With dentistry, prevention and early detection are vital to avoiding pain and expense. WordPress (or any software) is, unfortunately, the same.
Many businesses often don't see the value, in signing up to WordPress care & maintenance contracts. I get it - it's difficult to "see" the problems that can crop up over time, or, much like the dentist, it requires a WordPress expert to spot the "issues" or "warning signs".
Your website will need maintaining over time, whether it cost £200 or £20,000, an off-the-shelf theme or a bespoke theme, ten pages or 10,000 pages, 30 visitors or 3 million visitors. Your WordPress website will need maintenance. It's far better, far cheaper and far less painful to be pro-active.
The key areas of WordPress maintenance are
The single biggest reason is security.
WordPress is the most widely used CMS in the world - it powers around 40% of the web. It's an attractive target for hackers - but it also means there is a vast community of people "fighting" against these hackers to ensure WordPress core, themes and plugins stay safe & secure. Regularly maintaining, finding and fixing security flaws in the software.
Therefore, keeping your WordPress website up to date is probably the best ways to keep it secure - its the first line of defence. The websites most at risk, are sites that are running old code and don't update regularly.
WordPress core, themes & plugins are updated continuously - fixing vulnerabilities, adding new features, making it easier to use, improving performance and fixing bugs. It's one of WordPress' greatest strengths as a platform.
However, occasionally, it doesn't go to plan - a new feature from one plugin isn't compatible with the theme you are using - or the author of the plugin no longer active. Broken websites are bad for your brand & your customers.
The industry best practice is to create a test website before going live. A staging/test website is an exact duplicate of your live website. I apply the updates on staging, test and then finally deploy to live - no "click & hope" updates.
Backups & Recovery
The ability to recover your website is essential. Although very rare sometimes a problem happens that is catastrophic. Your website was hacked, your server blew up, it could be a simple mistake of someone deleting fundamental data or someone in your organisation forgot to pay the hosting company's bills.
It can happen intentionally or accidentally, but you need a plan to recover your website and get back online.
A WordPress maintenance plan will nearly always include an "off-site" backup & recovery process.
Automated checking of your WordPress website to make sure it accessible to your customers or potential customers. If your website goes offline, it's essential to understand why - it could be your hosting company is having server issues, a problem in the code, too many visitors or maybe even an "attack". Having an expert on hand to deal with the emergency is good for business.
Google ranks fast-loading websites higher. So a slow website could be costing you money. It's not just Google - Users HATE slow websites, UX research has shown a slow website will cost you money & customers. They will go to your competitors.
Like monitoring up-time, it's useful to track website performance to identify issues before they cause problems. Once identified, we can work to optimise & improve the website speed.
A proactive plan that focuses on preventative measures to protect your website will be far cheaper over the long term.
About Fraser Clark
I've been a professional developer for over 10 years. I've been consulting and developing websites & software for small businesses, multi-nationals & governments.