WordPress maintenance (or care) packages are all the rage these days, but do you really need one?
The short answer is 'no', but only if you know what you're doing and you have time to do it.
Here are my five main reasons why you should take out a WordPress care package:
Keep WordPress up to date
I love WordPress, I really do. You can make a pretty good looking website relatively quickly, without too much technical knowledge. But it has many layers, like an iceberg, and the finished, visible part of your website is just the top.
Underneath that there are all sorts of things that need to be kept up to date: themes, plugins, php, even WordPress itself.
Take php, for example. Do you know which version your site uses? If it's anything less than 5.4 then it's no longer supported, meaning there will be no more security updates for it.
You should really be on the most recent, fully tested release, which is currently 7.0, but do you know how to update it? And did you know that some of your plugins and themes may not work correctly with 7.0? So what would you do if they don't?
The same applies to themes and plugins. They're easy enough to update (you just click on the Updates notification in your Dashboard), but have you ever had one fail? Just because they play nicely together with their current versions, doesn't mean to say that the new ones will be bug free (you may not believe it, but coders are only human so can make mistakes like everyone else). So what would you do if your beloved website turned into the white screen of death?
You'd probably hire a professional, and at that point you could well be facing a big bill to get it fixed.
Keep your website safe and secure
"WordPress hacked again!"
How many times have you seen that headline?
Hopefully that's the only reason you know that WordPress can be hacked, and you haven't actually experienced it yourself.
It's also the main reason I hear for people refusing to use WordPress, but to be honest, any website can be hacked. NASA, NATO, Tesco, TalkTalk, they've all been high profile victims, and none of them use WordPress.
So why does WordPress get hacked so often?
- WordPress is popular
WordPress powers something like 25% of the world's websites, so once a hacker finds one backdoor, he stands a very good chance of being able to use the same vulnerability on millions of other sites
- Out of date software
This is the WordPress core files, plugins, themes and php I was talking about above.
There are lots of reasons why new releases are published, including fixing bugs and providing new features, but the main reason is plugging security loopholes used by hackers.
- No firewall or antivirus on your site
You need firewall and antivirus on your site in the same way that you do on your computer. Most hosts will supply a free version as part of your hosting subscription, but did you know that the firewall doesn't surround your site? It actually surrounds the bit of the cloud that you share with all those other hundreds of sites who use the same host. That means that if a hacker gets access to another site on your shared space, he can easily make his way into your site.
If you take out a WordPress maintenance plan, it should come with regular software updates and firewall and antivirus installed.
Do you need backups of your website?
Do you know if your website is regularly backed up?
How can you tell?
With any luck your website will have a backup plugin installed that will be storing backups to an area that isn't on your hosting.
If it hasn't, you should check with your host to see if they back it up. Some hosts do it as part of your hosting package, some charge extra, but whatever they do you MUST make sure that the backups are stored in a completely different place to your live website.
Why do you need off-site backups?
Here's a true story to illustrate my point better.
In 2014 one of the UK's biggest hosts suffered a major power outage at their datacentre in Leeds which resulted in the corruption and failure of hundreds of websites. But what made this so bad was that it soon became apparent that they had been storing the website backups in the same data center. This meant that many hundreds of website owners lost their sites completely and had to start from scratch.
A good WordPress care plan will make sure that you get frequent backups, and that they're stored well away from the host, so that you can rest assured that if disaster strikes you can get your website back in a matter of minutes.
Well unless you're sitting watching it for 24 hours a day, you can't.
No matter how well you look after your site, outages happen. Your host should have a service level agreement that specifies what level of uptime you should be getting (usually 98-99%), and if that's breached you should be entitled to financial compensation.
A good WordPress website support plan will provide what's called 'uptime monitoring'. This is just a technical way of saying that your website will be regularly checked to see if it's still running. How frequently that check happens depends on what sort of website you have. If you have an eCommerce site with high volumes of sales throughout the day, then it should happen at least hourly. Other sites would typically be checked just once or twice a day.
And if you can be sure that your website is up and running 24 hours a day, then you can relax knowing that it's working hard generating sales for you while you sleep.
Content management, marketing and strategy
WordPress is one of the best content management systems around (which is why it's so popular), but I know so many website owners who get a beautiful site built only to realise that they don't have the time to keep it up to date, or to fully leverage its blogging power to get the sales that they need.
With a Jackdaw Web Design maintenance package, you also get content management, from a few minutes per month (enough to update your contact details or change your team photo), right up to a full content marketing plan and strategy, drawn up for you by Lesley Renwick of Uberella Media.
So that's what a care plan does for you. And with a Jackdaw Web Design WordPress Care Package, you can sleep easy knowing that I'll worry about your website so you don't have to.