website maintenance

We provide a cost-effective website maintenance service to enable not-for-profit organizations (NFPs) to stay focused on delivering their mission. You can rely on our expertise whenever - and to whatever extent - you need it. We can establish a regular maintenance routine, or simply respond to periodic requests quickly and accurately. We can also help you address current issues and suggest improvements.

Budget suggestions for websites maintenance

We are aware that many of our clients review their budgets in advance of the fiscal year, which often begins in January or April.  We continue to receive questions and requests to suggest things to think about for the next year.  As some of these issues may be of relevance to many, we've summarized the key points below to help you think about planning for the regular maintenance and support of your IT infrastructure.

Regular maintenance of a website can help to keep it secure and prevent issues from arising. As much as possible, we'd like to prevent surprises and predict any maintenance work that might be expected for websites.  Below is a list of items we suggest our clients plan for each year.

Depending on the systems you own, not all of the points below will apply to your situation.  For those still on Drupal 6, the biggest issue this year is the anticipated release of Drupal 8, which will likely mean that Drupal 6 and its modules will no longer be supported or receive security updates.  This requires upgrading to Drupal 7.

If you have requests before the end of your fiscal year in March, please note that this is a very busy time for us, as many organizations are in the same situation.  Please discuss timing and financial options with your project manager.  The sooner we know what you require, the sooner we can plan.

Annual Maintenance Considerations

1. Drupal website(s) security updates.

Why is this important?  Security updates ensure that a site has up-to-date code so that potential security risks are addressed before they become a problem. Possible consequences of having a site without recent security updates: a leak of users' information, unauthorized access to your site, publishing not-approved content, hijacking the whole site, decreased performance.

How often should this be done?  Security updates should be applied when they become available.  The people who create the software issue updates when they are aware of problems.  For most website implementations, we use Drupal, which is an open source system. For Drupal, like any major piece of software, this can be as frequently as once a month, though sometimes a month or two goes by with no updates.

How much will this cost?  $1,000 to $3,500 annually.  The cost for our time in applying updates and doing other general maintenance on the site will vary depending on how complex the website is.

2. Drupal website(s) review for error logs, performance issues, missing content redirects, link checking, compatibility with new browsers, etc.

Why is this important?  Most problems with a website can be prevented when a review of error logs is done on a periodic basis. In addition, we can review a site for compatibility with new versions of major browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari) and other potential problems.

How often should this be done?  We can review these areas when they arise during security updates, or on a quarterly basis, and apply simple fixes. If a major issue is noticed, we can estimate the cost of various options, and let you know so you can make a decision about how to proceed.

How much will this cost?  If a site never had such an audit, the first audit will take longer (it might take over a day, up to around $1,000 for the time involved).  Each subsequent pass should take less time, so the cost would be between $300 and $400 each quarter.

3. CiviCRM (contacts database) security updates.

Why is this important?  Security updates ensure that your database has up-to-date code, so that potential security threats are addressed before they become a problem.  In the case of your contacts database, this is especially important because you don't want the sensitive personal information in the system to be lost or compromised.

How often should this be done?  CiviCRM has a small number of security updates per year.  The schedule is irregular.

How much will this cost?  Based on how much time this took last year for the average system, we estimate that this would cost about $1,000 to $2,500 each year.

4. CiviCRM version upgrades

Why is this important?  CiviCRM releases version upgrades every few weeks, and major upgrades every few months.  Keeping up-to-date with the latest version helps your site run smoothly and gives you the latest features.  Older versions eventually stop receiving security updates.

How often should this be done?  Allocating an ongoing budget to upgrade CiviCRM regularly is the best approach.  At a minimum, CiviCRM should be upgraded once a year.

How much will this cost?  At a minimum, there should be budget allocated for one upgrade each year (approximately $700).  If the organization desires to have all recent features implemented as soon as they become available, that budget would be $2,000 to $3,000 to support multiple upgrades throughout the year.

5. "Nice to have" fixes.

We encourage all clients to improve their website and database systems as needed, on an ongoing basis.  The goal is to keep improving the user experience, to take advantage of new interfaces and features.  In some cases, your staff, volunteers or public visitors will have used a new kind of interface on other websites and will expect your site to work the same way.  In other cases, you will have discovered a new need that you realize could be addressed through the website.  It can be important to expand the website to address that need.  In some cases, staff or volunteers may be frustrated that the website doesn't deal with a new membership renewal process, for example, and it may cause them to use other tools instead of the website, which may decrease your efficiency.

This kind of work is obviously highly variable.  We encourage proactive planning with all our clients so we can help assess your organizational needs and provide realistic cost estimates.