What is maintenance?
Cars require maintenance, if you don’t maintain a car, like fixing things when they are unsafe or broken, adding coolant, adding oil, then you can break down or be involved in an accident.
If you don’t maintain a house then, you could incur greater costs from the damage that causes to your property – even loss of life due to things like failed breaks.
If you don’t maintain a gas fire, you could end up being poisoned by carbon monoxide.
Things in life wear out and break. For some things, if you don’t catch them before they break then you can incur greater costs. For example, if you don’t change your cambelt before it breaks then you can destroy your car engine.
But what about digital things?
Surely they don’t wear out and require maintenance as they aren’t physical. Nope, but everything around it changes. Just look at how technology has changed over the past 5-10 years. How we have mobile phones that now surf the web and tablet’s that do everything a computer does. In the tech world, nothing stands still. A computer from 10 years is pretty much obsolete now.
A website doesn’t exist in isolation, it’s a symphony of parts.
People are amazed at just how many parts are involved in any application.
You have the more obvious parts, WordPress, themes, plugins, custom code. These are all made up of many parts which are again made up of smaller parts. You have several languages involved like CSS, PHP, JS, HTML and various abstraction layers.
There’s your host and all it’s contributing parts. The host will have its own configuration which has thousands of options making each blend entirely unique. An application may run on one host but not on another. Think about all the millions of code contributions and tiny parts that make up a Linux platform.
You have many browsers, explorer, firefox, chrome, Safari and many smaller ones like opera.
How reliable do you think a car would be if millions of people were contributing millions of small parts to make it work? I mean physical parts not accumulated knowledge.
The web as an ecosystem
The web is an ecosystem made of organisms, all doing their own thing.
Now think of all those people who are daily trying to break that ecosystem. Let’s see them as viruses. The ecosystem has to develop immunity to that virus. It must grow and adapt to challenges. It also wants to improve itself, to do things better, more efficiently, to expel less energy.
So you can see, the ecosystem is in constant flux, it’s constantly changing. It has to, to survive and improve.
Your website or app is a living organism made up of thousands of parts. That organism depends on the ecosystem it lives in.
But where our analogy starts to differ from organisms and ecosystems is that those changes don’t happen naturally via evolution. It requires our intervention. It requires time and money.
This is why we talk about making a site/application maintainable. A maintainable site or application takes less time and money to maintain.
What happens if you don’t?
Maintenance is necessary to keep a website or application running smoothly. If things break, then revenue is lost through lost customers, loss of reputation, loss of data, outage and repairs.
If you don’t keep your website secure you can get hacked. Your site could go offlines resulting in lost reputation and revenue and you can be landed with a huge cleanup bill. Maintenance goes a long way to minimising that risk.
If you hold any customer data then things can be even more serious, because you’ll be responsible for that loss if you didn’t make adequate efforts to keep that data secure.
Keeping your website is really important, in the upcoming weeks we’re going to be digging more into maintenance. So stay tuned.