You’ve been driving around happily in your brand new car for some time. You’re enjoying the gadgets which you specified were added whilst the car was on the production line - the integrated bluetooth, built-in sat nav, the on-board computer can not only tell you how many miles you’ve done and what fuel consumption you’ve achieved, but also how many passengers you’ve picked up on each journey...
It was a pleasant experience when you purchased your new car, the guys at the garage seemed like nice chaps, they knew what they were doing, and they didn’t even mind when you decided, actually, yes I will have the red trim on the upholstery now I come to think of it, because my partner/parent/next door neighbour absolutely loves red!
But now you’ve broken down. For some unknown reason, your shiny new car just will not do what it is supposed to do even though it’s been doing it perfectly for the last year/weeks/few months since driving it off the forecourt.
Do you contact the garage where you bought your car and demand they fix it, free of charge, because when you bought the car it worked perfectly but now it’s not?
I think we all know the answer. The garage would laugh at you.
If, however, you had taken up their offer of extended warranty and recovery assistance, the nice chaps at the garage would be all too willing to help you immediately and get you back on the road in no time. Indeed, regular maintenance checks provided by the garage as part of their extended warranty and recovery service may well have prevented the break down in the first place.
A website is not a car.
No, a website is not a car. It is not a physical ‘thing’ you can pick up and hold and touch. Which makes a monthly payment for keeping it ‘alive’ sometimes a difficult pill to swallow. But, like our new car, websites live within a moving environment where outside forces have an impact on its performance.
Just like we need to give our car oil, water and fuel to keep it going, a full service and an MOT to keep it roadworthy, a website also needs maintaining and looking after, to keep the codebase free from bugs and up to date with the ever progressive technology of today.
Operating Systems get updated, Apple brings out a new device, Microsoft develops a new browser - and suddenly certain pages and/or functionality do not display or work as they did before.
Third party integrations change as well; Twitter updating its API a few years ago is a classic example.
These issues aren’t down to poor workmanship when the website was built and so the developer or agency should not be expected to ‘fix’ things free of charge for the rest of the website’s life.
A website is not a one-off cost
It’s a common mistake to put a one-off figure in the budget plans for website development. The actual planning, design and build can be completed at an agreed fixed project cost (although this in itself is a grey area but we’ll save that for another blog post), but budgets need to also allow for ongoing maintenance - because it is hugely important.
Taking the analogy of our new car, when deciding on the make, model, engine size and age, we’re also considering how much it will cost to run and keep on the road as well as the one-off purchase price.