A website is the bedrock of your online presence. It’s a virtual structure that lets you showcase your business to the world. Just like a regular structure, it has to be maintained and updated.
If you are like most folks, you probably think that web design ends in creating a stunning website.
Well, that’s wrong!
It’s much more than that — you have to maintain and keep it up to date. A good web maintenance plan comprises regular backups, security against fraud, viruses, and fraudulent login attempts.
A website that is maintained and updated regularly would hold a juicy spot on search engine results pages (SERPs) and also become more profitable in the long run.
The big questions remain — who will do your website updates, how much do website updates cost, and do you pay hourly for website updates?
In this guide, you will discover answers to these questions and more.
If you are like most folks, the first question to run through your mind would be who will do the website updates?
You can opt to hire an independent web designer to do the job for you or hire a reliable web design company.
However, if you’ve got some technical skills, you can opt to do it yourself (DIY).
Small business owners may opt for the do it yourself method. This way, they get to save costs and also come up with some good quality end products.
The DIY approach is relatively straightforward — you use a Content Management System (CMS) (which is given by the host site), or you opt for open-source software (like WordPress).
Furthermore, you get to manage the overall look of your website by using low-cost themes or templates.
When everything is all set, you will create an excellent website by merely plugging in images and text.
Here’s the thing, the images primarily determine the look of a website. Therefore, to get the most out of a website, you’ve got to invest in royalty-free stock images.
You can also hire professional photographers to help you out; after all, a website is a reflection of your company.
If you have a reasonable budget, you can go for custom-built themes. These themes are usually within the $1,000 to $3,000 range.
Custom-built templates are quite different from the regular templates.
Regular templates, which are purchased online, can be customized to an extent. A good coder can navigate to the settings and perform some necessary customization.
The problem is, after the customization, it would be almost impossible to update it.
Yes, regular templates are updated regularly by the original designer. But when it is touched by a coder, updating such templates would be an issue.
All in all, you have to put these things into consideration before tweaking the features of a regular template.
Moving on, you can hire a web builder to help you with your website updates. If a web builder is not available, you can go for a webmaster.
A webmaster would be the go-to person to make updates and monitor your website. The pricing package varies, but if you are looking for a professional, your budget should be around $150 per hour. And you can get them to work on your website for 2-5 hours a month.
$150 per hour seems high for some folks. If you cannot churn out such amount, you can go for mid-level web design companies that charge $50 per hour.
Before heading out for your search, you should know the skill level and responsiveness you need. Hiring an unskillful webmaster may be one of your greatest nightmares in business.
If you manage a small website, you would probably spend roughly $100 per month. Mid-sized website owners may pay $400 to $450 per month to hire a webmaster to manage their digital assets.
Finally, you have to do your homework and make sure that the web company is reliable. If not, you may end up with a shitty web service which would cost you more in the long run.
Website updates should be part of your planning from the beginning. Ideally, the budget should stretch from web building to the regular site maintenance.
A static website translates to a stagnant business. Aside from the regular web maintenance, it would help if you did a complete overhaul of your website.
Here’s the thing; the web industry is synonymous with the fashion industry. The look and feel change rapidly. Google algorithm updates can lead to the downfall of a static website. Also, a website will become boring if there are no changes after some time.
Like leading fashion brands who make changes to their clothes, web owners should make regular updates to their websites. If not, you will risk losing business.
Regardless of your industry, a shabby looking website is not good for your business.
The cost of a website update is dependent on the functionality, size, and complexity of the website. Also, the skillset, pricing model, and background of the service provider come into play.
Your website update cost could range between tens of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per year. The web update fees boil down to the service provider you choose to hire.
Furthermore, the price range of freelance web designers is quite different from that of agencies.
Freelancers charge lower fees than agencies. Typically, agencies offer a more robust service than freelancers.
A good agency would spend more time working on the user experience, content, conversion rate optimization, and other aspects of your website.
If you are on a tight budget, you can go with freelancers. However, if you’ve got a budget for website updates, then an agency would be the best fit.
Because agencies have better resources at their disposal, agencies invest more time building an effective and powerful lead generation machine for business.
