The cost of website maintenance should be factored into every annual budget. Some costs are associated with technology, while others are associated with marketing. A maintenance plan, regardless of the breakdown, will save businesses and organizations money in the long run.
Consider your car. What would happen if you refused to pay for oil changes? It will function normally for some time. The engine will then seize, and the cost of deferred maintenance – and then some – will be conveniently itemized on the mechanic’s bill.
What should the cost of website maintenance be? The cost of maintenance varies depending on the technology and size of the site, but all sites require a maintenance plan and budget.
That strategy is influenced in part by the site’s category:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) (SAAS) – Websites built on these platforms pay a monthly fee to use the tools. Everything is contained in a single package. Examples include Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. These are ideal for small, introductory websites.
- Open Source – These platforms include a core tool for website management. The owner adds features to the website by installing applications, just like you would on your phone. Anyone can create an app, thus the term “open source.” Examples include WordPress, Drupal, and DotNetNuke. These are ideal for small to medium-sized websites.
- Enterprise – The most robust platforms include all the bells and whistles and are capable of handling massive amounts of data. These licensed platforms are built on highly stable environments and can be tailored to each company’s specific needs. Examples include Titan CMS, Sitecore, and Kentico. These are ideal for medium- to large-scale websites.
- (Full disclosure: Northwoods creates websites using the open source WordPress and the enterprise Titan CMS.)
Building a website on a SAAS or open source platform is often less expensive in the short term but requires more maintenance in the long run. Enterprise platforms are more expensive in the beginning, but they are much more stable and require less maintenance. As a result, combining them to calculate an industry-wide average cost to maintain a website can be misleading.
Top Website Upkeep Costs
Creating an annual and monthly website maintenance plan will save your company money in the long run. The following elements make up the majority of the industry average website maintenance cost when taken together.
Businesses and organizations should never skimp on hosting. Better, more secure hosts charge a higher fee for their services, but they earn every penny. If you pay a host $5 per month, be prepared for unnecessary headaches. Instead, look for host providers who are proactive in recommending updates, have excellent uptime statistics, and provide excellent support.
Your IT Director may advise you to host on-premises, that is, on a server that you purchase and maintain. In-house hosting environments, we’ve discovered, are rarely kept up to date. Updating server security and speed necessitates a significant amount of time and money. Such details should be handled by a professional host. You’ll get a better night’s sleep.
Average Monthly Hosting Costs:
The cost of hosting is affected by your platform.
SAAS – The monthly fee for tool access includes hosting. Check out annual payment plans for cost savings, as they sometimes offer discounts for fees paid in advance.
Open Source – In the open source category, we see a lot of issues caused by cheap hosting. Based on our research and experience, we believe that hosting an open source platform should start around $30 per month.
Larger platforms require more stable and secure environments. Hosting typically starts around $100 per month for a shared hosting environment and can quickly escalate depending on the need. Dedicated hosting environments can run into the thousands of dollars per month.
Updates to Website Technology
Your website’s technology must be updated on a regular basis. Because the cost is factored into the recurring fee, SAAS platforms are updated on a regular basis. Because of the many pieces that must be patched together to make the website work, open source platforms necessitate monthly update vigilance. Enterprise platforms are typically updated on a yearly basis.
It is critical to know your developer when selecting a content management system and other applications to run features on your website. How frequently does the developer issue updates? Do they offer assistance? How stable is the developer as a company? A platform or application that falls behind in terms of technology and security will be not only inconvenient, but also dangerous.
It is in your best interests to hire a professional to manage technology updates. These vendors live and breathe technology changes and are the best at keeping your technology up to date in a timely and accurate manner.
WordPress, for example, released version 5.0, which included an entirely new content management tool called Gutenberg. Businesses that updated their websites without understanding – or, in some cases, without awareness – of this major feature change experienced significant problems with their website designs. The new feature, which is incompatible with all WordPress themes, has caused quite a stir among website developers.
Take your time vetting and hiring a vendor to maintain the technology on your website. Because open source platforms appear to be relatively simple, they are frequently “supported” by individuals with limited expertise. Some of these individuals provide support agreements for extremely low fees and promise unlimited services. RUN if you come across a support agreement like this! Although the provider may have good intentions, the business model is impractical. The majority of these providers go out of business or simply vanish, leaving your website unsupported.
In general, enterprise platforms require less ongoing maintenance than open source platforms. These tools frequently adhere to an update schedule that occurs a few times per year in order to update security, add functionality, and optimize the code.
Costs of Website Technology Updates on Average
The cost is affected by the platform you use:
SAAS – The cost of updates is included in the monthly fee. Make sure to account for annual cost increases.
Open Source – Monthly maintenance is required, preferably by a third-party vendor. The monthly fee can range from $100 to $500 depending on the number of applications required to run the website.
Enterprise – A good rule of thumb is to set aside 20% of the original build cost for upgrades each year. The cost can be in the thousands of dollars, depending on the distance between your platform and the most recent version.
Updates to the Content
Consistently adding new, optimized content to your website is the least expensive website maintenance best practice. This should be a daily occurrence for some. For others, less frequently is sufficient. Your level of effort should be determined by the level of digital competition in your industry.
Set aside a certain amount of time each month to make consistent, strategic changes to your website content and share it. This improves search engine optimization (SEO) and provides users with a compelling reason to return to your website. The more frequently users visit, the more likely they are to become customers or brand evangelists.
Establish a weekly hours budget to spend on content if your industry is highly competitive online (e.g., a restaurant or a law firm). Consistency is your friend when it comes to meeting visitor expectations and becoming more efficient with content production over time.
If your industry is less competitive online (e.g., manufacturing), the number of hours spent on content may be a monthly factor to consider. Make no assumptions, regardless of industry. Investigate and comprehend your competitive digital landscape.
Content creation can appear to be a difficult task. Not everyone is a good writer or has the time to write. A content vendor can be a worthwhile investment if the return is substantial. On average, most vendors can migrate and optimize your existing content in about an hour per webpage.
A vendor must conduct interviews, research, write, edit, and optimize content for each webpage when creating content from scratch. Production time varies depending on the nature and length of the content, but figure on four hours per item on average.
Vendors typically charge by the hour. Generally, the less experienced the writer, the lower the cost. If you rely on a vendor on a monthly basis, try to lock in a fixed price to avoid unexpected costs.
The average cost of content maintenance is your time (what is that worth?) or $100 to $800 per webpage for a vendor.
Be wise and safeguard the investment you’ve made in your website. After all, your website is frequently your potential customer’s first point of contact with your company or organization. Creating and implementing a website maintenance plan will save you money, allowing your site to generate revenue.
Not sure where to begin? We can assist you. Please contact us.