What Happens After Launch?
A website launch marks a significant point in building an online presence. Whether you’re a new business, existing business, non-profit, or sole proprietor, launching a new website can feel like the end. For us, it’s just the beginning.
Here’s what happens post launch.
Tracking and Analytics
Most of the time website traffic is tracked with the Google Analytics platform. This is a world class, enterprise level tracking system that leverages the google platform. You can track page visits, user flow, events and a host of other information. While it is not possible to uniquely identify a specific individual, google can also provide broad demographic information (age, gender, location, etc).
The best way to make important site organization decisions is to use this information. By rooting your decision-making in real data, we keep opinions and misinformation out of the equation. This also means that there are less site changes overall and ensures each change benefits the majority of users.
Server and Performance
We measure traffic and server performance for a couple of weeks after launch. During this time we may find that the amount and type of traffic your site receives may result in a server upgrade. We try and estimate server size and, well, power during development, but due to the many variables associated with websites we may have to make adjustments.
Upgrading your server is a quick and easy process that does not result in any downtime, however it may come with a cost increase. We’ll communicate to you if this needs to happen.
Internet Bad Guy
Recently launched websites are often targeted in DDOS (Direct Denial of Service) attacks, hack attempts, or other phishing attacks. Hackers assume that a new websites may have vulnerabilities that have not been found. We use open source, user tested, community developed software. This helps to minimize these risks. However, we do know that it’s not a matter of if you get hacked, it’s a matter of when. When a hack or attack does happen it’s not a big deal. A DDOS attack will eventually end, typically within the hour, and a hack is cleaned up by restoring from a backup.
We are careful to only save personal financial information if it is absolutely necessary and always take the necessary precautions. On eCommerce websites we do hold user addresses and emails. If a hack happens will likely be able to tell you if this personal information was compromised, in which case all user passwords will be reset. It is your responsibility to notify your users.
We monitor your website uptime and will automatically get notified should your website crash or become unresponsive. This downtime, if it does occur, rarely lasts for longer than a couple of minutes and does not require any notice from us. (By the time our notice would reach you the site would be back up.)
We expect all our sites to have a 99%+ uptime, currently we’re averaging 99.79% uptime across all the sites we manage (including the old ones), yours should be no different.
Backup and Security
If you opted into our Backup and Security plan, we’re automatically creating a backup every 12 hours. Each of these backups is a potential restore point. It’s important to know that once a site is rolled back there is no way to undo it. The database, files, orders, users, etc are all rolled back to a previous state. This means that if a restore does need to happen any orders (or other site changes) made after the point of restore will not be reflected on the website, or in the backend.
We maintain redundant backups in 3 locations; two separate AWS (Amazon Web Service) accounts as well as a a digital ocean server specifically for backups. A daily backup of your database is also stored on your server separate from your live database. Your site files (excluding the database) also exists in a private git repository. So, in a worst case scenario (where we cannot restore from a backup automatically) we will be able to rebuild your website very quickly (a matter of hours, probably.)
If you opted into our Backup and Security plan, plugin and other site updates are automated. While almost all updates will have little to no effect on your website, small changes to functionality or layout may happen. These will likely improve the site in some way, be it security, user interface, added features, etc. We will notify you if a large change may happen, such as changes to the WooCommerce platform, that might affect your site in some negative way.
An update may crash your site. We do our best to make sure this does not happen, but it is possible. If this does occur we’ll find the offending update and revert it to bring the site back online. This does, however, raise a security concern. Almost all updates are security based so rolling back one of these updates leaves a publicized security hole in your website. We’ll notify you if this does happen and provide a time estimate for fixing it.
Contrary to popular belief and the wishes of our clients, an online store does require some amount of hands-on upkeep. We cannot, (and should not), automate everything. Good, old fashioned, human intuition and interaction helps to keep the web human and user focused. This is why your team should keep as close an eye on web sales as they do shop sales… think of it as an additional sales location, complete with staff, reporting, customer support, etc.
We like to use the car analogy when talking about website maintenance. Just like a car, site maintenance is required for it to continue to run smoothly. Just like a car, older websites require more maintenance, often at increased cost. Just like a care, skipping or skimping on this maintenance could cause a breakdown or crash that is more expensive and time consuming to fix. Just like a care, sometimes old websites simply need to be replaced.
New Features and Refreshes
Adding functionality and refreshing your website should be something built into a long term business plan. Internet technology, user interfaces, and what users expect, changes as we move into the future. This will happen with or without you. It’s important to plan and budget for updates and site refreshes to keep your website relevant, working, and looking good. We typically suggest a site refresh every 2 years and small improvements monthly. This is a good use of your monthly retainer.