Website aftercare

Charlotte DuffTalking to clients, colleagues and friends over the years, I have become aware that my USP – unique selling point – is that I don’t just create a website and then run away, but I stick around and can be contacted anytime you need me. So if you need some updates or additions, a website refresh, or even a complete re-brand, you simply need to get in touch and we can talk about the best way to go about it.

Existing clients will know that when they request a very minor update, I often do it as soon as I read the email. In fact a client of mine once said that she was sure I had done it before she had actually pressed SEND!

As well as your own requests for content change, there are often “bigger picture” changes or additions and improvements required, and for this reason it is good to have a web designer on-hand, much like it is nice to know a good electrician or plumber. How much regular help you require depends on whether your site was hand-built or created using WordPress, so see sections below for specifics.

But .. you should always be aware that just because I am available and checking your site regularly, it does not guarantee that your website will always be error free and completely secure. Two good analogies are having your car regularly serviced and fitting your house with door locks and alarms. Both of these are things you can do as much or as little as you like of, and both of these are things that cannot guarantee anything, even though the more you do, the better position you will be in. Unfortunately luck and circumstance always play a part .. but you can do the best you can for the business that you have and the budget you can afford.

It should always be borne in mind that if your business relies heavily on your website being up and running 24/7, you probably need a support contract with a larger company, or a dedicated member of staff, rather than someone you can contact now and again for help, especially as I am a one woman band.

WordPress websites

When I put a WordPress site live, I will agree with you the frequency with which I will check your website. This will range from the most frequent (monthly checks) up to yearly checks. The frequency we agree on will depend on how much you depend on the website, how often you log into the site yourself, your technical abilities, the time you have to spend on the site and your budget. Rest assured that I am not trying to rip you off, however I know at first hand that an unattended WordPress website can rapidly fall into chaos, so I try and get the balance right for the site, and will warn you if it isn’t.

The following is a list of the sorts of checks I do when I log into your site:

Respond to security alerts
The security scanner I install will alert me of critical problems throughout the year (e.g injected malware) , but any less critical issues will be displayed in the scan area and I will deal with them if I find any during the check. For example, a plugin might have been abandoned by WordPress as the developer is no longer working on it, or its security has been found to be flawed. In which case I will have to find a new plugin to replace the task that one was doing on the site.

Update the WordPress software and the plugins and themes
Wordpress sites are created using lots of different themes and plugins, all of which are open source software, and all of which are being developed all the time to be better and more secure (ie less vulnerable to hacking). It is essential that they are updated to the latest version to ensure that are secure and working correctly.

Perform any required reconfigurements
Sometimes software updates are substantial, and mean that the site slightly breaks and needs to be reconfigured – obviously I sort that out.

Check backups
All sites are set-up with regular automatic backups – its is important to check these mechanisms are still working.

Other advantages
A few other advantages of having me regularly logging into your site are that if you have recently asked for a minor update, I tie it in with the check and so you save money. Of course I also always have a quick look at the pages to check nothing weird has happened, and if it has I deal with it. And finally, every site gets the benefit of my increasing WordPress knowledge over the years .. by this I mean that if I fix or improve something on someone’s site, I can then go round and fix or improve it on other sites on my next visit. Plus by regularly logging into multiple sites I can often see the bigger picture .. for example something seeming to happen on all the sites at a particular host or with a particular plugin installed.

One last note about checks on WordPress websites
There are 2 circumstances in which I prefer not to do regular website checking:

1) Client has enough technical skills
Anyone involved with software will know that if more than one person is working on the site it is necessary to have a good change control system in order that the software can be maintained properly and that actions do not cause duplication, undoing or conflict.  The aftercare work I have described above is only possible if I am the sole site administrator and that you as the client are simply editing content.  I recognise that some clients might have more extensive WordPress skills and can tackle more structural work (installing plugins, themes etc), in which case I normally suggest that it is best that all aftercare and checking work is done by the client. I can still be involved if you need me, but each time you would come back to me as a new client.

2) Website isn’t being maintained regularly enough
In some cases, normally when the website is very low budget or was only needed for a short while, the website will still be up and running, but the content and looks are getting out of date. For this reason it is best that I only do checks when you specifically ask me too. I am very keen not to rip people off, and I don’t like people to be paying for my services when the website itself isn’t keeping up. As above, I can still be involved if you need me, but each time you would come back to me as a new client.

Hand-built websites

For hand-built websites, once they have been created, there is nothing much that needs to be done unless there is an internet security alert, a problem with a hosting company or a regulation change. An example of a big change over the last few years is the advent of mobile devices .. old-style websites simply had to look good on desktop computers.. now they need to respond in an orderly way to everything from small smart phones right up to large designers’ screens. More recently many clients have contacted me to talk about the new GDPR regulations.

Email and host problems

See my help and advice page

Support prices

All requests for help are charged at my usual hourly rate with a minimum block of 10 minutes for existing clients, 30 mins for new customers.

WordPress site checks take 15 mins. This is a fixed charge based on average timings, of course in practice sometimes they take me a bit longer and sometimes a bit shorter.

Can I move to another web designer?

Absolutely yes!

Sometimes I get new clients who are in the unfortunate position of having “lost” their web designer and have no access to their domain or hosting and cannot access their websites. I will never leave you in that position.

Firstly I always give clients all of the relevant passwords when I put a site live. If you have lost these details, you may request them from me anytime and you will have all that you need so that another designer can take over where I left off.

I only ask one thing.. and that is that you let me know. It is very important that you don’t have 2 different people working on the site at once in case we overwrite each other’s work or duplicate effort.