Keeping your website’s software up to date is important. If you neglect to do that, you open your website up to being compromised. No software is secure. Anything can be hacked. Once an exploit is known and the patch or update is not applied, you have a much greater chance of being hacked or compromised.
Updating Your Website is Like Updating Your Computer – But Times 1000!
It’s kind of like getting software updates to your computer… no wait, it’s exactly the same thing. There’s software running on your website and your website is accessible to basically anyone and everyone.
Here’s a scenario to think about… it would kind of like taking your desktop computer, putting it in on a table in a busy shopping mall for a day and letting anyone there do anything they want to it. By the end of the day, it would be so messed up, you could hardly use it.
Your website is that scenario times a thousand! The public access is a huge reason to keep everything up to date. Everyone in the world has access to your website and it’s the first impression of your business – something you want and need to protect.
Open Source Software
What’s really popular and smart to use now is Open Source Software. It’s free software (or low cost) that many developers have worked on. Some of it is junk but a lot of it isn’t – it’s good software that has evolved and has had a lot of people working on it over a long period of time.
The downside to Open Source Software is that you have to keep up with the updates – but that’s the same with any software… so what’s the difference? Actually, the downside is that you might not have the support you need as if you were paying for it. Updates come out but sometimes not as quickly. That’s even more reason to apply those updates as soon as they are available.
The great thing about Open Source Software is that it’s free or low cost. Instead of your website developer creating and coding all the software you need from scratch, they can see what is available and then test it and use it with a few modifications.
Fixing Open Source Software
Sometimes people forget that Open Source Software is free. Here’s an email I just sent off to a client. The scenario is that they have a video gallery running on their website. It uses videos from YouTube. What happened is that YouTube changed the way they do things (their API) and then this software broke. We applied a patch but it didn’t completely fix the problem and she was wondering why we were charging time for that work:
Upgrading software to the latest version and then testing it does take time. We have to try that even if it doesn’t lead to a problem being solved. In fact, it’s a part of owning a website and it’s just like upgrading your computer’s operating system (like Windows). When we do this work, like I said, we have to test it and make sure everything else still works. Also, kind of like a doctor, we have to take time and diagnose the issue – some issues are easier than others.
Also, from looking at this ticket, it looks like the software had to be upgraded because Google/YouTube made a change. That’s not something we have control over.
The nice thing about Open Source Software is that it’s low cost or free. You’re not paying for us to develop everything you need from scratch. Sometimes tweaks and adjustments need to be made (along with patches and upgrades to stay secure) but overall, Open Source Software has a definite cost savings.
I hope this explained things a bit better for you. One thing we strive to get better at is explaining all that we do and all the value we provide so that our clients understand all that goes into creating and then keeping their website working well.
I think this answer is fair. If a problem happens with a website, right off the bat, we might not know what to fix. We have to diagnose the issue first. Once we know what the cause is, we can fix it. Diagnosis takes time to do as the cause of something could be a myriad of things. It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack sometimes.
What we do is try to quote or estimate what it might take to diagnose and fix an issue. Like I said to her, we sometimes don’t do the best job explaining all that we did with a certain issue. It’s just not our nature to toot our own horn but we realize that we have to do a bit more of it so that our clients understand the time they’re being charged for work.