By Corrie Oberdin • 6 March, 2014
You’ve invested time and money in the next iteration of your website, and you have a slick platform that allows you to easily edit the content of your site and start that blog your marketing team has been asking for. All you need to do now is launch your site, and the traffic will start flowing!
Not so fast, though this is where many organizations stop when it comes to their website. They may have contributors to their site content, but pay little attention to the under-the-hood maintenance that also needs to be considered and managed.
You may ask, “It’s a piece of software and it works exactly the way I want (and paid for). Why should there be any maintenance? Its not like a website can wear out, right?”
There are two answers to that question.
1 – Security Issues: The day your site launched it has the latest components used to provide its functionality. But – like your computer operating system, which needs periodic updates – your Content Management System (CMS) needs updates too. A website lives on the internet and has many pieces and parts assembled to provide its functionality. Each of the parts has the potential of inadvertently opening up a way for a site to be compromised.
There are ‘bad guys’ on the internet looking to take advantage of un-patched or outdated CMSs or plug-ins. Most of the time these guys run automated scripts that scan the internet for sites running specific CMSs, then when found check the site against known vulnerabilities. If one is discovered, these scripts may automatically take advantage the vulnerability which could equate to a whole list of possible outcomes including altering content, changing functionality, or even completely corrupting or deleting your site. These scripts can scan thousands of sites a day and if yours is found to have a vulnerability, the damage can be done in a matter of seconds and you would be none the wiser until the next time you visit your site or a client notifies “your site is not working right”. If a vulnerability is discovered in a component your site happens to be running it’s usually a matter of time before you may become a victim. No system is 100% secure but keeping your site up-to-date is one of the ways to minimizes your exposure to known security vulnerabilities.
2 – The Future: The second reason your site requires maintenance involves maintaining a current platform to build upon for the future. When you keep your site and its components current you make it easier to take advantage of new technologies, or build new/additional functionality onto your site. An up-to-date site not only has the latest security fixes but the latest implementation of their respective technologies which could include bug fixes, better/additional features and performance enhancements.
We have been commissioned to add new functionality on sites that were not kept current, and what should have been quick (inexpensive) additions turned out to be time consuming and costly due to the fact that to add in the new functionality, newer versions of components were required than were currently installed. Some components were so far out of date that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, update correctly and thus cause the site malfunctioned. This can happen when component have undergone major updates compared to previous versions. For example a component starts out as a”version 1″ and then moves to “version 2,” then “version 3,” and so on. Each version can be major update from the previous version. Upgrading between incremental versions (i.e. version 1 to version 2) usually work correctly but upgrading from version 1 to version 3 has the potential to break a site depending upon the components author. Keeping all the components current would have saved time and money.
Just like a car, websites require periodic maintenance to keep them operating in tip-top shape. Staying up-to-date helps to keep your site secure, ready for your next whiz-bang addition, and performing superb.