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The Hidden Costs of Neglecting Regular Website Updates

Did you know, more than 70% of prospective customers research a business online before any direct interaction? Therefore, your website is more than just a representation of your business, it is your business. The option to keep your website static is rapidly disappearing as the need for regular content and technical updates is increasingly critical.

What are the consequences of not updating your website?

While it might seem like a time and cost-saving measure to leave your website as it is in the short term, it can significantly damage your site’s long-term potential and effectiveness.

In this article, we’ll explore the apparent and not-so-obvious consequences of failing to update your website, explaining why keeping your site current is not just a nice-to-have, but an absolute necessity.

Make sure you read to the end to get the detail on a special offer on our website maintenance packages.

Understanding Website Updates

What are website updates?

Website updates encompass a wide range of activities that can be carried out on your site, to ensure it remains relevant, functional, secure and servicing the needs of your visitors. These fall into four main categories:

Content Updates: This includes updating existing content on your site, or adding new pages/blog posts. Maintaining fresh content keeps your website engaging, and up-to-date with the latest developments in your business, as well as providing an opportunity to grow your audience, and therefore your client base.

Design Updates: This can involve changes to the colours, layouts, fonts and pretty much anything aesthetic about your website. As both technology and web design trends evolve, it’s important to make sure your website doesn’t look out of date and is providing a good experience for your visitors. We recommend complete website redesigns every 3-5 years to help with this – for more info you can read our helpful post: 15 Signs it may be time for a Website Redesign

Functional Updates: Most websites incorporate some sort of functionality to them, even if it’s just as simple as a contact form. It’s vital that these elements are kept up to date and regularly checked to ensure their effectiveness. On top of that, it’s also worth regularly reviewing what functionality can be added to your website to better serve your audience – blogs, e-commerce, maps, ticketing systems, chatbots are just a few examples.

Security Updates: These are essential updates designed to protect your website from a while manner of threats, including hacking and malware. There are also SSL certificates to consider, making sure that you have one and it’s up-to-date.

How often do website updates need to be performed?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this one, but we’ll break it down using the above groups to give you some rough guidance.

Content Updates: Ideally this should be as often as possible, especially when it comes to adding new content to the site. There’s not a single profession or sector that can’t grow its audience via blogging, with the added side benefit of establishing yourself as an expert in your field (good for SEO). When it comes to blogging and general updates there are a lot of differing opinions, but we’d suggest at the very minimum to be making some sort of update at least once a month. If you’re struggling for time consider looking at one of your existing pages and identifying areas where you can expand on your existing text to make it more useful for your visitors.

Design Updates: These are less frequent as it’s important to maintain consistency across your branding. However, as mentioned above, we’d recommend looking at a complete refresh every 3-5 years so you can take advantage of evolving trends and the latest technology.

Functional Updates: These are more of an as-and-when type of update, necessary when it’ll genuinely add value to your visitors. At least once a quarter, you should schedule some time to think about this, looking around at what other businesses offer as well as your competitors.

Security Updates:  Updates to the security of your website are the most critical and necessary to stay on top of.

It’s worth noting that the frequency of updates also depends on your specific business and website needs. If your business operates in a fast-paced industry where information changes frequently, you might need to update content more often. Similarly, if your website is built on a platform that frequently rolls out security updates, you’ll need to implement these quickly to keep your site secure.

Regular monitoring and analysis of your website’s performance can help you identify when updates are required and keep your site optimally maintained.

The Hidden Costs of Neglecting Website Updates

Security Risks

One of the largest threats of ignoring website updates is the lack of the most up-to-date security. Outdated systems are one of the most targeted as once a vulnerability has been found, a hacker will quickly attempt to find this hole in security across thousands of websites. This can lead to data breaches, malware infections and hacking attempts. Not only can these security incidents comprise sensitive business information and customer data, but they can also damage your business’ reputation. The costs of recovering from an attack can also be quite significant.

Decreased User Experience

A website that isn’t kept well maintained can quickly lead to a decreasing user experience. Broken links, out-of-date content and functionality that no longer works can and will lose you new clients. Added to that, if Google picks up that your visitors are quickly clicking off the site because something is wrong, there’s a fair chance you’ll start slipping down the rankings, kicking off a negative cycle.

SEO Performance

As hinted above, if your users are no longer finding your website working or providing enough value, this will be reflected in the analytics, which will in turn affect your rankings. Beyond user behaviour, you can also lose out on those coveted search engine placements if your information is out of date or no longer relevant.

Repair and Recovery Costs

If you are unfortunate enough to get attacked via hacking or malware, it can be devastating. Not only is your reputation at risk, but you can also directly lose money by not being able to obtain new clients that were trying to visit your site.

The best case scenario is that your hosting company or website maintenance company have a recent backup of your site. There may be a small admin fee, but if you spot it soon after it occurs, the site can often be rolled back, patched up, and you can carry on as you were.

However, the worst-case scenario is, well, a lot worse. If you don’t have a backup of your site you will probably lose everything that’s on there, from content you’ve spent hours researching and creating, to orders that you might not have processed yet that you’re going to have to refund.

On top of that, you’re going to have to recreate the site from scratch, which unless you can do it yourself, is likely going to incur the cost of a whole new website. You may even need to pay a surcharge for a rush job if you need it back up and running quickly.

Investing in Regular Website Updates

Protecting Your Business

Investing in regular website updates is not just about maintaining your website; it’s about safeguarding your business.

In the digital age, your website is often the first point of contact between you and your potential customers. Keeping it updated and secure instils trust in your visitors, demonstrating that you value their experience and safety.

Staying Competitive

In the fast-paced world of digital communication, regular updates help you stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive. They allow you to adapt to changes in your industry, educate and inspire your audience, and meet evolving customer needs.

Saving Money in the Long Run

While website maintenance can come at a cost, it will often work out to be much cheaper than not doing so in the long run. Stopping major issues before they occur, and enhancing your website’s overall performance and effectiveness can offer a substantial return on investment.

It can be helpful to think about website updates being a bit like servicing a car – it keeps everything ticking over nicely, avoids many big issues, and can appreciate the value over time.

Summary – The Value in Website Updates and Maintenance

While regular website updates do require an investment of time and resources, they’re an essential part of running a successful online business. By making website updates a priority and a part of your ongoing business strategy, you can avoid the hidden costs of neglecting your website and instead reap the many benefits that a well-maintained website has to offer.

At Designers Up North, we believe keeping your website maintained is incredibly important. If you’d like to have a friendly chat about any of the above get in touch on 0161 317 4270.

P.S. If you mention you’ve read this article, we’ll give you an additional 50% off your first month of our maintenance service!

Author – Matt Parker

Matt Parker - Designers Up North

Matt Parker is a web designer and SEO consultant with over 15 years of experience. He has also handled the more technical and project management aspects of Designers Up North for over 10 years.

Matt has a bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. He has been messing around with computers since he was a kid, starting on a Commodore 64 and swiftly moving on to spend too many hours on an Amiga 500!

His biggest passion is helping small businesses thrive through elegant web design, SEO strategy, and digital and print marketing. He takes great pleasure in taking complex ideas and distilling them into simple, actionable advice to move businesses forward.

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn or contact Designers Up North.