10 tips for choosing a WordPress maintenance agency: A Guide.

If you are serious about winning new business and leads through your website, it makes sense to invest in a WordPress maintenance plan for your site.

WordPress is an awesome CMS, but like all software, things do occasionally go wrong and things need fixing. If you’ve built your own website, or have inherited a WordPress site as part of your job, you may not be the best person to fix issues when they arise.

1. Decide exactly what type of support you need before you do anything further.

This sounds obvious, but many WordPress support providers have very different levels of service and work in different ways.

  • Do you need 24/7 support or business hours only?
  • Are your requests likely to be technical and occasional?
  • Do you need help with even the most basic of WordPress updates?
  • Are change requests part of a plan you have or are they likely to be sporadic and spontaneous?

It’s important to know what you need before you start emailing support companies as they may not offer what you need or more than you need.

2. Do you really need 24/7 support?

Many WordPress support suppliers boast a 24/7 service.

Whilst this can be tempting, it also means this one important thing:

It’s likely that every time you request help, it will be provided by someone different.

This means that the WordPress support agent won’t know you, your site or have worked on your theme and templates before.

Since most WordPress developers all do things slightly differently, this can mean your sites template files slowly become a hotch-potch of patches and tweaks over time.

Talk to us about your support requirements

3. Do you want a quick-fix or a relationship?

A lot of WordPress support agencies have teams dotted all over the planet to get your site up-and-running ASAP should it hit a problem.

This is perfect if you want a support-only arrangement where you don’t build a relationship with your support team – they’re just an avatar behind online chat or email.

If you want more of a personal service where you can speak to people on the phone and get to know the whole WordPress team, it might be better to consider a WordPress support provider that’s more local to you.

When you get to know the people behind your WordPress support it results in a much more beneficial relationship – the team get to know you, your site and your business.

This means that you can share ideas, bounce things off each other and get true one-to-one support a team that you get to know.

4. Would you like more than just technical support?

We help many of our support clients with more than just WordPress fixes and tweaks. As we also design and build websites and have a design studio in-house, we can provide more than the one service.

There are so many aspects to looking after a website that it can often make sense to work with a support company that can provide you with lots of additional services inhouse.

Rather than having one company do your WordPress development and another providing SEO and yet another help you with design work, it can save you time and money to place all these requirements with a WordPress agency that’s big enough to handle everything for you.

WordPress Support Choices

5. Do want proactive or reactive?

Many online website support companies are purely reactive, so you won’t get anything out of them until you ask for it.

Again, this might be the service you’re looking for, but it may be more beneficial for your business to work with an experienced WordPress team that provides you with monthly reports on your websites health, positions in the search for your main keywords and actively suggests plugins or ideas that may add extra value to the support contract you have.

Here at Toast, we run monthly reports for all our site maintenance clients – this covers-off the health of the site – so we can see on a monthly or weekly basis what needs to be addressed (we often fix things before you even know they need fixing.

We also have online keyword tracking, so you can log in and check the performance of your keywords (whether we’re doing your SEO or not). This is particularly useful if you are investing in SEO and don’t know what’s working and what isn’t.

A proactive WordPress support company will bundle these added extras into your support contract at no extra cost and they really do add value and keep you informed.

6. Do they do their homework?

Before we take on any WordPress support for a site, we ask to have a look at the WordPress Dashboard, the Plugins and the site Theme.

We do this to make sure that we can definitely support the site.

As WordPress is infinitely customisable, we prefer to be upfront about things and will tell you if we don’t think we’ll be able to provide you with support.

This might be down to a number of reasons, such as a highly customised Premium theme where the previous developer has not created a Child Theme or vast amounts of hard-coded stuff that’s been done years ago.

The good news is that 99% of this stuff is fixable, so if we do discover issues, we’ll let you know and advise the best course of action.

For sites that have current problems, we generally suggest a small fixed-price project to fix all these as a one-off before your support plan starts.

Talk to us about your support requirements

7. Are they organised?

Make sure the company you are considering has a service level agreement and terms and conditions for their services.

WordPress developers and Support agencies are completely unregulated – there is no governing body or set of rules, and anyone can set up as a ‘WordPress Expert’ tomorrow.

There are many back-room service providers out that that are either a one-person-band or simply don’t do any of the work – they just farm it out off-shore.

Check they are a Limited Company, look at their premises on Google maps – if they are a legit and sustainable business, they’ll be able to provide a company and VAT number, have a decent office and experienced staff.

8. Do they invest in themselves?

A company that is doing well invests in its staff, WordPress Plugins and tech. It can pay dividends to ask a potential supplier if they have their own plugins to use on your site to improve it or how they manage support requests.

We use Zendesk at Toast to manage all WordPress help requests and we can provide our clients with a to-the-minute breakdown of time used and actions completed.

We’ve also invested heavily in some of the best premium plugins for WordPress and regularly swap-out unsecure freebie plugins on our clients’ site with professional and secure plugins that we own – this is again an added benefit to our clients.

9. Are they established?

WordPress agencies companies disappear all the time. If you are looking to build a longer-term relationship with a support company, make sure you ask them how long they have been going, how many fulltime staff they employ and how many support clients they have.

This information will help you make a more informed decision – if they literally set up six months ago, will they still be around in another six months?

It’s also to ask them about their wide-ranging experience. Do they have more senior staff or are they a bunch of graduates?

This can again be the difference between a support team that only do what you ask them to and one that is more proactive.

10. Can they provide references (other than the ones on their site that they’ve written themselves?

You’ve got to love online reviews – especially when it’s pretty obvious that a company has just reached out to friends and family to get a lot of reviews quickly.

If you really want to check the agency out, ask them to provide a reference that you can email yourself.

If they are not willing to do so, chances are they’ve no real relationship with any of their clients or don’t really have any overly positive reviews!

Making your final choice.

We would always advise speaking directly to your WordPress support team before signing any contract.

If they are just email-based, you’re never really going to get to know the people providing your WordPress maintenance, and if there’s no relationship there, it can be easy for the service levels to slack.

David Foreman

David Foreman

Dave is the Managing Director at Toast and has been working with websites for over 25 years. He's a WordPress expert and has built 100s of WP sites. He now mainly works in improving organic SEO for clients.