The Myth: Your Website’s Done When It’s Done
Most people believe that once they’ve had their website designed and tested and it’s up and running, the website job is done. All will run smoothly from this point on. You’re especially prone to expect that this is so when they’ve had your site built on a supposedly user-friendly platform like WordPress.
The problem is, it’s not true.
Like a car, a website needs to be oiled and lubricated regularly, it needs gas to keep it going, it must have the alignment checked, belts sometimes replaced, oil changed every few thousand miles, and tires rotated and occasionally replaced altogether. And when something breaks, the car doesn’t run until it’s fixed.
A Website Is Way More Than What You See
Websites may seem like magic, but they’re created and controlled by a lot of moving parts behind the scenes, and those parts are built by people all over the world; I’m talking about themes, plugins, tools, and of course the website-building platform itself (WordPress, Joomla, Wix, or whatever). Those various bits and pieces; the components of your site, are redesigned and reissued frequently, sometimes to address glitches within the component, sometimes to strengthen the component against hacking and viruses. Whenever a reissue happens, it must be updated on your site. That takes monitoring and work and testing to make sure that each such update is done when it’s needed, and that it works properly and doesn’t cause any problems with how your website looks or operates. And it takes know-how in fixing problems that do arise sometimes when updates are done.
Then There’s the Really Hairy Stuff
If you hired a developer to create your site for you, it’s possible that he or she wrote some custom code for the cascading style sheet or even made edits to the deep-down php files that tell all the bits of your site how to behave with one another (not a place for the faint-hearted). Think back to when you had your website made for you. Did you look at the first design, and then say something like, “I don’t like the font for the headlines,” or “Can you move the photos up to the very top of the page?” Maybe the designer changed an option within the theme, which might seem like no big deal to figure out later, but I’ll have something to say about that in a minute. But I’m talking here about custom css or edits to php files. I’m telling you, if you’re not a web developer yourself, you cannot dig out, understand, or unravel this stuff, but you sure can destroy your site in a jiffy. I’m not saying it’s rocket science; sure, lots of people can learn how to do this kind of thing. But to learn takes time, courses, and training, and a good deal of trial and error. This is not do-it-yourself stuff. So unless you want to become a web developer, this is not for you.
And Sometimes Your Web Developer Maybe Didn’t Know Some Important Stuff
Here’s something I often find when I take on a new client; their site is using a parent theme, not a child theme. Don’t worry; I’m not going to bore you with even a short explanation of what those things are. But I’ll say this; if your site is operating on a parent theme, you’re in a pickle. Why? Because if a reissue of your theme is released, and you update it on your site, you could well lose all those lovely customizations your developer made for you, and your site won’t look or work like it’s supposed to. If, on the other hand, you ignore the update, then you are now open to the risk of glitches or security breaches that the reissue was designed to fix. Either way, like I said… pickle.
And that’s just one thing. There are way more than a handful of other settings and features that I look for when I take over an existing site for a client. I find out-of-date or missing pieces so often (regular backups, security monitoring, spam filtering, conflict monitoring, image file compression…) that I’m frankly shocked when I inherit a site that’s set up properly. Just sayin’.
So That’s My Long-Winded Way of Saying: Every Website Needs a Webmaster
It could be you, sure, but like I said (see “Hairy Stuff,” above), it’s not a job for you if you’re not interested in making it your job, i.e. taking courses and getting training in web development and design. So if your website is important for your business and your business is not web development, then it’s important to have a webmaster.
My Webmaster Service
Which leads me to my webmaster service. All of the worries, housekeeping, monitoring, testing, and fixing that are necessary to keep your site up, safe, pretty, and operating, I do for you. I monitor your site for downtime, I check in to see if updates are needed, I perform “safe updates” that involve backing up the site first and then checking for discrepancies after the updates are done. I make sure you have the latest iteration of the WordPress platform whenever a new version comes out. I make sure you’re operating with a child theme, not a parent theme – an essential component of the safety of your site. And I make sure your site is backed up regularly so that if – god forbid – your site should become infected or go down (you never, ever, want to deal with the “White Screen of Death”), I can just throw it out and reinstall the uncontaminated, properly operating site all over again.
If you’d like to talk with me about taking your website under my wing, give me a shout. My rate is $195 a month. It’s just like insurance; you don’t want to pay the premium, but you sure as heck don’t want to live without the protection.