A podcast I recently listened to got me thinking about how people view maintenance and support in the real world, differently than in the virtual or software worlds. Often we create websites and web applications and I think perhaps due to our own style and approach maybe leave people with the impression that a website, once launched, should live happily ever after and never need attention from the technical professionals who built it. I think all to often the concept of a “bug” or an “issue” leads to the conclusion that things weren’t built properly, or weren’t tested enough.
Many of today’s more modern frameworks place a strong emphasis on the concept of testing, and Test Driven Development. Our favourite framework these days, Laravel, has a solid testing concept and framework built right into the core concept of its development and management. Testing in this fashion is helpful and necessary, but even if done well can’t guarantee that issues don’t arise…or that bad things won’t happen.
As the podcast I previously mentioned, entitled In Praise of Mainteanance, suggests, “Has our culture’s obsession with innovation led us to neglect the fact that things also need to be taken care of?”
We currently strive in our early discussions with clients and prospective clients to be clear in the notion that technical systems, like their counterparts in the physical world, require ongoing maintenance, management and support…hopefully of a proactive nature. Consider the cost of your website being hacked, or down at the critical moment that a new and highly regarded prospect visits your website. Consider the cost of not having a backup copy of a website or application to redeploy when an ISP suffers catastrophic failure of hardware, or is infiltrated by people seeking to do them harm or shut them down. While these incidents are rare, they do happen and we’ve been with clients who are ready, and ones who didn’t want to pay the extra money to be ready.
Would you drive a car without ever performing maintenance on it? How would you sleep without home insurance protecting you from floods, fires and earthquakes? Ongoing expenditure in a website or web application is a similar investment and should help you to sleep better knowing that if the worst case scenario happens, that you and your development teams are ready to spring into action and restore things quickly and with minimal data loss. In addition, having a partner that is proactively looking out for your technical systems and online reputation can be an investment that pays back far more than it costs.