Building a website is a failsafe way to build an audience and keep existing customers up to date with your business. Creating your site is just the beginning, though – maintenance is even more important than an initial impression.
If your website fails to meet consumer expectations, you will lose business from even the most dedicated audience. Investing in website support ensures you do not fall victim to such hazards.
What is website support?
A business website is like a car. Some websites are the equivalent of a Ferrari – sleek, speedy, high-performing, and high maintenance. Others are more like a Volvo – reliable, comparatively basic, and sure to meet the average consumer’s needs.
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Both cars have their place in the world. Equally, though, both will need to undergo an annual MOT and regular servicing to remain roadworthy. A website is the same. While your online presence may be cutting edge when created, the world of tech moves quickly. If you do not make an effort to renew and refresh your website constantly, you will soon be left choking on the dust of your competitors.
To stretch this analogy to the breaking point, bringing in website support is the equivalent of having a vehicle mechanic on retainer. Website support ensures that your online presence remains active, meeting the needs of your client base and keeping your business at the apex of your industry. Whether you utilise a third-party agency or web expert, always ensure that problems with your website can be immediately resolved.
Is website support the same as IT support?
Website support is akin to an insurance policy for your online presence. Just because you take out one insurance policy, though, it doesn’t mean you can ignore others. It’s highly advisable to seek IT support services to complement website support.
IT support will cover any issue that does not directly relate to the health and performance of your website. The server that hosts your website, for example, may not be protected by website support – that often falls under the IT banner. Equally, if the email account linked to the contact us page on your website experiences issues, you’ll need IT support to get it back up and running.
What are the business arguments for having website support in place?
One business argument surely trumps all others when it comes to website support – protecting revenue. Yes, you’ll need to pay for website support, either in the form of a salaried team member or an external agency. Just be aware that the costs of potentially losing business through an underperforming or unavailable website will dwarf your investment. This is especially important if you’re running an ecommerce site, where every issue your website experiences is a potential lost sale.
What types of website support are available?
Website support comes in many forms. Here are ten of the most common forms of website support.
Backing up and retaining files
It’s often claimed that everything on the internet is permanent, but that is not necessarily true. If you fail to back up the content hosted on your website, such as blog posts and infographics, you risk losing them in the event of code corrupting and a web page falling.
This makes backup and storage an essential part of website support. Of course, you should also keep copies of everything you create in-house, ideally on a hard drive in addition to using the cloud. However, by backing up a website, you’ll also keep the complete site in place. This makes replacing lost content much faster and simpler.
HTML may be considered a comparatively basic coding language, but that only applies if you’re fluent. It’s often claimed that English is a simple language, but that will be of little comfort to a Spanish speaker that does not hablas Ingles.
For example, if you’re not a coder, do you know the difference between HTML and HTML 5? If somebody asks if your site is written using Kotlin or Java, would you know the answer? A skilled website support provider will, which is one of many reasons why it’s such a critical skill.
If you’re lucky (or just plain smart!), you’ll fill your website with evergreen content that retains relevance for many years. Even if this is the case, though, users want to see regular updates for a website. A blog posted in 2018 will not attract as much trust or traffic as one published in 2021. Part of a website support offering should involve updating and refreshing content, even if outright new material is not essential or desirable.
The visuals of your website are a key component of your corporate brand identity, which means they must be consistent. Part of the role of website support is ensuring uniformity between different browsers – regularly updating the design to match the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, et al. – and making sure that mobile users do not suffer an inferior website experience.
Successful backlinks, most notably link building, are indispensable components of website maintenance. Alas, it can be exhausting and time-consuming to track down broken links and identify potential new leads. A skilled website support provider can take care of this on your behalf.
We compared website maintenance to caring for a car at the top of this guide, and it’s a point that merits repeating here. Just as a regular service at a garage keeps on top of any issues with your vehicle, website maintenance involves reviewing key analytics and troubleshooting potential problems before they arise. A regular website audit is a must, and such a task is best left to professionals.
First-party data can be a bona fide goldmine for any website, arguably providing the greatest opportunity for any business to generate income based on building a customer profile. 21st century consumers are careful, though, guarding their privacy carefully.
If you’re going to convince users to hand over any kind of personal data, you’ll need to reassure them that you can keep their information safe. That means keeping your website secure, remaining on top of the latest precautions that stave off potential hackers and identity thieves. Website support specialists will be able to achieve this.
