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BUT WAIT, WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT CARS?

Oddly enough, there are many similarities between maintaining a car and maintaining a website. Let’s keep going and identify seven of these similarities.
Auto mechanic working on a car

1. It’s important to maintain your website just like you maintain your car.

Cars… you take care of them and generally, they will be dependable. But those oil changes and occasional service visits for your car, just like your website, are necessary to keep the motor running properly. If you don’t take care of them… you could be in trouble!

So how do I change the oil on my website?

While you don’t actually change the oil on your website, you should do a monthly check of your website and update all of your plugins, themes and core software as well as completing a quick review of your site. Many people write on their calendar a date every month to check the oil and air in their tires. A similar practice could be helpful for your website maintenance.

2. Buying a new car gives you a lot of options.

You can get a Kia/Chevy, or an Audi/BMW, or even a Ferrari. They all drive on roads, but the experience is very different.

So there are different brands of websites?

Not exactly, but if you think of the cost and feature differences of a Kia vs. a Ferrari, there are definitely equivalents in the website world. The Kia will not have the same attention to detail, pre-build strategy, and conversion optimization that the Ferrari will have. But some people like Kia cars and find they work just fine without all the features.

3. Take time to “tidy up”

When you buy a new car, you usually clean out the glove compartment and throw away old candy wrappers. You don’t want to transfer all of that junk to the new car. Also, it is good to keep your new car nice and clean and make sure there are no empty soda cans lying about.

So you mean I have to “take out the trash” from my website?

Yes, it is definitely advisable to do a content audit and remove content that is no longer useful.  This ensures the content on your new site is purposeful and intentionally targets your website message. It is also good to delete old posts and pages as well as plugins that are no longer needed. When you do this, don’t forget to add 301 redirects on old content to avoid being penalized by the search engines in your SEO ranking.

4. Planning a website takes research, just like buying a car.

Buying a car takes time, research, and careful thought. Rushing in can cause buyer’s remorse and result in purchasing a car that doesn’t fit your needs. The last thing you want is a small compact car when you really needed the storage space and size of a large cargo van.

So I need to plan ahead? I can’t just start adding pages to a new site?

That is correct. For the best results, you should start by searching out a web designer and finding the right fit for you. Then, you and your web designer will spend time discussing your business goals and how you want the website to further those goals. Once you have your goals in place, then you will have a “spec sheet”, or a list of items that are needed. Then and only then, should you begin the work of designing and building your website.

5. There are skills and expertise to maintaining your website, and your car.

When working on a car, the parts are only a small portion of the expense. You are also paying for the expertise and knowledge of the mechanic who is working on your car.  Their experience and knowledge were learned from working on many different cars before working on yours.

I want to do all of the maintenance on my own website, can I do that?

Yes, you absolutely can. But it is really important to understand what you are undertaking. A common issue we find is that people forget to do the updates on their site and then the site slowly becomes outdated. It is crucial to keep your website up to date to make sure it is performing properly. At some point, it is very likely that you will need assistance from a developer.

For example, let’s say that you are very good at doing the updates (like changing the oil) and can do this on your own regularly.  Then, all of a sudden your web host performs an upgrade to your PHP version and that upgrade is not compatible with a plugin or theme on your site.  Now what?  You suddenly have no idea how to fix your site and restore its functionality.  You will need a reputable website developer to come in and assist with this more complex issue, very much like you need a mechanic to fix your engine block or change your brake pads.

Let’s look at the difference between having your oil changed by a professional, vs. you changing the oil at home.

Oil Change at Home

  • No rack to raise the car
  • You may or may not have the tools.
  • If you have them, you are not sure where they went since it has been a while since you had to change the oil.
  • You have to make sure to go purchase the oil and filter.

Oil Change by a professional

  • They have a rack to raise the car so that the work can be easily done.  (We have a staging site that is like a rack.)
  • They have the tools (We can easily stage and update protecting the live site.)
  • They have experience with many different cars, (We have worked with many sites and do this often. Our experience allows us to predict problems and ensure we do a thorough check.)
  • If a part (plugin) starts acting up, we know a lot about the different plugins available and can help fix the issue or find a replacement that will do the same thing.

6. Hosting is like finding the right parking place for your car.

One of the most important choices you will make besides your website designer will be the location where your website will be hosted. If you have a brand new car, you probably do not want to park that car on a busy street, or in a neighborhood with a lot of vandalism. The same is true for your website.

My current hosting plan is very affordable, can I just have you work on my site there?

Your website host is one of the most important variables for your site’s speed and security. If you wish to remain on your own hosting plan, we can do that, but it is very important to know that it will likely take far longer (and in the end be a lot more costly) for us to work on a site when it is not hosted within our current system. See the section above about the professional tools needed to work on your site (ie. development environment, known backup system, etc). Having everything together and hosted within our current system — keeping the tools together — makes us more efficient and it is for this very reason that we offer free hosting with our maintenance plans.

7. Some websites and cars are maintenance-heavy

In some cases, cars can be lemons and need a lot of work to keep them running. Oftentimes, it is best to look at a completely new car because it will be more affordable in the long run. The same can be true for a website.

So you mean websites can actually break down and become obsolete?

That is right.  As themes and plugins age, often they are no longer supported and pieces of code get outdated.  Yes, you can create temporary workarounds (kind of like baling wire and duct tape or “band-aids”), but as future updates come out, these customizations have to be independently updated and this becomes very costly.  When a site gets too many outdated snippets of code, it often becomes more cost-effective to simply build a new site than vs. updating the snippets.

Cars are like Websites

Polishing a race car symbolic to taking care of a website
At RadiateWP, we use this metaphor quite often when talking with others about the professional service that we provide. We often hear people talk about how easy it is to manage your own WordPress website and we feel that this may not accurately represent the whole story. Yes, WordPress is a user-friendly platform that opens up website publishing to many people. But the same can be said for learning to work on your own car. Many people actually enjoy doing their own car maintenance and they even treat it as a hobby. Likewise, learning WordPress and the technical details of websites can be enjoyable for some who find that they want to take this responsibility on themselves. But, many small business owners and organizations prefer to have a professional handle this so they can focus on running their organization or growing their business.
RadiateWP is a monthly service that handles all of your WordPress website needs. With one of our management plans, you can rely on our team to handle all of your WordPress support. We offer various packages from the starter package up to a monthly plan that offers unlimited support.