But that doesn’t mean that you should let your WordPress updates pile up (they’re at a ridic 14 right now… busted!) or your website get hacked during the first day of your first course (yep, this happened to a graphic designer while I took her branding course last month). Ack!
Regardless of whether you wanna offer website maintenance as a service — and even if you wanna hire out your own maintenance to a developer! — there are a few things you should know as a designer, so you can either DIY or make sure your developer is doing her job.
Plus, there are things you absolutely should know how to do if you work on client sites.
So let’s cover website maintenance (and web design) fundamentals for you, designer extraordinaire, to have in mind for your website and your clients’.
Backups & migrations
Benefits to getting off your butt and getting backups set up and automated:
- You’ll have backups
Downside of not having backups:
- You won’t have backups
But seriously, without ‘em you’re screwed. I don’t care how many guardian angels you have, if you have Jupiter in your 12th house, or any other woo woo or non-woo woo things you may believe — you need backups.
Pro tip: Use ‘em to migrate websites between hosts and testing environments. You can use a tool like the Backup Buddy plugin for WordPress to speed things up — sure beats wasting half a day downloading/uploading tens of thousands of files via Filezilla!
Working on client sites on your own server (a.k.a. test sites)
If you design websites, doing ‘em on your own server instead of your clients’ serves a few functions:
- You look pro(fesh). Win!
- You get to use your own sweet, faster hosting provider as opposed to Dreamhost, GoDaddy, or any other godawful hosts some of our clients use. Win again!
- You make sure you get paid, because you ain’t deliverin’ no website ‘til you get your damn payment. Super win!
Pro tip: Create subdomains on your server, one for each client site you gotta work on simultaneously. Set up your test sites, one per subdomain. Boom.
Keeping your site in tip top shape
Here’s where those 14 updates you still haven’t done come in. This is what can happen when you don’t do them:
- Outdated software can conflict with new software when you add a new theme and plugin or even update WordPress itself. A virtual explosion ensues (things move around on the page, your website breaks, etc. and you proceed to make a margarita at 10 am on a Tuesday).
- Security holes in WordPress, themes, and plugins don’t get patched up. Meanwhile, hackers know they’re there. (You can guess what happens next. Hint: it happened to the designer I mentioned earlier!)
This is what’ll happen when you do do your updates:
- Things will work. An updated website is a happy website! Like a puppy with a new toy. Awww.
- All is secure = peace o’ mind for you, sister.
Pro tip: do them in a safe testing environment, a.k.a. a test site, in case an update causes a problem and you need to troubleshoot. (One of the downfalls of WordPress, eh?) Just set up a separate subdomain to use for your own site. Pssst… this is where you should do your clients’ updates if you start offering website maintenance as a service.
Pro tip #2: do all of your client site updates before delivering the finished website to them. (And mention it to let ‘em know you’re taking extra good care of them!)
While mayhap not the most exhilarating tasks in the website world, these website maintenance basics will save your ass from a nervous breakdown and are virtually guaranteed to save you many thousands of dollars throughout the years. Just sayin’.
Want to learn more? Check out DIY Website Maintenance!
Natalia Real, a.k.a. Website Superhero, helps world-changers get more clients and make more moolah by designing & developing excellent websites for them. When not wearing her cape, Nat enjoys taking walks in the sunshine with her pup, sampling beers on her European travels, and Netflix marathons.