When we develop our non profit websites we use content management system technology to ensure our clients can maintain their websites without the need for significant technical skill. In our article Choosing the right CMS we articulate our process for picking the right tool for our clients. In summary we choose either WordPress, Drupal, or Sitefinity depending on the long term needs and budget of our clients.
Over the years we’ve characterized our customer’s needs into several buckets of maintenance plans:
If it is so easy, why do I need a maintenance plan?!
The simple answer is, you absolutely do not need a maintenance plan! Our mission is to push the limits of content management system technology so that you can control each aspect of your website without having to give us a call. We record training videos to ensure that as personnel turn over, the management of your website can be accomplished without serious re-training or expense. Most of our clients choose to manage their website on their own and we fully encourage this.
I have limited staff but really need updates every now and then
This is the most common maintenance plan that we encounter. Usually we partner with your existing website lead or IT person. He or she makes most of the updates, but from time to time we are called upon to help – especially in crunch times such as annual conference preparation periods. In this scenario, we work on an hourly basis to make updates in a reliable and accurate fashion. Below are a few examples of the kinds of tasks we help our clients with:
- Addition of pages, events, announcements, documents
- Addition of documents such as PowerPoint presentations
- Conversion of documents to PDF format
- Formatting of advanced content like tables and charts
- Minor graphics design tasks like cropping and sizing photos
- Addition of new plugins or layout updates to the website
We have a regular need for updates but don’t have the staff to support us
For clients that have a dedicated need for service, we can provide guarantee turn-around times. We generally ask for a minimum of 20 hours per month of work and in exchange we provide a highly skilled technician. In addition to the services above, we provide access to our ticket tracking system so you can see the current status of your requests. In addition to the services provided above, our dedicated support professional will be able to perform advanced customizations and integrations such as:
- Manipulating imagery with Photoshop
- Creating images from scratch with our staff artist
- Developing custom plugins or extending existing plugin functionality
- Search engine optimization services to help your ranking on Google
- Active oversight of Google analytics data and continual refactoring of your site to help optimize your visitors experience in line with your nonprofit’s goals
The other benefits with our dedicated plan include:
- Help desk to include phone suppport
- Guaranteed turn around times with a tracking and ticketing system to provide accountability
- “Loose metering” in that we do not charge overages. Some months we expect a bit more work, others a bit less. By giving us the opportunity to provide a dedicated resource we return the favor by reducing your risk in unanticipated fees
I just need someone to keep my site secure and do the necessary tasks like take backups
In our article on nonprofit website hosting we talk about the need to have a strong hosting partner. NonprofitCMS partners with two leading hosting companies: Rackspace USA (NASDAQ: RAX) and Firehost. Both of these providers manage SAS-70 certified facilities with redundant power, multiple internet connectivity links, secure backups galore, and unbeatable hardware replacement guarantees. We offer our hosting services separate from any other maintenance plan. The reason for this is that they are two completely different skillsets. It might be alright for a server administrator to make updates on a website, but we definitely would not want our website team managing our servers!
We recommend our clients use a hosting provider they feel most comfortable with. There are many reputable local hosting companies that have 24/7 teams to do proactive hosting maintenance take reactive measures in the event of an emergency. If you do not have a preferred partner we recommend Rackspace and Firehost. As an option, we can manage your relationship with Rackspace or Firehost for a nominal surcharge.
We truly recommend avoiding the budget providers like GoDaddy and BlueHost as they have rampant downtime and service issues.
Concluding question: So, do I need a maintenance plan?
Most likely, your organization will be fine without a maintenance plan. We take a lot of steps upfront, most importantly our recorded training videos, to ensure your website can thrive without us. We’ll always be around for those one-off tasks that you may need an extra hand with. Maintanence plans are best suited for those organizations that are outgrowing their existing staff but do not have the budget to make another full hire just yet. We can be your integrated team filling your needs in the interim.