Recently, a care plan client of mine asked me to provide some design work for her website. When I explained that the work would be out of scope, she asked me what exactly she was paying me for every month. At first, I couldn’t believe this question. My website clearly states what all is provided as part of our care plans. Jeez lady, can’t you read? But, on further reflection, what I realized was that the fault was mine. We weren’t communicating with her (or frankly any of our clients) what we were doing.
You see, website maintenance is a bit like managing the water treatment plant. There is a lot of stuff you need to do daily, monthly, yearly, that no one ever thinks about. The only time we think about what is happening at the water treatment plant is when fresh, clean water doesn’t come out of the tap. Of course, she had no idea what we were doing. Nothing was wrong, so nothing was noticed. I pulled a report of the work that we had done in the past quarter and we had touched her website 223 times (not including requested updates or uptime scans).
But wait, Erika, isn’t hosting enough? Why do I need a care plan?
The pushback we get regularly on care plans is: why? Why should I spend money on a care plan when I could just get hosting? It is a fair question; plenty of websites are simply hosted and not actively maintained. And that works fine…until it doesn’t.
A good website care plan will include a bunch of things besides hosting (hell, it might not even include hosting). It will include updating plugins, website backup, uptime monitoring, security scans, and additional support. Like water plant maintenance, this is the stuff that really doesn’t matter, until it really does matter.
Is it really important that your site’s plugins are updated? Well, I suppose you could make an argument that it isn’t until one of your plugins develops a security breach that a practicing young hacker exploits to take over your website. Why have dedicated security scans or uptime monitors? Imagine having a great conversation with a potential client. In the end, you hand him your business card. He is so enthusiastic about your conversation that he goes home and checks your website to read more about your business. Instead of your lovely site, he finds a random 404 page. It turns out there is a DNS server issue and no one can get to your website. So, when you call him a day later, you are shocked to find that your website has been unreachable for days.
So, bottom line, if you are a blogger who posts a few recipes from time to time to share with your relatives, then hosting alone is just fine. On the other hand, if you have a business and would be embarrassed to find out that your site had been hacked–then you need a care plan.
Have I convinced you? Do you have a WordPress website? Great, let’s get you set up.