SEO, like all aspects of the digital landscape, is a moving feast. You should always enlist the services of an external SEO agency to ensure that your campaigns match up to the latest trends.
Website support providers can assist with this, to an extent. Your support team may be able to identify underperforming or outdated keywords, for example, and will notice any drastic change to traffic following a Google algorithm update. These insights can be invaluable.
The online world moves fast. If you take your eye off the ball, you risk missing a software update. This can be lethal to the performance of a website.
Imagine that you’re an iPhone user, and you are running an OS that’s two or three generations behind the latest update. In such an instance, apps will cease working, and your phone will not perform as you expect.
The same happens to a website that skips or misses software updates. Plug-ins, features, and all manner of bells and whistles will swiftly see a downturn in performance – and your traffic will plummet just as quickly.
Arguably the most crucial aspect of website support is keeping your online address as fast as possible. When it comes to the internet, a lack of speed kills traffic and conversions. If it takes longer than three seconds for all content on a page to load, you’ll likely lose your audience – and only the most patient is willing to wait thatlong.
Website support providers will keep a constant eye on the loading speed of your website and its most popular pages. If necessary, adjustments can be made to increase the speed at which these pages load, ensuring that your business does not earn an unwelcome reputation as an internet slowpoke.
External website support vs employing a team
Web support could be handled by an in-house team on your payroll or an external resource. Creative.onl will be delighted to offer a no-obligation quote if you want to get in touch. Both approaches have benefits and drawbacks, as summarised by this table.
|In-house website support||External website support|
|Website emergencies that arise during working hours can be immediately addressed||You’ll need to contact your agency or provider and wait for them to deal with the website problem|
|Website support may be limited to working hours. If the website starts directing customers to a broken link, for example, you will unlikely have the chance to fix it until the morning||Depending upon the contract you have, and where the external website provider is located, you may be provided with 24/7 assistance|
|Dedicated staff members will manage your website. Ideal when they’re available, potentially problematic if the staff member is sick or on holiday||An agency will likely always have somebody available to help manage any website problem, thanks to a wider staffing team|
|You’ll have complete control over expenses, largely revolving around salary||Expenses may vary depending on what services you require – you can typically add or remove features according to your needs|
|Your website support needs can be added to an existing IT department||You’ll likely need separate IT support – whether from the same or another party|
Review these pros and cons and decide what you think would benefit your business most in terms of website support.
Where to find website support?
As you may expect, the internet is home to countless third-party website support providers. These primarily come under three categories.
- Agencies and businesses that provide support services for a fee, offering you a fixed port of contact
- Individuals – usually freelancers or contractors – that will offer to maintain your website
- Online-only services that are typically unmanned and automated
We strongly recommend enlisting the services of an agency if you opt against managing your website support in-house. This will ensure that all your needs will be met, minimising the risk of prolonged website issues.
Questions to ask your shortlist of website support providers
Once you have identified a range of potential website support providers, you’ll need to interview them. How you go about this is a matter of personal choice – you’ll likely have your own priorities. Some possible core questions to ask, however, include:
- Based on an initial review, what areas of your website most need enhancement? How will these improvements be made?
- What services will the website support provider offer?
- What hours will the website support provider work? Will they outsource overseas to ensure 24-hour coverage? What are the cost implications of this?
- How proactive is the website support provider? Will they resolve issues when they arise – and if so, how quickly? Better yet, will they perform regular maintenance to prevent these problems from rearing their heads?
- How will your website support provider keep up with changing demands in your industry and client base?
- How involved will you need to be in the maintenance of your website? Will your provider take the lead, or will they be looking for your assistance and guidance throughout?
How much should website support cost?
There is no set price for website support, as there are so many factors at play that will influence an asking price. The biggest of these is the complexity of the support package.
A business that is looking for aid with SEO and an inbound content marketing strategy, for example, will pay much more than a company seeking to ensure that consumer data is kept secure and eCommerce purchases complete rapidly and without fuss.
Focus on identifying the ideal website provider for you, then talk finance. You’ll undoubtedly have a budget in mind for website maintenance, so stick to this, and discuss your needs with potential assistants. You’ll likely agree on a website support package that benefits everybody. Of course, you’re welcome to contact us if you’d like to begin your search with Creative.onl!