December 3rd, 2015
You may have been advised by your developer in the past to set up a support and maintenance contract after your website or web app is finished. But, what is there to support and maintain? The project is finished, so shouldn’t everything run smoothly afterwards?
As smoothly as your site might run now, that might not always be the case. For one, the internet is evolving every day so it’s important to stay up to date. Depending on the type of website or webapp, how it’s used, and your business growth, your needs for support and maintenance will vary. The overall goal of website and webapp support and maintenance is to prevent any unexpected issues that may result in an emergency situation for your company. But, it’s understandable that some may be skeptical of a service when they do not understand its purpose or importance. So let’s delve in.
What does web support and maintenance mean?
Just like a car, websites and web apps require regular tune ups to keep them running smoothly and to avoid complicated problems down the road. The exact services of support companies and freelancers can vary depending on their expertise. But in general, support and maintenance includes any services that keep your existing website performing how it was originally intended with minor updates here and there.
For websites, this can include things like content updates, bug fixes, tweaks to make your website compatible with new browsers, minor changes to the design, optimizing photos for your website, and adding or updating marketing promotions such as banners or popups, adding marketing tags, among others.
For webapps, clients can sometimes request similar tasks. However, since most webapps are database-driven, they usually require a different set of services that are more complex and are therefore more development-heavy. Some modifications and updates can be completed with ease through the use of a Content Management System (CMS), but most features of a webapp are customized to fit your specific business. You will probably need assistance in learning how to maneuver through the system and this specialized training is part of your support and maintenance plan.
Security is also a big part of all support and maintenance process as routine check ups protect your site from hackers, among other malicious events. Additional tasks commonly associated with support and maintenance plans are:
- Back-ups of your website or web app
- Monitoring/upgrading of your software and server
- Monitoring of your website or web app’s performance (speed, functionality, etc.)
- Ensuring cross-browser & mobile compatibility
- Content modifications and updates
- Routine updates
- Support in the case of an emergency such as broken links, errors messages, and accessibility issues
- General support for occasional bugs like display/image issues, text formatting issues, and problems with browser compatibility
“What if I want to redesign my website?” you might ask. Or what if you need to integrate a new software into your webapp? Is that covered under support? In most cases, no. Just like changing the paint color or adding a new bumper to your car isn’t considered routine maintenance, large changes to your website or webapp aren’t either. Website and webapp support and maintenance only covers routine tweaks and updates to keep your business running smoothly and prevent problems.
Who needs web support and maintenance?
Every business does not require an elaborate and extensive maintenance and support plan while others do. Brochure websites, smaller scale websites set up with a proper CMS, and even eCommerce websites with limited customization can often be managed quite easily. Once in a while you will need to upgrade your CMS, plugins, template, or eCommerce platform, which can usually be done by someone with some web knowledge or with on-demand short-term support.
Other websites and webapps need more attention and expertise to maintain. Websites and webapps that usually need routine support and maintenance include those that:
- Require customization or have existing customization
- Have a consistent need for regular content changes and updates
- Are growing and needing consistent modification or additions
- Are integrated with other 3rd party software
Depending on the size of your company and its resources, web support can save owners and employees time by outsourcing the effort it takes to manage your website or webapp. Since most companies don’t need full-time support, it can also be more cost effective than hiring an in-house web developer and designer.
Can I do it myself?
No matter how simple a website may seem on the surface, underneath is complex code put in place by your programmer(s). With so much underlying code, there are many opportunities to make mistakes when you choose to do it yourself or enlist the help of an inexperienced employee. It can leave your website, webapp, or business open to bugs, glitches, and often, security issues. It is best to establish a support and maintenance relationship with an experienced developer that best suits your business’ specific needs.
Websites and web apps require upkeep, just like many other aspects of your business. You can rely on your support team when things go wrong and when things are going smoothly. Establishing a support and maintenance plan can provide ease of mind for your business and staff.
If you’d like to learn more about support and maintenance services, contact us. We’re always happy to help!