Starting this WordPress maintenance service with the name jokingly pronounced “dude-where’s-my-website-DOT-COM” (credits to Michael Moore and Homestar Runner) is my effort to formalize what I have already been doing over the last several years at This Neck of the Woods Consulting: supporting the websites of non-profits and small businesses.
Over this time I have worked mainly with clients whose websites are based on WordPress. Starting out in my freelancing career, I recognized the potential of WordPress as an enabling technology after a friend of mine urged me to try it out. At the time, I had been exploring Drupal as a technology on which to focus. Though that platform is of a very robust and industrial grade, my sense at the time was that WordPress was a lot easier for a non-techie to navigate. It truly does enable persons who are not coders to assemble functional websites in a reasonably short amount of time. But WordPress is also enabling because a site can be put up at a relatively low cost. That circularly is one major reason I support clients with WordPress, as all of my clients have limited budgets.
As I started building and maintaining WordPress sites, I envisioned handing completed, well-functioning websites over to my clients, or maybe to someone on their staff, who would maintain the site happily ever after. They would call me only when there was a problem, or when they wanted some new functionality or layout too difficult to achieve without some coding or research into available options. In those days, when I submitted project estimates to new clients, I always included time to train them in the basics of WordPress and the specifics of how to change content on their website. What I ultimately found out was that most of my clients did not have the inclination to spend the time it takes to maintain their own website, even after having some training in how to do it.
I think the problem is that even though anyone can theoretically build and maintain a website with WordPress, one must still spend some time learning how to do to so. The terms user-friendly, intuitive, and no coding required do not mean that a user interface for something as complex as building a website will be instantly grokked by the user. Even site builder services such as Wix , Weebly, or Squarespace require some time investment from the user to become effective using the provided tools. My perception is that unless someone is a web developer, designer, blogger, or web publisher already, they are usually not motivated to spend that much time learning yet more technology when they already feel overwhelmed by the technology in which we are all drowning. Again, there are exceptions but that seems to be the rule. That is why people often hire designers to build sites on so-called DIY services like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. They could theoretically do it themselves but, hey it’s kind of boring and tedious and it can still take hours of work even when one knows what they are doing.
After a short while I realized that in order to make sure that at least my clients’ website software stayed up-to-date and secure, it was going to have to be me who took care of it. Since I was providing hosting for most of them anyway, it seemed reasonable to charge a monthly fee that included keeping the site updated in addition to hosting. Over time, with the help of tools like ManageWP, I have been able to add performance and security scans as well as weekly reports to keep my clients apprised of how things are going on their website.