Has your company ever had its website hacked? Have you ever been stuck with a broken site with no one to call for support? Big design / development bills on a project you thought was already paid for can be frustrating. Here is how to avoid that:
First off, let’s get some terms out of the way in case you are reading this and have never gone down this path before.
Purchased Theme: A pre-built website template that needs some customization and design but usually little development/coding.
Hosting: A place where your website lives that is paid for monthly. This can be as cheap as $5 a month.
Managed Hosting: This is hosting of your website with an added monthly service that covers a wide range of security, updates and support related tasks.
Let’s take a trip waaaay back to the early days. Before we started this wonderful little creative company. Back when we were all freelance designers who were fresh on the scene and we didn’t have the experience that comes with making (and learning from) common industry mistakes.
One of my most hated favourite learning experiences happened during my transition from “freelancer with a day job” to “what have I done?! I quit my job and started a company”.
Over the years I had launched many-a-site on the WordPress platform. Most of which were using themes purchased for $50 online and launched on client managed hosting that typically ran the client $10 a month or so. There are two things that came from this experience:
- Purchased themes are a royal pain in the butt and are usually overkill for client’s needs with unnecessary elements that just slow the site down. The amount of time spent searching out that perfect solution will ultimately be wasted because the only perfect solution is one built for the clients needs specifically.
- Client managed hosting doesn’t exist. The client’s only management responsibility is paying the hosting bill. Any issues that coms up is ultimately pushed back on the designer/developer that built the site.
I was having clients come back to me, anywhere from 6 months to 1+ years after, with issues on their website. Problems such as:
- They couldn’t edit pages any more
- The site disappeared and was replaced by a white screen
- Things were running really slow
- They updated a plugin and now had some strange code showing up on the front end of their site
- Their site was hacked.
The interesting thing here is that no-one is accountable for these issues.
The designer launched the site handing over what he thought was a flawless execution BUT the client had not maintained the site as they should have (Because how can they? They don’t know the first thing about how to fix bugs and conflicts between theme, WordPress version and plugins).
Someone has to fix it.
The client doesn’t feel they should have to pay because they paid for this work 4 years ago and it should just function properly (I agree with this sentiment). The designer cant just work for free every time something happens on the site, especially since these issues are not in their control after launch. The issue is that the website wasn’t properly taken care of.
The outcome in this situation is one where no one is happy.
- The designer creates estimate for the work involved (work that they really don’t feel like doing because it is unscheduled and definitely not fulfilling)
- The client begrudgingly pays the bill (or continues on with a broken website).
Sometimes if the issue is a big one, such as a hack, the site has to be entirely re-built and clients are paying for a website re-build way sooner than they should be.
One of the first things I wanted to solve when Sonder was in the early stages was this problem. How do we prevent these issues, keep everyone compensated and in the end and spread this cost out, saving the client money.
It isn’t a new idea, but our version of it is unique and has been working quite well.
We realized just how good this was working when we happened upon a client review deep in an email chain. The review (or I guess recommendation) was actually just a client genuinely recommending our services to a friend and it warmed our hearts to see that someone picked up on what it was that we were doing! We were adding value!
I thought I would share the email review here because it accurately describes this concept and it’s benefits. I couldn’t have said it better myself. The email is pretty much copy and paste with a few edits to terminology and praise that was maybe giving us a little too much credit (ie: “they have the best solution in the world”.. it’s probably not, but it certainly is great).
Whenever someone mentions they are looking to build a brand or launch a website I jump at the opportunity to recommend Sonder Creative. They are one of those rare service providers where every time I get an invoice from them I feel, “this is such a great value for this service.”
They have done a great job vetting all of the platforms one might explore when setting up a website for a new business. The combination of tools they have curated is absolutely stunning. In terms of getting a brand set up, they have a clear and ironed out process. They do a great job of transitioning that brand online and setting you up with a robust and intuitive user interface for updating web content and layout.
They focus on the tools a small group might need to successfully run their website and manage their brand, without all the confusion and clutter that is usually involved.
2. HOSTING & SECURITY
Their strategy is brilliant. They have their own hosting environment specially tuned for WordPress and only build websites for clients who use their platform. So all of their sites have familiar and manageable infrastructure. This means they can be responsive if issues arise and can quickly turn around a high end product. They are very selective and consistent with the plug-ins used across those websites. This ensures that if compatibility problems come up, they are easy to track down and solve. It also makes it very cost effective for them to update the plugins and the wordpress version every month.
We’ve been hacked a few times. It’s a nightmare. Often it’s cheaper to just build a whole new website than try to debug the hack. With Sonder Creative’s hosting, they are able to mitigate these issues. Even with the tightest security, hacks can happen, but their process ensures that if this does happen it is easily solved and will not impact your business. They keep your website clean at no additional cost to the hosting. Huge value.
The Sonder team has a great, clean, aesthetic and their process is straightforward and efficient. All of the design & branding we have worked on with them has turned out great and they have continued to be affordable and responsive.
As you can tell, I’m enthusiastic about their service. 😉
Our goal is to make all our clients as excited about our value as the above client. It is why we created this service. It allows us to protect the work we have spent so much time on and ensure the people we work with that none of the efforts put in will be squandered to an unmanaged, unprotected, website.
We aim to help mitigate these issues by being responsible service providers.
As web designers, we are in the business of building relationships. Your website is a ‘relationship facilitator’. Your relationships with clients will break down if the main facilitator is not functioning properly. Also, it is difficult for US to maintain good relationships with our clients when a they do not feel like their project was respected or taken care of.
If you are in a position where your business is suffering from any of the previously mentioned problems, or better yet if you want to be proactive and ensure that you never have to experience these headaches, let’s chat. Getting your site built on a managed platform is probably easier and more affordable than you might think.