What Are Support Packages and Do I Need One?
by Dave Reeder , 09 August 2021
At this stage, a lot of people may be asking the question why? This is one of our most common questions and this post will attempt to explain a lot of these reasons.
Every new website is planned to serve a purpose, some could be to act as a portfolio of work, some to market the brand to a wider audience, and some to sell online. Whatever the reason for the website, they all have one thing in common - they are all business assets that have had an investment.
This same rule of thumb applies to websites, too many times we hear the following phrases put to us;
"I don’t see any point in maintaining the website, no one will want to hack us"
"My manager doesn’t want to invest any more money on the website just now"
"We will use an employee to do it for us"
Note: There is nothing strictly wrong with the last point if that person has experience in maintaining and looking for warning signs, we fully support businesses that adopt this approach.
The issue we have with the above comments is that they are not always relative. For example, if you had a store and you could see a part of your sign was falling off, you would prepare and plan to fix it. How about if your website has a security vulnerability due to a corrupt plugin, would you see it? The answer is usually when it is too late.
Most issues that occur with websites are behind the scenes, ones that a skilled person knows what to look for and how much time it will take to fix. By the time many business owners see the problem, the impact comes as a real shock. Developers are required to restore backups, patch the problems found and minimise downtime of the website to ensure you encounter minimal loss of business and stress.
Within the past 24 months, we have encountered two of our customer websites hacked. This coincides with a trend in website hacking as per statistics obtained from Patch Stack: https://patchstack.com/website-hacking-statistics/
We have also seen a website penalised by Google due to a spam hack that lost tens of thousands of pounds in revenue by not being on page 1.
With that in mind, let’s dive in and take a look at what elements of a support or maintenance contract will benefit you as a business.
Reason 1: Bulletproof Security
This is the number one reason many customers will abandon your website and turn to a competitor. Security online has never been so important and getting it wrong can have long-term consequences that are hard to rectify.
A number of security issues are no fault of the website owner, this we know to be factual. However, customers will never see this perspective and will automatically hold you accountable. Since the introduction of GDPR and data protection laws, we have seen a steep rise in requests to audit website security. It saddens me to say that hackers are finding ingenious ways to steal data - but don’t let that deter what you can do to stay one step ahead.
What are the main reasons for security exploits in a website?
- CMS upgrades
An old version of a CMS is likely no longer supported and therefore the longer time elapsed, the greater the risk of a vulnerability.
- Weak Passwords
If I told you we still had to advise people to change their password from ‘12345’ would you believe me? That incredible statement is in fact true. Force all user accounts to be strong passwords by default that contain a mixture of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.
- Third-Party Connections
If you use a variety of software, all connected to your website to collect data, ensure you review these monthly to check there are no exploits.
Regular support takes all these concerns into consideration to give you total peace of mind they are secure as they can be. Should an instance happen where a hacker exploits a piece of ‘secure’ code, help is immediately deployed to limit damage and remove the threat.
Reason 2: Long-Term Cost-Effective
This may have you frowning and asking the question ‘how can something that costs me monthly be more effective than something that doesn’t?’. Let’s dig a little deeper to see the explanation behind this, and note, this isn’t all about security!
Poorly maintained websites have a habit of producing lists of issues when there is a core change to either the CMS itself or an application it is using. Ecommerce websites are far more vulnerable to this attack, especially if updates extend 12-18 months. By this stage, you click the button to update and find the CMS is not supportive of the update, what happens - the site ceases to operate as it should.
The subsequent cost involved for a specialist to fix the issues is generally far more expensive than 6 months worth of maintenance, imagine that!
The process should be to test and check for issues before making any changes, thus protecting the website and maintaining a problem-free journey for users to the site.
We factor in the most common issues we see within our support packages, this list has been refined and adapted over many years based on our experiences and requests.
Reason 3: Rewarded Performance
We wrote a blog post in 2019 named Why Digital Services are Important For Your Business?, in it we raised some key points of conducting business in the 21st century. The takeaway from this post is to really understand that your website is the digital face of your business.
People may not be able to speak with you in person but you can bet they will judge you by what they see and experience. Equally search engines will be judging you much the same way, they don’t know who you are or how plausible you conduct yourself in business, they will be judging on what matters most - the visitors to your website.
In a store, it may be quite difficult to throw down the red carpet for every customer that enters, welcomed with a glass of bubbly and eye-watering appetisers. In the digital world, this experience is surprisingly easy to create - ask yourself what people want when they visit your website?
Studies suggest the common denominator of what customers expect when they browse online is as follows:
- Speed - waiting around for a page to load should be a thing that was phased out with dial-up internet connections, see Google’s developer update on the importance of website speed: https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2018/07/search-ads-speed
- Direction - they want to get to their destination seamlessly
- Security - can you guarantee my data won’t be stolen
- Reputable - trust is crucial when a friendly face isn’t there to reassure
Following these steps above will result in rewarded performance by search engines and your customers alike.
Would You Consider A Support Package?
Now that all is said and done, we have given you a glimpse into the honest world we operate in and the pitfalls that catch so many business owners out. The question is; would a support package now be of value in the long-term for you?
This post isn’t a pitch to get you signing your life away or undertake any unnecessary expense. We are merely just providing some insights into real-life cases of issues we have seen and fixed for worried business owners.
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