An article I read recently asks “Should You Sell Website Support or Maintenance Services?” Well, why wouldn’t a designer sell those services?
Some designers want to do only that – DESIGN. Build a site and then let it go. There are also clients who want that. Build it for me and then I’ll take care of it myself.
I have had my share of both approaches. I have also designed sites and handed them over only to have the client contact me months or a year later to ask if I would do updates. Their intention to keep the site updated didn’t work out.
There are also some companies that focus on support and maintenance services.
Why offer clients support and maintenance services? The number one reason must be that it is ongoing and so means steady income. Let’s say you charge a client $2500 to create a small restaurant website. Then you offer maintenance services at $50 an hour. If that site only requires an hour per week, you will make $2600 in the next year.
You can also offer these services to someone whose site you did not design. I have maintained sites that people already had on places like WordPress, GoDaddy, Squarespace, and Zenfolio that they either didn’t know how to keep going or simply didn’t have the time or desire to update. Two of those clients eventually asked me to build them a brand new website.
Support and maintenance services, though not as interesting or creative as designing, can be lucrative. If you have a less experienced employee, support can be a good training activity before giving them their own design projects.
I recently told two potential clients that I didn’t think they needed a new website. Sounds like I am not a very good businessman.
But they didn’t need a new site. Their existing site worked for them, even though it was a few years old. They had been adding minor updates but nothing else changed. Both sites were built using a WYSIWYG site designs (Squarespace and GoDaddy) which make it pretty easy to update, but neither owner was comfortable in doing anything more involved with the sites other than minor updates without some help. One had forgotten how to access the editing tools.
Web designers and website owners learn pretty quickly that site maintenance ultimately will involve more time and work (and cost) than site creation.
What I ended up doing for them consisted of some smaller but important updates and maintenance. Here are 6 possibilities for you to consider:
- Make content changes. People don’t return to your site if it never changes. That’s what makes blogs or news updates on a site bring people back.
- A site audit of security, performance and usability can reveal some changes to be made.
- How does your site work on phones and tablets?
- Does the site have the latest versions of the software, such as plugins? There may be new themes that can give your site a fresh and significantly different look for little time or cost.
- Is it worth moving the site to a new hosting account that offers better pricing or more flexibility? can that be done with minimal work by me?
- Search engine optimization (SEO) is important but an area that has a lot of scam offers to get your site “to the top of search results.” Simple use of keywords and other page code can help, along with some advice about how to move up the results.
- Related to SEO is getting the word out via newsletters, mailing lists and social media. Are you using those things?