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Why WordPress Users Need A Maintenance Plan

Wise Business Starts with Wise Website Management

In today’s world, your business web presence is virtually as important as your physical presence, and your website serves as a formal representation, there of. After some research you decide to use WordPress Content Management System, like millions of other business owners and bloggers.

WordPress is the most popular website content management system in the world and is used by major brands and bloggers alike. WordPress is used by 33.6 percent of all websites, and accounts for roughly 60 percent of all sites with a known content management System platform.

However, setting up a WordPress website is not a “set it and forget it” proposition. If you’re using WordPress as the content management platform for your website, it is imperative that you have WordPress maintenance plan to support it.

WordPress is relatively easy to set up, with many customizable options, plugins, themes, and other appealing choices. This makes WordPress a popular platform for both do-it-yourselfers and advanced web developers alike.

With over 50,000 plugins, and thousands of theme choices, WordPress is well suited to meet the needs of diverse organizations and use case scenarios – from small businesses, to nonprofits, membership associations, startups, and major corporations.

Once properly setup and configured, WordPress is relatively easy to use as a web publishing platform, which is a benefit for business owners and marketing/communications professionals who want to efficiently publish web content without having to know a lot about the technology behind the scenes. WordPress also does a good job of allowing user management with different levels of permissions, and keeping a version history of published content, both of which make it easy to maintain control over who can access important site functions, and rolling back changes in a pinch.

WordPress is also so widely supported that it tends to work well with many other 3rd party tools, and if you need to find professional help for development or maintenance, you can find it.

WordPress has evolved into the web’s most popular content management system platform. However, this popularity also means that WordPress website owners need to be extra vigilant in maintaining their site in order to keep it functioning properly.
Why A WordPress Maintenance Plan?

Despite its simplicity and ease of use, under the hood WordPress is a sophisticated database-driven system with lots of underlying source code. The reality is that WordPress requires consistent maintenance to remain stable, secure, and in good working order, like any other software.

Due to being a highly popular platform, WordPress is a common target for hackers, viruses, and bots.

Fortunately, protecting your WordPress website from the majority of these security breaches can be addressed by simply keeping your website up to date.
Keeping Your Website Current is the First Line of Defense!

WordPress routinely receives new updates, typically multiple new release updates each month, which improve the security and performance of the platform. In order to make sure that your WordPress website remains secure, your site needs consistent maintenance of the core code as well as any plugins that may be in use.

Vulnerabilities in plugins and themes often come from not updating content management system, themes, and plugins.”

By routinely updating your WordPress website and all plugins, you are ensuring that your site has the latest security patches in place, significantly reducing your vulnerability to common attacks.

Aside from security considerations, also consider that most WordPress sites utilize plugins that are produced and maintained by third party vendors. Depending on how vigilant the plugin developer is with their updates, compatibility issues can arise with each new WordPress update, which is all the more reason you need to keep both the WordPress core version current along with any plugins, and you need to perform quality assurance testing with each update to ensure that nothing breaks and that performance does not suffer in a way that will impact users.

WordPress websites can vary greatly, not only in terms of appearance, but in terms of setup and configuration. Very few professionally developed WordPress websites go live with a generic “out of the box” setup. Rather, most WordPress websites are a combination of third-party plugins, themes, and various configurations thereof. Each WordPress website is typically further customized to meet the unique needs of each organization.

While WordPress makes it very easy for general users to update basic content, such as blog posts, events, press releases, or other page content, the time will inevitably come where you’ll need the assistance of a WordPress developer. Eventually you will want to (or need to) change something that is a little more behind the scenes, such as modifying input fields on a page, or a contact form, or a customization to a theme or page template; basically anything that involves touching or creating source code.

In these cases, you will want to make sure that you have a reliable resource to make these adjustments for you, and this is where a WordPress maintenance plan can make life easier and help advance your web presence.
Waiting for a Website Emergency is Not a Plan

Preventative maintenance is your best defense to prevent any unfortunate surprises with your website and to keep it running smoothly. But even despite best efforts, unanticipated issues such as bugs, errors, and outages can arise, and when that happens you’ll want to have a reliable, dedicated resource that is ready to act on your behalf and get things up and running as quickly as possible. You do not want to find yourself in the position of waiting, or having to hunt down a new consultant or agency to help you as your website visitors encounter problems and your reputation suffers. Leaving things to chance without a plan is certainly an option, but it is not a wise one. Making sure that you have a proper support resource in place ahead of time is the only responsible choice for any decision-maker who wants to reliably protect their brand and business.
What a WordPress Maintenance Plan Should Include

A quality WordPress maintenance and support plan should minimally address the following responsibilities:

Regular updates for WordPress core version releases and plugin updates, with quality assurance testing after each update.
Troubleshooting of conflicts or errors on your site when they arise (for example when third-party tools do not work together).  
Security best practices to block potential threats before they occur, including continuous monitoring and protection against spam, malware, unauthorized logins, and other malicious attempts. This also includes properly securing your site with SSL.
Ongoing, automatic backups in case your site ever needs to be restored in the case of disaster or data loss. Ideally, you will have incremental (e.g. daily/weekly/monthly) redundant backups stored in multiple locations (e.g. a backup drive, as well as offsite cloud storage).
A properly maintained server/hosting environment with current and secure versions of Apache, PHP, and MySQL, properly configured SSL certificates, security firewall, and other best practices for server maintenance.
Performance optimization to ensure that your WordPress website is configured for optimal performance, including best practices such as page caching and image compression. After all, a fast website is not only important for users, but can also impact search performance. 
A dedicated resource who is familiar with the site, has access to all necessary administrative documentation and permissions, and who can assume responsibility for maintaining, and, if necessary, restoring the site, while also responding to on-demand needs in a timely fashion.
Finally, the plan must be proactive and provide ongoing, forward thinking guidance to protect your website and your business on an ongoing basis.

Whether you support your own WordPress site yourself, whether you have an in-house staff administrator, or use the services of an outside vendor, the key is that you have a plan to keep your website in good working order. This is the foundation for maintaining a website that is both professional and sustainable, and the peace of mind that comes with having a sound plan in place is invaluable.