As someone who’s worked with WordPress directly for over a decade, I can tell you that you’ll never stop learning about it. No matter how much you build or tweak or replace or repair, a new surprise is just around the corner.
Surprises can be delightful, but they’re generally not what you want when you’re trying to focus on something else. Website surprises are not delightful when you’re on vacation or sleeping or spending time with your friends and family.
And yet, having to deal with something unexpected is often a valuable learning moment. We can more deeply understand the way things work when we’re under pressure, because that pressure can help us focus. It’s not necessarily pleasant in the moment, though, and it’ll zap your energy quickly if it happens often.
So, a critical aspect of your website plan is considering what you want to be responsible for personally, and then offloading everything else to trustworthy partners.
We’ve already discussed what to consider when it comes to hosting, security, maintenance, monitoring, and other technical aspects of managing a website well. Now, you’re left with a few remaining questions to complete your technology and vendor “stack”.
- Do I have a plan for adding new content and editing existing content? Will I need help?
- If a plugin I’m using has a bug that keeps me from doing my job, what are my next steps?
- If I have a question about a theme or plugin, who should I ask?
Content Additions and Updates
It sounds obvious, but I’ve seen it catch people by surprise time and time again over the years: do you have a content plan you’re comfortable with?
I don’t mean your content strategy, or the way you’ll handle your marketing, or who will author the content.
I mean: if a phone number needs to get changed, literally who will change it on the website? Does that person know how to do it already, or will there be a learning curve?
Without a solid plan, it becomes easy to forget about the updates. Then they pile up until they can’t be ignored. Then someone goes in for the first time in forever trying to knock everything out at once, and they find they’re not sure where to go, or that things have changed.
Especially for websites that will be updated frequently, it can be valuable to pay someone to make your content changes for you.
However, if you’ve got the time and energy to make the updates yourself, you can learn a lot about WordPress very quickly. Your familiarity with WordPress may be an asset in your career, too!
Supporting Everything on Your Website
Most WordPress sites have a combination of free and paid themes and plugins. For virtually every individual theme and plugin, you’ll have an individual route for getting questions answered or issues addressed.
This, in and of itself, creates a lot of wasted time for the casual website maintainer. Here’s how it often plays out:
- You notice an issue or have a question that needs to be addressed to get something important done.
- You attempt to deduce which plugin or theme is causing the problem (if you can).
- You search your email or online to try and figure out where to ask your question.
- If it’s a “premium” plugin, you’ll hopefully be able to get in touch with a helpful, prompt expert.
- If it’s a free plugin, you may be totally out of luck. You may need to post in a public forum and hope another user or the plugin author helps you with your question for free.
- You manage to get someone’s attention for your issue, but the first thing they ask you to do is disable every other theme and plugin except for the particular one in question. This will break your public website.
- If you don’t know any better (or it’s low-risk), you might go ahead and try on the live site.
- If your host provides a staging site, you can make a copy and then try to debug the issue there.
These steps can take anywhere from minutes to weeks and months.
That final stage of creating a temporary version of your site and deactivating plugins one-by-one will become very familiar territory on a heavily-used WordPress site. It’s time-consuming and often frustrating, as it may or may not lead to any new insights. Yet, many theme and plugin authors will require this prior to looking into your request.
The raw amount of uncertainty involved—combined with the time it takes to go through these steps over and over—can be anxiety-inducing, especially if you’re pressed for time.
Consider the amount of responsibility you’d like to have here, and then ensure the combination of your hosting, maintenance, theme, and plugin vendors will be able to adequately and promptly address any concerns that may come up.
The level of expertise and support can vary wildly by vendor, so some trial and error will be required—but you can usually get a good idea of support quality within a single interaction.
For Website Concierge, our customers have told us for years that the built-in support covering every aspect of their website is the most valuable part of the service. That makes sense! It’s a huge mental and emotional relief to know exactly where to go with any question at any time, and to know you don’t have to take any initial steps yourself.
Putting It All Together
Regardless of how you combine vendors and services, ensuring that you’re prioritizing yourself, your goals, and your unique organization will pay off big time. All of the other tiny details—hosting, security, maintenance, monitoring, and support—should be serving those priorities. You want your website to be working for you, not asking for all of your time and energy.
Without a doubt, this overview of managing a WordPress site could have been much longer. The more you learn about the technologies, the more questions you uncover, and the more details you store away for a rainy day.
My hope is that we’ve given you a solid approach that you can tailor for yourself and your organization, which ensures a reliable and helpful website for your community without asking too much of you personally. ♥️
- How to Manage Your Own WordPress Website
- How to Host Your WordPress Website (or How to Choose a Managed WordPress Host)
- How to Maintain, Secure, and Monitor Your WordPress Website
- How to Update and Get Support for Your WordPress Website