The Art of Maintenance

Jonny Darling Insight Leave a Comment

Reading Pirsig’s “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”, one thing is abundantly clear (while much remains a mystery!). Motorcycle maintenance is about more than the sum of its parts. No amount of investment in machinery or fine-tuning parts will compensate for ignorance about the system as a whole and how it operates in any given environment.

the art of maintenance

This sensible yet regularly overlooked rationale is demonstrative in illuminating the value of web maintenance. Motorcycle machines immediately depreciate out-of-the-box. As soon as the engine ignites, it’s decaying. Exposure to the elements guarantees that the bike suffers wear and tear over time. Every input of fuel, oil or water creates vulnerabilities, not to mention the implied risk of auto mechanics tampering with the system for routine service. All of these considerations apply to website maintenance.

Shiny New Toy

A new licensed content management system is clean, robust and efficient, but it is empty without content. The standard approach is to leave it to the professionals, and this is a wise decision. Start with a blank canvas, invest in good tools and skilled tradesmen to do the job. Web development is just that, in development. Most Irish web co’s will design and develop a beautiful, fully functional website, set it “live” and hand-over to the client. Here’s where it gets messy. The system, the website rather than the motorcycle now, is out there in the open. Yes, it’s built for purpose and will serve its purpose for the set requirements, but even if the goalposts don’t move (which they invariably will as the functionality and content of the website evolves), the climate in which it exists, the internet, certainly changes, by the second!

server client system framework

Here’s where web design and development companies make their money; Website Support. For every change request on the client side or revolution of the web itself, they’re called in to adjust and accommodate, at a fee! The funny thing however is that although BOTH parties buy in to this arrangement from the get-go, NEITHER savour it. It’s as though web support is an insurance cover that neither the insured nor the issuing party want to see honoured. For the client, the time, cost and headaches that ensue upgrades are enough to put them off in the first place. The web service provider is not much better. Yes this is pay-dirt, but God is it painful nit-picking over bug lists or accommodating obscure requests when there’s bigger, better, new system models to be getting on with?!

Work Nobody Wants To Do

Simply put, website maintenance is work nobody wants to do! It’s like going to the gym or eating healthy. We all know it’s good for us but somehow put it off at all costs! The cost to our health can be dear indeed, many times over the membership subscription or grocery bill. The health, the very life of a website, depends too on routine upkeep and tender loving care. It must be nurtured with rest, nutrition and exercise. Just because it is hard, especially to start with, website maintenance is absolutely essential to the welfare of the website!! Practice makes perfect, and in time, we all come to enjoy eating and living well. The same is true in the art of website maintenance. It takes a peculiar persuasion to actually take satisfaction from looking after websites. Just as well then that we’re about as peculiar as it gets here at SURFMERCHANT™!

Website Welfare

Spring is in the air, and with that comes time for a Spring clean. Routine service is not only good for the running of your motor, it’s a legal requirement to drive one. The NCT demands the upkeep of mechanical machines that use our roads in Ireland. Not only that, “maintaining” a full service history by certified mechanics rewards the owner when time comes to sell. Internet regulation lags behind. Foundations such as the European Computer Drivers License and Government body the Data Protection Commission strive to create and enforce a regulatory framework but the ownership duty of care for digital assets, namely websites, sits squarely with the owner. Only when in breach will the owner suffer the consequences and this is often too late for the well-being of the website, which extends far beyond compliance with data protection rules. With no rule-book to hold webmasters accountable, the temptation is to ignore and deflect. Ignorance is bliss until alarm bells go off and by then the damage is often done.

The Cost of Doing Nothing

The Costs of Doing Nothing

Here’s the nub of it. The risk to bad customer experience is a real and present danger from “server down”, “virus detected” and “website hacked” to less obvious but equally reputation damaging “out-of-date content”, “not compatible with mobile” and “page not found”. This equates to lost business directly and indirectly. We opened by talking in terms of buying a new motorbike. Naturally, you’d want to look after it, especially when you’ve invested heavily in the machine. Look after it and it will look after you, from a safety and performance point. Exactly the same with your website. “Going live” with a website is only the start of it. “Hand-over” is when the real work begins. If this is the type of work you don’t want to do, then find someone who does because as you must see by now, it’s money well spent.