That’s right, I said it. I might have better titled this article “The Hidden Costs of WordPress” but I’m feeling just a bit sassy today. So there you have it. Let’s find out just what I’m talking about. I’m a bit biased of course but WordPress is one of the best content management systems in the world. It’s a relatively cheap and easy way for you to build your business website and manage your content, in theory, without the help of a web developer.
The online marketing landscape is in a state of constant flux. While the cost of website projects has come down significantly from the early days of development, the cost of maintaining websites is on the rise. In the last six months Trent and I have been heavily focused on this topic. Why? Because if WordPress doesn’t get maintained properly shit gets broken and potentially even hacked. With internet security scams on the rise, the most popular content management system (yes, WordPress) is in the hot seat. We favor a WordPress specific host called Flywheel to manage hosting of our client sites. Even so, we had malware attacks on four of our sites earlier this year (one of the reasons we drill daily backups into clients). To understand the big picture here, you need to know a little bit more about the gears – and the people turning them on your WordPress websites.
WordPress is an awesome software core maintained by wicked smart folks – however, it’s always been targeted by spammers due to its overwhelming popularity, its ability to utilize post comments and the propensity of website owners ignoring software updates. New hack attacks involve folks that can actually get inside your web installation to create hidden pages promoting everything from term papers and viagra to movie downloads and gasp, porn. The real rub here is that many website owners don’t even know these pages exist or that their site has been hacked.
Hidden Cost: Getting your website un-hacked is expensive, especially if you don’t notice right away.
Themes and Plugins
You cannot live without themes and plugins for your WordPress Site. The problem with any theme or plugin is that it could allow for security vulnerabilities. Of course we have favorites that we work with all the time, and as annoying as it may be – they are favorites because they perform updates and security patches ALL THE TIME. They are pro-active, responsibly managed, and well supported. The schedule for updating plugins and themes has an ever decreasing time window. Popular plugins such as Yoast SEO, Akismet and LayerSlider offer updates every week or three. Popular and high powered WordPress themes are on the same schedule. WordPress itself has had 17 updates so far in 2015.
Hidden Cost: Keeping WordPress and its themes and plugins up-to-date
What Can You Expect?
It’s a tough job for us developers to keep all client sites up to date when updates are pushed out every few weeks. It’s also difficult to determine how much time this will take as updating is incredibly unpredictable. If your site hasn’t been updated for a year it can take several iterations and even a few white screens to get it back up to speed. Regular monthly updates tend to take about 30 minutes on average if everything is well tuned. Sometimes themes and plugins release major version changes however, and these can be more time consuming.
The Bottom Line
Maintenance is the cost of doing business with WordPress. The days of install and snooze are long gone. If you have a WordPress website and no plan for maintenance, you are playing with fire.
The Final Word is Backup
Backup is non-negotiable. It should run every day. It should offer very simple backup and restore functions. It should be tested before a failure occurs.
Hidden Cost of Not Backing Up Your WordPress Website: Failure
Don’t lose your shit with WordPress, instead be prepared, embrace the awesome tools and shine.
Do you have an older WordPress site that desperately needs updates, a mobile refresh, or even an entirely new design? Give us a call – we’ve got you covered: (970) 930-1882.