What are the chances that all 3 of these unfortunate incidents could happen to you? If you have a car, a computer and a website, at some point in time I’d say the odds are pretty good (hopefully not on the same day, let alone the same week).
Failures such as these are especially possible if you aren’t doing anything to maintain these important tools.
I think it’s safe to say that most people realize their car needs its oil changed on a regular basis. Tires should be kept properly inflated and periodically be replaced for performance and safety reasons. During an oil change, the mechanic will check a variety of things to identify items that may need maintenance. In the long run this can help to avoid future costly repairs.
CARS, COMPUTERS AND WEBSITES?
Are you wondering how car maintenance relates to computers and websites? Computers and websites need maintenance too. I’ll just say up front, we do not fix computers. Whoa – that sounded sort of defensive – not intentional. It’s just that you may be surprised to learn that our customers sometimes call us for help to repair their computers. And, since we aren’t much help (sorry), we are then asked for recommendations for a good computer repair person or network/IT specialist. As you can imagine, this usually happens in a crisis situation.
Please know, during these circumstances we feel a profound sense of empathy and concern. After many years using computers (the most important tool of our trade), we have seen our share of computer problems.
If having a good, trusting relationship with your auto mechanic is a good idea, just imagine how important it can be to have a good relationship with an IT company. (Funny, we don’t think much about this until our feet are in the fire, so to speak.)
In our experience, we have found that when you need your trusted IT company to come to the rescue, they do. Just knowing they are on their way with a solution is a big relief. On the flip side, reaching out in a crisis with no prior relationship may put you at a disadvantage from a negotiating standpoint. And, you may have to wait until established clients are served.
So, if computers are critical to your operations, we recommend creating a relationship with THE BEST IT company/person you can afford. If we know a trusted resource in your region, we’ll be glad to make a recommendation. If not, our next best suggestion: ask someone you know who is on top of these things themselves. Whoever they use may be your best bet.
Why am I bringing up this topic now, and where do failing websites fit into this triumvirate of calamities? Because, websites also need regular maintenance beyond additions and updates to content.
Consider these two real-life scenarios
1) You’re driving over a bridge and glance at your car’s GPS. The map is showing only water where you are driving. There’s no bridge! At least on the map, that is. This is because it is a newly-built bridge and your GPS software isn’t aware of it yet.
2) Your GPS directs you to drive on a bridge. The bridge is not there but is still showing on your GPS map. Again, this is because the software has not been updated.
Personally, I would rather be in situation number 1 with the bridge still physically there rather than having to hear the dreaded, “recalculating” voice of the GPS. But, that’s just me.
Much like the maps of a GPS, a website’s programming needs periodic review and updates. If a website was built more than two years ago with no review for updates in that period, it’s quite possible some of the code has become outdated or obsolete. If so, it needs an upgrade.
The hosting server (the computer where your website lives) also has software that interacts with your website. As part of the service you pay someone else to maintain, these upgrades are usually done behind the scenes on a regular basis. Although you need not worry about conducting these updates yourself, bear in mind that hosting server upgrades are sometimes significant enough that they will not mesh with programming on older websites. These upgrades can sometimes break a website or make certain functionalities stop working.
Determining whether your website meets current day security and programming protocols is the best way to keep your website running smoothly. Waiting long periods of time to make updates may require more significant, hence more costly, work to bring things up to speed.
So, like an annual physical, a dental prophy or a car maintenance, it’s a good idea to have your website checked out at least once a year.