One of the questions I’ve been asked quite a few times since I started doing this is:
Why do I need to pay for maintenance?
So I thought it was probably time I laid out some of the answers to that question!
The first answer is – you don’t. It’s optional. At least, it is with Picture Engine. Some companies like to roll the design, hosting and ongoing maintenance into a single deal with a lower monthly payment and a minimum contract. Picture Engine doesn’t, although if someone asked about it you never know. But for now, it’s optional.
However, that doesn’t mean that doing it is optional. It just means that paying me to do it is optional. If you don’t want to pay someone else to do it, it still needs to be done and here’s why.
All of Picture Engine’s websites (and well over a third of ALL websites on the internet) are designed using Content Management Systems (CMSs), usually WordPress. And like all CMSs, WordPress is a software package that needs to be kept up to date. One of WordPress’s major problems is, paradoxically, its popularity. Because so many websites across the world are based on it, identifying a weakness in WordPress could potentially allow hackers to compromise a significant proportion of the roughly 75m websites worldwide that use on it. That means there’s a whole “black hat” industry of baddies dedicated to finding holes, and whole parallel “white hat” industry dedicated to fixing them.
WordPress is “open source” software – that means it’s updated and developed by a community of online volunteers and it’s the main reason it’s free. The community is pretty good at reacting to threats, and even pretty good at pre-emptively identifying them, releasing new updates regularly to take care of any that are uncovered. What it can’t do, however, is what Microsoft, Apple and most major phone manufacturers tend to do, and that is force users to update their software. So when the WordPress community releases an update, website managers around the world need to update their software for both the basic WordPress software and (usually) a lot of the themes and plugins that add the bells and whistles.