Businesses and technologies are constantly changing. What may have been a cutting-edge website back in 1998 would look like an ancient, virus-infected relic to a modern audience. Thankfully, most long-running websites have kept up with the times to some extent and updated their designs — even though there are still a few sites out there that look like time capsules from an era gone by (we’re looking at you, Ling!).
The importance of website maintenance is something we all understand intuitively: if every business considered its work done once its initial website build was finished, then all the major companies that were early adopters of the internet would have truly ugly, outdated, unnavigable websites. In short, the internet would be a very different — and much less appealing — place.
But website maintenance isn’t just about keeping your site sleek and shiny. It’s about making sure that your site runs well under the hood: that it’s protected against new security threats, that it loads quickly, and that all updates are implemented properly.
In the same way that you wouldn’t buy a car and never bring it in for maintenance just because it was brand new when you bought it, you shouldn’t forget about your site just because the initial build is finished. Here are a few of the ways ongoing website maintenance packages support your business goals:
It Improves the User Experience
The most obvious benefit of website maintenance is an improved user experience: well-maintained sites can take advantage of new design trends, new web and browser features, and faster load speeds.
If you take a look at the design languages of sites from the late 90s or early 2000s compared to modern sites, you’ll notice a huge difference. Even though sites with outdated designs might still maintain basic functionality, it’s unlikely that visitors will want to stay on them for very long — they simply don’t provide an enjoyable UX.
But beyond surface-level aesthetics, outdated sites can be frustrating — and even dangerous. The web is constantly updating with new features that make sites run smoother and stay protected against malicious attacks. Without investing in website maintenance, your site will end up clunky, insecure, and won’t meet modern standards.
Take HTTPS, for example. Even though HTTPS has been around since 1994, its adoption was slow. It wasn’t until 2018 that Google Chrome started marking sites that didn’t use HTTPS as “Not Secure.” Visitors to sites that had failed to keep up with these changes would be greeted with a concerning message, which could cause them to lose trust in the site. For ecommerce businesses, this could directly lead to a reduction in sales, if customers turn away out of fear of giving their payment info to a vulnerable website.
Of course, staying up-to-date with the latest and greatest in technology also means that your site will run faster, and that’s a big deal for consumers. Research conducted by Google showed that 53% of visitors will leave a mobile site if it doesn’t load within three seconds. To hit those benchmarks, you’ll need to keep your site well-oiled and maintained.
It Improves SEO Performance
Fast load speeds aren’t just for the user experience — they impact your SEO (search engine optimisation) performance as well.
Starting in 2018, Google started using site load times as a ranking factor for search results. That means that, to get the highest spots on the Google SERPs (or, search engine result pages), sites need to load quickly. More recently, in August 2021, Google completed the roll out of its Page Experience update. Now, on top of pure speed, elements of UX as measured via Web Core Vitals will also influence your site’s rankings in the organic search results.
For many sites, Google search is a primary traffic source. If your site is penalised for loading slowly, you could see a significant drop in conversions and revenue.
Ensuring that your site meets modern standards entails keeping a keen eye on updates, optimisation, and more. You’ll need someone who can do work under the hood and get all the moving parts to work together and load quickly.
It Improves Paid Advertising Performance
In addition to SEO, your site’s loading speed and overall UX will also affect how well your paid advertisements perform.
To help advertisers understand how their ads stack up against other companies advertising for the same keywords, Google has created its Quality Score diagnostic tool. Alongside your ad itself, Google factors your site’s landing page experience into your quality ranking.
Of course, the same loading issues discussed earlier apply to paid ads as well. If someone clicks on your ad, but your site loads too slowly, there’s a good chance they’ll navigate away. By properly maintaining your site, you can help your ads perform at their full potential.
It Keeps Your Site Accessible to All
Accessibility is the practice of ensuring that your website is usable by everyone. In the physical world, accessibility features include elements such as wheelchair ramps, handicap spaces, and elevators. In the digital world, accessibility refers to features like alt-text, screen reader compliance, and closed captions. These features make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate your site.
One in five Australians has a disability. If you don’t ensure your website is using accessibility best practices, you could be losing out on a whopping 20% of your target audience. That can seriously hurt your revenue — after all, if someone can’t use your site, they can’t navigate the checkout process either.
In fact, failing to maintain an accessible site can land you in legal trouble as well. Recently, Domino’s lost a lawsuit filed by a blind man who alleged that the company’s site was inaccessible to him. Domino’s was ordered to cover the man’s attorney fees, pay $4,000, and update their web presences to WCAG 2.0 standards.
Beyond that, maintaining a site that complies with accessibility standards like WCAG 2.0 simply leads to a better user experience. Even if your visitors are able to use your site, if it’s difficult for them to do so, that’ll detract from their experience and could negatively impact your sales and conversions.
It Helps Meet Sustainability and CSR Goals
With climate change making its way deeper into public awareness, sustainability is on the radar more than ever. The 2020 KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting found that 96% of the world’s top 250 companies regularly report on their sustainability performance.
For companies that have corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, website maintenance can actually help support their goals. A highly optimised website consumes less energy for both you and your customers, saving money and reducing your environmental impact. Website maintenance professionals can help you identify opportunities including eco-friendly servers, carbon offsetting options, and more.
How Sitback Can Help
The right website maintenance services provider does more than just ensure your site is running smoothly — it also helps you plan for the future, making sure that you get ahead of new updates, guidelines, and regulations so that you don’t falter during the transition period.