-term negative effects of being hacked or the site being broken?
  • How much time will be required to diagnose the hack and repair the site?
  • What’s the difference between good and bad branding for your organization?
  • If the site is ecommerce or holds sensitive data, what malicious activity could be done with it? For example, email lists, contact form entries, customer information, etc. 

Pause and think about that. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. 

In summary:

Maintenance keeps everything running smoothly. If you’re happy with your website because it’s doing what you want it to do, then maintenance keeps your website as an asset, not a liability. Instead of a thorn in your side, it’s a machine that helps you, and machines need regular maintenance so they keep helping you do what you want to do. If this stimulates a conversation please look at our Managed Website Services page and contact us.