Yesterday I tweeted an article by Themefuse. Please take a moment to read and then come back 🙂 I will expand on the idea. Their article is about avoiding “bad” themes, there is also great value in paying for WordPress maintenance as not only themes, but plugins can go bad as well.
I see a lot of web designers advertise that they only use free plugins and themes. To a degree I understand that, FREE is an attention-getter. Everyone wants FREE.
Until it breaks.
Until your site gets hacked.
Until customer’s data is jeopardized.
Until SEO takes a dive
The problem with many free – and even paid WordPress themes and plugins is they may work great initially, but then after a set period of time stop working – or worse, they embed malicious code. The “free” theme or plugin could be stolen, or something more innocent as a new coder who never goes back to update it.
Many companies shy away from paying maintenance fees because they can just click “update” on the dashboard and be done.
Or worse, don’t do any maintenance at all. Yes, doing the updates is important. Reputable companies push out updates with new features, correct bugs, and close security holes. The difference with paying a designer you trust for maintenance is we’ll take it one step further. We’ll check out the update prior to clicking that button, and we’ll look for differences afterwards.
I recently switched out my preferred Social Media sharing plugin.
After updating, the sites I manage were running slower. After a bit of digging I found it was adding tracking code. This code isn’t malicious in of itself, but I had a huge ethical problem with it. First, I was not pleased that it was added without any communication from the developer – this was a plugin I had paid for too. I have seen other sharing plugins that allow the developer to opt out of the tracking, that’s great. The other issue is the tracking doesn’t even benefit the owner of the website – it benefits the plugin developer. No. NO. Last but not least, with this level of tracking, I feel there should be a “this site collects certain data” warning to the end user. Even if I and my clients had been ok with the data collection, we wouldn’t have known to add the warning.
There ARE good free plugins out there!
I do want to make clear there are many high quality free plugins out there. Part of my job is to find them when applicable to my clients. One thing I look at is if the company offers a free basic plugin and then an upgraded premium one. This is quite common. Wordfence is a prime example of this. The basic free version has great features and tools. The premium version has that and much more. They can offer a free version (presumably) because it gives them access to more data points, more types of hacking threats. This in turn helps all customers – free and paid.
Most of my customers are small businesses. I have a face to face relationship with my clients, and they also have a face to face relationship with their customers.
Trust is critical to our businesses.
There are many good free themes and plugins out there. But as a business owner do you have the time to research all of them to weed out the good from not so good? The same question applies to maintenance. There is value in paying for WordPress Maintenance. As a designer I want to keep my customer’s sites up to date and working properly. A poorly functioning website doesn’t help you, the client, either. Wouldn’t you rather focus on your business and what you do best?