Is Website Maintenance A Scam?
One of the most common add-ons that website developers offer their clients is monthly (or annual) website maintenance contracts. The exact details differ depending on the person or company offering the contract, but the basic services are fairly similar in general.
But is website maintenance really necessary? Websites are not like cars. There are no moving parts, no fluids to top off, and no wear and tear from the road. A website doesn’t deteriorate over time due to how many views or clicks it gets. So … are maintenance contracts a scam? What is the person performing the “maintenance” doing, exactly?
What Is Website Maintenance?
First things first: website maintenance is not a scam. It’s actually an incredibly important and necessary part of keeping a website working properly and doing all the things it was designed to do.
Each month, every website typically needs some or all of the following things:
- Security updates
- Plugin updates
- Broken link repair
- Page redirects
- Compatibility adjustments
Depending on the size and complexity of a website, the maintenance needed can take anywhere from an hour or two, to an entire afternoon or more. These updates protect your website from things like spam, hacking, and traffic loss. They also ensure your site functions correctly on all types of devices and connection speeds.
Unlike a real car, which wears out the longer you drive it, it’s the world around the car that changes when it comes to website maintenance.
How To Check The Work
Another common concern clients have about signing up for a website maintenance contract is that they don’t know how to tell if the work they’re paying for is actually being done. Unlike changing website text and images, adding blog posts, or posting on social media channels, website maintenance is typically invisible to the person or company paying for it.
It’s not unusual for web developers to get a call from their clients after they’ve sent out an invoice asking, “What exactly is this for, again?”
Listening to a developer rattle off a bunch of tech-speak about “404 errors” and plugin security updates often doesn’t ease a client’s suspicion that they’re paying for “A whole lot of not much.”
For those who share this concern, ask your developer to show you what updates they’ve made recently. Web development platforms like WordPress have built-in tools for updating all the various components of a website, so it’s easy to verify that everything is up to date:
If your developer is unable or refuses to show you what work they’ve done to keep your site working properly, it’s possible that they are, in fact, scamming you by taking your money and not doing any actual maintenance work.
How Much Should Website Maintenance Cost?
Defining the cost range for website maintenance is tricky. Many web developers will bundle maintenance and content updates into one price, while others charge different rates depending on the type of site and work being done.
Further complicating the issue, some developers will only install the updates to your site, and if those updates break your site or cause it lose functionality, they’ll charge an additional fee to go back in and correct the problem. It’s reprehensible, but it happens from time to time, so be very careful when choosing a maintenance provider.
Generally speaking, for small and medium-size business websites running on one of the common development platforms (WordPress, SquareSpace, Joomla, Drupal, etc.) the typical range tends to be from about $35 to $150 per month.
ManageWP, a WordPress website maintenance software provider, published a comprehensive website maintenance pricing survey in 2016 that is still very relevant today.
If you are considering getting professional help developing and/or maintaining your business’s website, make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for before writing a check. Not all developers offer website maintenance services, and you may not want to work with someone who won’t support your site after they’ve finished building it.
If you do hire someone to maintain your site, make sure you know how to check their work and verify that you’re getting what you pay for.
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