If you want a more robust work and you’ve got the budget for it, then hiring an agency would be your best shot.
Hourly rate versus fixed rate — the great pricing debate.
First off, there is no right or wrong answer here. The pricing model is mostly dependent on how you negotiate with the service provider.
A flat rate is ideal for business owners who would want to know the cost upfront. With flat rates, you get to pay a fixed fee, including any project revision and changes.
If you are not comfortable with a fixed rate, you can opt for an hourly rate.
With an hourly rate, you get to be involved in every step of the way. And to get the most out of an hourly project, you’ve got to use reliable tracking tools.
According to Salary.com, web designers charge $32 to $42 per hour. But if you are going with a flat rate, you can get a simple setup for a flat rate of $160.
It all boils down to your budget, the service provider’s pricing model, and your negotiation skills.
There is no easy answer to this, but you can lessen the decision burden by considering your financial situation, business needs, and marketing strategy.
The one-time fee could be hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars. This model works if you have in-house staff that can handle the additional issues and fixes. Also, if you are comfortable paying large sums, then go for it.
For a one-time fee, freelancers would typically invoice two or three times during the project.
Other times, the service provider may offer monthly subscription pricing. Monthly subscription may include services like maintenance, content updates, search engine optimization, and much more.
If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford to shell out a one-time fee for website changes, then opting for a monthly subscription may be the best fit.
Still not sure of the pricing structure for your business?
By merely asking the right questions, you would figure things out.
Do you have professionals who would handle the extra fixes after an update, or do you want your website to be fully managed for you?
A simple answer is no!
But you are not here for a simple answer; you want a more comprehensive and detailed explanation.
Here are the core differences between maintenance and updates.
First off, updates are a straightforward process — you click on a button and see what happens. Updates are done on the core of WordPress and plugins.
A mere click on a button!
Maintenance is entirely different. It includes basic malware scans, website monitoring for vulnerabilities, up-time monitoring, testing web functionalities after an update, theme upgrades, and tackling other minor issues.
If you are like most folks, you probably think that a sleek design translates to no website update.
Well, you are wrong!
Here are some reasons why you should update your website.
If you’ve got old reports on your website, visitors would see it as a dated site. To keep your website fresh, you have to keep publishing recent content.
If not, your business will be seen as stagnating.
A webmaster can handle small improvements like photo replacement and adding links. But if your goal is to revamp an entire section of your website, an SEO writer would be a good fit for the job. A web designer can also come in handy at some point.
Your web content should build trust. When your customers trust you, they will be engaged with your content and ultimately buy from you.
Another feature to focus on is keyword targeting. If you have more web pages that talk about your product (and services), you will be more likely to appear on search engine result pages (SERPs) when customers search for those products.
Nowadays, over 60% of all searches are done with mobile devices. And if you want to drive more mobile traffic, you should consider optimizing your website for mobile devices.
Due to the large number of searches done with mobile devices; leading search engine platforms like Google have updated their algorithms for mobile searches.
Today, web owners use responsive designs to build their websites. If your website does not display clearly on multiple devices, you should consider updating it to a fully responsive website.
Responsive web design would automatically fit into the screen size and device resolution of your customer’s device. This will, in turn, boost the user experience of your visitors.
One of the primary reasons for web hacking is the lack of security and other vulnerabilities on the framework and plugin.
If your web platform does not have a strong development community, you will likely be hacked by fraudsters. To avoid such, you have to use a secure web platform — and one of which is WordPress.
Also, you have to keep your plugins up-to-date. It would help if you were on the lookout for updates by the plugin authors. These updates are designed to fix security lapses.
Furthermore, you should carefully check the plugins installed on your website. All installed plugins should be from an experienced author, and the author should be willing to offer continuing support.
Building a stunning business is not the end game. To become more relevant in your industry, you have to go above and beyond to maintain and update your website.
Web design maintenance and updates are vital pieces of a business. It should be budgeted for and fully considered just like other aspects of your business.
A website that is fully maintained and updated would help boost your web presence, online sales, and credibility in your industry. Also, it helps save costs in the long run.
To start, you’ve got to estimate the cost for the website update, figure out the right person for the job, and come up with a payment structure.