Negotiating the right maintenance contract for your website
Business owners are rarely aware of the ongoing maintenance costs associated with a website. These include updating the technology, failure support and piracy protection. It is crucial, for all these reasons, to buy the right maintenance contract.
What a website maintenance contract should include
Generally, the overall contract with your web service provider will contain a short paragraph on your maintenance contract, the details of which are rarely discussed during the pre-sale process.
However, this is a crucial aspect of negotiating your partnership with a web services company. Here are the lessons we have learned about what to watch out for in negotiating a maintenance contract:
Hosting and security of a website
The majority of web service companies do not host their customers’ sites on their own servers and instead use hosting providers. Accommodation costs are therefore often transferred to the client on a monthly or annual basis, and rarely negotiable. The hosting service also includes protection of your site from attacks and technical support.
Since your web provider needs to correct any issues through the third-party provider, find out about the third-party provider’s hosting and security conditions, and annual maintenance costs. This will help you see if the level of service fits with your business needs and operating hours. Having to contact a web services company urgently after business hours is a nightmare that should be avoided.
Updates of Websites
Once your new site is launched, try to get all the corresponding files. You’ll need it if you ever decide to host your site on your own servers or switch web providers. As your site evolves over time, you should get a regular updated version of the corresponding files, ideally every three to six months.
The maintenance contract should also include future technology updates related to content management systems, widgets (forms, site searches, etc.), extension modules, third-party software API integration (QuickBooks, Salesforce, etc.) and operating systems/web browsers. To begin with, you should have a detailed list of versions that are currently running on your website.
Technical Support of the site
The initial warranty period after a website goes online usually does not exceed 30 days. When it expires, you are either left to your own devices or you must have a maintenance contract that includes technical support for the site.
Most web providers offer a given number of hours of technical support for a fixed monthly fee, or a bank-based pricing model, with volume discounts (the higher the number of hours subscribed, the lower your hourly rate).
Negotiating a maintenance contract based on good expectations promotes a successful partnership with your web services company. That’s why it’s important to discuss your maintenance needs at the very beginning of the project when you ask for a price proposal. Then include this important element in your overall budget.
When the initial warranty expires, we recommend calling your web provider quarterly to review your maintenance requirements and get an updated version of your website code and a list of updates from the support team or developer.
Otherwise, you may find yourself with an outdated website in the next two years and be ill-prepared in the event of an emergency – which we’ve been saying is sure to happen!