I’m not sure what it is, but website maintenance is (very) often completely overlooked or ignored when companies decide to have their website redesigned. Perhaps it seems like a trivial thing? Or maybe it’s looked at as just another expense?
Whatever the reason may be, keeping your website’s CMS up to date is an important part of your overall website health. It ensures that your site is stable and running smoothly, and it helps reduce the risk of a security breach – something that could be incredibly costly that could potentially mean completely rebuilding your website.
Still not sure? Keep reading.
An out of date CMS is a security risk
While there are several reasons to keep your CMS up to date, the only one that really matters, mainly because it has very real consequences, is security. Security isn’t something that only e-commerce sites have to deal with.
No matter how small or large your site, I guarantee you that there’s a constant barrage of hackers – kiddie hackers mainly, but hackers nonetheless – trying to crack your site for data they have no business of getting their hands on. As an example, within days of launching a client’s redesigned website, I was able to see that someone or some people were trying to search for ways to get into the site and do who-knows-what with it. (Fortunately they didn't and couldn't.)
I know this will continue to happen. It’s unfortunately just a part of the world we live in now. But if you’re proactive by keeping your CMS up to date, you greatly reduce the likelihood of security breaches, viruses, malware, etc.
One important thing to note though, in case it isn’t obvious, is that keeping your CMS up to date means keeping all of it updated. That includes plugins, whether third-party or custom. Certain plugins, depending on their functionality, can present as much vulnerability as the core CMS itself. So not only do they need to be updated regularly as well, its in your best interest to make sure you’re using plugins by reputable and active developers.
To be sure, the responsibility to close any security holes falls on the CMS developer (and plugin developers). But it’s not their responsibility to implement those security fixes and patches onto your site. That’s on you.
As mentioned earlier, security is the top reason for keeping your CMS up to date. But there are other important reasons that matter.
Using security as a branching off point, a breach in your website’s CMS can result in business losses and potential online credibility. This becomes a serious consequence when you store any kind of personal data on your website, even if it isn’t an e-commerce site. The potential for legal implications is very real.
But let’s calm down a bit and go over a few less scary reasons.
Speed. Good CMS developers are constantly looking at ways to improve their software – make it leaner, have less code, make it faster. That means that some updates – those major upgrades in particular (think going from 2.0 to 3.0) – will result in your site and CMS control panel running faster.
Technical issues. This is the number one reason that CMS software gets updated in the first place. Look, even the best developers will make a mistake or miss some seemingly minor thing that down the road will cause a bug in the functionality of the CMS. Minor updates are to fix these types of things and other obscure or situation-specific bugs that may crop up.
New features or enhancements. CMS updates aren’t just about fixing things. They’re also about adding new features or making existing ones even better. This is an especially important reason to update your CMS if you’ve been hoping for specific functionality for your site that wasn’t previously available.
Staying current with your web host. While not every web host will keep your server updated with the latest version of PHP or MySQL or whatever, some do. At least they should if they expect their servers to remain secure. So when those updates happen, your site’s CMS needs to be compatible with the server upgrades.
Save time & money. Here’s the deal: CMS updates are cumulative – each new release builds upon the previous. The longer you wait to have your CMS updated, the more involved an update will be. That translates into more time and more money spent. What could cost you a couple hundred bucks per month in a maintenance plan with your web developer, could instead be thousands of dollars and longer periods of website downtime without a maintenance plan.
It’s worth it in the long run
The security aspect should be reason enough to keep your site’s CMS updated. But I also realize that you - the person reading this - may not be a developer. That’s where having a professional to perform updates at regular intervals is important. The options and prices for keeping your site well-maintained and up to date are as varied as web developers themselves. That means you’ll have to do a bit of research and talk with a few developers. As long as you find someone who is going to keep your CMS updated without prompting from you, you’ll likely be in good hands and ahead of the game. And though setting aside a budget for regular website maintenance may not be something you thought of when you set out to have your website built, it’s a smart move – one that will be well worth it over time.