Website Maintenance – Defining the New Services Industry Segment
High performance websites need a maintenance service plan.
Websites are the central hub of communications for most companies. A proprietary website is the only place on the Internet over which you have total control of your message. Only you determine the purpose, function and content of your custom built website. The phrase “online marketing” fades away as being online is part of everyone’s daily life, work and entertainment reality. As such, the idea of “digital marketing” no longer works because websites are where brands live and breathe today. Virtually all communications technologies have gone digital.
Keep in mind that your website can serve your business in many ways beyond displaying information and generating leads. Some businesses perform multiple operations through their websites which engage customers, strategic partners and employees. Others use websites as their primary customer transaction centers as in e-commerce. We call this “Operational Integration.” As you realize all of the ways to integrate the Internet into your business operations, major advances become achievable.
With something as important to your business as the design and functionality of your Web infrastructure, you would think by this day and age a website maintenance service industry would be well defined and burgeoning. Amazingly, there is no clearly recognized website maintenance services category in the market. We know of no trade associations specifically dedicated to developing and supporting this (new) industry segment.
Your website maintenance choices are generally limited to your website designer, agency or in house staff. If it’s in house, you probably use a CMS which may limit your ability to make certain changes you want. Of course, you or your staff must dedicate time to website maintenance. If you use your designer or agency, you may wince knowing that more invoices are coming once you pick up the phone or send a change request.
Years ago we heard the clamoring for a better way to keep a substantial investment – your website – performing efficiently and delivering a solid return. We recognized this need and developed a business plan to provide the service. Having succeeded in building the service model, we now believe it’s important to develop standards and best practices for our new services industry category – website maintenance services. It will help to point out that we are not in the website design business, but practically every other web services company is.
If a client spends $10,000 – $20,000 perhaps $50-grand or more on their company’s web design & development, it should start paying for itself quickly without another thick layer of expense just to keep it relevant and performing effectively. Convenient, affordable maintenance service plans should be plentiful in the market, but they are very hard to find.
Obviously, it’s nice to be a diamond in the rough at this point, but we know there are market forces driving our niche business model toward a growing services segment. We’d like to help serve the marketplace by sharing best practices we’ve learned through patience, practice and continuous improvement of website maintenance services. We’ll begin by defining the website maintenance space using a simple analogy.
Ford Motor Company designs new cars. Other people maintain them – for a good reason!
It will help to clearly delineate Website Maintenance Service as separate and apart from Website Design & Development, so let’s expound on our analogy:
Let’s say you’ve identified your new vehicle choice by looking through auto manufacturer brochures, comparing the designs, features and options you want. You place an order which goes to the manufacturer (Ford Motor Company) and your customized vehicle arrives at your local Ford dealer. The moment you drive off the lot, you have options for maintaining your new Ford. You can use your Ford dealership service department. You can also use any other dealership service department. They all have access to replacement parts and the tools to work on your car. Of course, most new car dealerships charge top rates for service to help cover their large overhead.
Maybe your ideal auto maintenance choice is your experienced local mechanic shop. They too have access to all the tools, parts and technology to keep your Ford running sweet. They keep rates reasonable because all they do is work on cars and their overhead is much lower than a dealer’s. You appreciate knowing they’re an ASE Certified auto mechanic, being trained in current technologies and automotive best practices.
Liken a website maintenance service company to your highly skilled and experienced local mechanics. They can be your best option for almost all of your service needs.
You really can’t hire Ford Motor Company to service your new Ford. You can get pretty close by using your authorized Ford dealer, but Ford and other manufacturers are smart enough to know it’s better to have maintenance services handled locally and independently. Ford is in the business of designing and building vehicles, not operating thousands of service centers around the world!
Your marketing agency or website design firm is in the business of designing and building websites. Providing affordable maintenance services drains resources from what they’re really good at – creating and building – so many of them treat web maintenance like a “forgotten stepchild.”
Agencies and designers who offload maintenance to a trusted third party can keep their focus on better strategic marketing and design services for their clients. In fact, some of our best referral partners are marketing agencies and website design firms. The synergy of our relationships serves our mutual clients very well.
Establishing and Codifying the Website Maintenance Services Industry
Parker Web Service defines Website Maintenance as: Technical and content development services designed to monitor and maintain existing websites to keep them functioning and performing at optimal efficiency; services that perform updates and changes in five major areas: technical, operational, marketing, user-experience and Internet standards.
We have coined the acronym – TOMUS – as an easy way to remember the 5 Website Maintenance service categories:
Setting Website Maintenance Standards
Parker Web Service is primarily concerned with accountability. The first priority for Maintenance Service Providers (MSPs) is to assume responsibility for creating and delivering value for website maintenance clients. Building the model for efficiency and value in service delivery requires metrics, analytics, measurement and reporting. The first standard to set is how to hold ourselves and our colleagues accountable to results that clients can evaluate.
Gathering and Organizing Data
We’re very big on data! When you properly collect and organize relevant data, you have a dashboard that reveals accurate statistics and trends on which you take positive action. We’re also big on transparency which is why we display a simple dashboard on our website showing 3 key production data points. The stats are compiled and updated monthly so visitors can see exactly where we stand in:
- Service request turnaround time
- Year-to-date job ticket volume
- Current client satisfaction ratings
This commitment to metrics and statistical transparency holds us accountable to our clients as well as the industry and our own business goals.
To lead an industry, you need to be widely trusted by the market. To be the trusted leader, you need to continually prove your commitment to best practices and continuous improvement. Metrics, data and dashboards help chart the course and provide the roadmaps to service excellence, growth and continuous improvement.
In the coming weeks and months we’ll be publishing a number of articles that will further define and help standardize best practices in the emerging website maintenance services industry segment. It’s time is now!