In-house or outsourced? That’s one of the age-old questions facing website owners who are invested in the success of their digital presence. While maintaining your website yourself or through in-house staff may seem ideal, there are several reasons why an outsourced solution may make more sense – and lead to better results.
This is especially true in an imperfect world where businesses are pressured on multiple fronts. A web developer-managed maintenance plan can help you stay lean, focused, and give you access to resources you may not otherwise have.
What Does Website Maintenance Involve?
First of all, let’s take a look at why maintaining your website is so important and what it involves. Not only should this show why it’s essential to have some professional looking after the health of your website, but it should also help you ultimately decide whether to go the in-house or web developer-managed route.
Monitoring and Ensuring Uptime
Downtime can be hugely damaging for your online presence. Not only does it interrupt service delivery and frustrate your visitors, but it can cost you real business opportunities and even affect your SEO rankings.
It goes without saying that detecting downtime and restoring service ASAP is extremely important.
Professional developers often use automated tools that monitor your website for downtime and alert administrators so they can take action. Usually, downtime is a result of problems with your hosting provider or ISP. In this case, there’s not much you can do but alert and pressure your service provider to restore service.
However, it might also be because of technical issues that require a professional and experienced eye to catch and address.
A professional developer can also help you avoid planned downtime by using staged environments to update your site while keeping the running version live.
Modern websites can be complex systems that use various technologies, hundreds of lines of code, etc. Even the best developers with the most dedication and experience can’t guarantee a 100% bulletproof website.
Once you start getting real-world visitors, bugs may also arise that are next to impossible to catch in development or testing.
Live bugs are not only an issue for user experience and the functioning of your website but are also a security concern. Even a CMS or website builder might experience bugs due to mismatched plugins, custom work, or coding errors in the platform or third-party add-ons.
Obviously, it takes an experienced and skilled individual to fix technical errors like these. Nevermind to then test and verify their fixes.
Many factors might not result in downtime but may slow down or negatively impact performance on your website. These range from issues with your hosting service, reaching your usage limits, DDoS attacks, coding errors, heavy traffic, wrongly configured servers, or simply unoptimized code.
CMSs and website builders are also not immune to performance issues. However, there might be less you can do to fix it due to the proprietary nature of the underlying code.
One thing that’s for sure is that it can be a challenge to figure out what exactly is affecting your website’s performance. Once again, a professional developer should have the know-how and tools to diagnose the problem, identify the issue, and propose steps to solve it.
Older technologies have had more time to be explored for weaknesses and vulnerabilities by hackers. Usually, as soon as vulnerabilities or potential exploits are discovered in software, they are patched as quickly as possible by their creators and made available in the next update.
This makes keeping the various packages you use throughout your website updated a crucial security practice.
When using a CMS like WordPress, you can update software with just a few clicks or have it update automatically. Staying updated with a custom-built website is more tricky and usually requires an experienced or skilled developer that knows about the various technologies or packages used.
In-house vs. Web Developer Managed Websites
So, now we know why it’s essential to have a plan in place to maintain your website. Next, let’s look at the differences between an in-house or outsourced website maintenance service.
At first, you might think that an in-house solution is a more affordable option. However, if you require a skilled developer, that means potentially hiring someone (or a whole team) full-time.
Web development agencies usually manage several websites on behalf of their clients. By using automated tools or by splitting their time, they don’t have to spend 100% of their time monitoring your site.
This means you can typically develop agreements where you pay for work based on an affordable monthly rate, per issue solved, or per maintenance, hours worked.
An in-house job might result in more predictable expenses, but it definitely won’t necessarily be the cheapest option in the long run.
Another thing to consider is that web development agencies typically have an entire team consisting of experts with different skill sets in various fields. If you want to maintain your website in-house, you’ll have to ensure that all the necessary skills and expertise are accounted for.
Once again, hiring multiple individuals full-time can inflate costs. However, you will also need to know the web development field to ensure you employ the right people for the right jobs and burn the time and effort to manage them. Lastly, turnover in the IT sector is high, which places an extra management/HR burden on you.
All of this is outsourced if you work with a trusted and respectful web development company.
As mentioned, professional developers also typically use a range of proprietary (or in-house) tools to help them with their maintenance tasks. If you want to pursue an in-house maintenance solution, you’ll have to acquire these tools yourself and keep paying for them.
Of course, this is one of the main reasons some want to implement an in-house maintenance solution. With an in-house team, you’ll have complete control over the direction, practices, processes, and expenses when it comes to website maintenance.
You’ll also have complete access to progress reports when an incident occurs and on the recovery process. Finally, communication should probably be faster and easier as you’ll use the same tools and company channels.
However, you have to ask yourself what this is actually worth. Even if you’re kept updated on a downtime situation, do you have the technical skills or time to help in solving it? The same goes for bugs, performance issues, etc.
The most important thing for you should be that maintenance is smooth, effective, and solved as quickly as possible. If you work with a professional web development agency from the get-go, you shouldn’t have any concerns on this front.
To sum it up, the most significant benefit of working with a professional web development team is that it frees you up to focus on your core business functions. Instead of investing considerable time and effort to reinvent the wheel, you can work with a team of skilled and diverse IT professionals committed to the success of your digital presence.
If you have more questions about what a professional maintenance solution for your website will look like, contact us at blackDot.ca to see how we can help you.