The true cost of all website maintenance.
Typically, the least-understood aspect of building any website, e-commerce store front or web application is the task of maintenance. (Okay, perhaps that’s not entirely true: how long it’s going to take and how much it’s going to cost are probably the least understood.) Anyhoo, at their best, estimates are based on how similar web projects were completed. At their worst, they’re numbers pulled from someone’s ass.
Like the excitement of planning a wedding, launching your new website gets the company executives all fired up. But the reality is that marriages are maintained in the day to day. So are Lamborghinis, websites and custom web applications. It’s not a matter of if you’ll need to maintain the thing, it’s “when?”, “how often?” and “how much will it wind up costing in the long run?”
Maintenance is underrated. Period.
And it’s not glamorous, but necessary. If you ignore that fact, you’ll likely find yourself in the same pickle I was in with my Ford Explorer. I used to joke about buying a new truck…one freakin’ part at a time. It seemed like every other week I found myself listening to a mechanic, nodding my head and pretending to know the difference between a spark plug and a Ford flux capacitor (while digging deeper into my wallet). Pretty soon, it felt more like I was driving Jed Clampett’s truck instead of something exciting, shiny and/or new. Same thing happens when people start throwing money at their always-inevitable web maintenance: “Look, just hurry and just fix this damn thing before any more damage is done!”
Unfortunately, most web maintenance isn’t handled pro-actively.
If you wait until something goes wrong (and it always does) to think about site-fixing, you’ve already missed the “fewer headaches” boat. Whether re-designing your website or building a from-scratch custom web app, how it’s built is way more important than its final price.
Hopefully you understand the benefits of building your site within a content management system like WordPress or Drupal. Similarly, developing your e-commerce store within an easy-to-maintain tool like BigCommerce, Shopify or Magento is a smarter way to go. These content management systems make maintenance simpler and cheaper; while opting for static html and custom-built apps (rather than using an already-existing similar solution) will wind up costing way more over the long haul.
Why being short-sighted is so painful.
Even if you can initially get online at a cheaper rate, you’re likely to find yourself up you-know-what creek when you need to stay online with updated content. Recently, one of TFG’s clients had to painfully port their store from GoDaddy (and everyone booed) to BigCommerce because simple product updates were such a headache. While they seemingly saved some dough by cheaply getting their store up and running, the old “Cheap, fast or good – pick two” definitely came back to bite them in the ass. No fault of theirs…they simply believed GoDaddy’s hype and didn’t realize that maintenance can wind up being many times more costly than the initial investment.
Like death and taxes, website changes are inevitable…so make sure you’re prepared.
It’s critical to pre-plan now for the changes you’ll make to your website later. (Notice there’s no “if” in my previous sentence.) Despite my boyish appearance, I’ve been doing this for almost 12 years – and can count on zero (0) fingers how many sites I’ve created that required absolutely NO changes down the road. Like a maintenance-free car, a “set it and forget it” relationship or a two-headed singing unicorn, it just doesn’t exist. And it never will.
Have questions about maintaining your website(s)? Thinking of building a custom web application but unsure about its total cost of ownership (including maintenance)? Let’s talk. Remember: Maintenance isn’t a dirty word – unless it’s unplanned, expensive or has anything to do with Ford flux capacitors.