The WPwatercooler is a great show, and I was on it again this past Monday with my BWAwWP co-author Brian Messenlehner. I may make it a habit to get on that show. And I may make it a habit to follow up each show with a summary of what went down.
The consensus was that you can’t make a website that won’t require updates. But you can do a few things to prepare for future updates and minimize their impact:
- Make sure you are using a good developer. Good developers will do things “the WordPress way” (e.g. using hooks and filters instead of hacking plugins), which will be less likely to be broken by plugin and core updates.
- Make sure you are using a good designer. Good designers will simplify things and use proven methods that are less likely to be broken by software and browser updates.
- Make sure your website has a purpose other than looking pretty. One year after your website goes live, it will probably be out of style… at least a little bit. But if you built a website that encourages people to call your sales phone number, it will still do that no matter what the design trends are.
- Make sure you have a maintenance plan. In addition to having someone on call to perform WordPress upgrades, have a developer on retainer or on call to fix things if anything goes wrong.
We need to do a better job of communicating with our clients about what role maintenance will play in their website. There were a few analogies thrown around on the show (websites are like babies?). My favorite was to think about your website like a car bought on lease (get regular oil changes and be ready to trade it in every 2-3 years) instead of a used car you buy and run into the ground.