What is the main hidden cost of managing your WordPress site in 2019? Your time! You’ve added up your website budget, but have you really accounted for all the time you need to put into it?
Learning how things are done and the time that takes.
Learning is one of the main hidden time costs of managing your own website. Even though there are many do-it-yourself parts to it that can be learned, how much time do you have available? Learning to troubleshoot each new issue that may arise on your website can be extremely time-consuming and involve a tedious ongoing commitment.
Here are just a few of the areas that DIY WordPress website owners will spend hidden time on in 2019:
1. Learning Gutenberg – Learning how to use the new WordPress Gutenberg editor.
2. Learning Plugins – Learning to use your plugins, managing settings and preferences.
3. Updating themes – Keeping your WordPress theme updated, an important ongoing security measure.
4. Finding stuff out – Finding out which of your themes and plugins will not work in Gutenberg .
5. Weekly plugin updating – Managing ongoing updates to your website back-end and removing obsolete plugins .
6. Health Check Plugin – Using the Health Check plugin to locate plugin conflicts and troubleshoot.
7. Keeping up with WordPress – Reading updates about WordPress, getting ready for Gutenberg Phase 2.
8. Optimizing website content – Optimizing website imagery for faster loading, and optimizing content for search engines.
9. Managing contact forms and blocking Spam – Managing client messages while blocking spam.
10. Backing up your website, and learning how to restore it from a backup.
Time is money
Be prepared for time learning how things are done
What is your time worth? Keep in mind that you will need to invest a lot of that time in managing the day-to-day updates and activities on your own website. Are you sure that’s a smart investment?
WordPress websites require dozens of carefully configured plugins working in unison to give your website the features and functionality it needs. In theory, this is meant to be fairly easy for the average person to figure out. After all, how hard can it be to configure Contact Form 7, add a Google tracking code, or create an image gallery? Well, that’s already a lot of time consumed, and you haven’t even posted any content yet.
As WordPress website owners we spend dozens of hours per year learning how things are done. And this is before any content is offered to our visitors.
Money is money
There are real financial costs too!
Those who argue that time is not money should know that there are actual financial costs too. The yearly cost associated with your site depends on what type of themes and plugins you have customized, and on your day-to-day management demands. Elegant Themes sells WordPress themes ranging from Premium Themes, which cost between $50-$200, to Premium Plugins, which widely vary from $15 up to $200 each (some are one-time purchases, others are monthly/annual licenses).
It all adds up pretty quickly with premium WordPress themes costing $60 per year. Many plugins are now charging upwards of $99 per month for enhanced CMS, newsletters, membership groups, security, translation, backups and countless more. These expenses don’t include hosting or time learning how to use the new WordPress Gutenberg editor. The Gutenberg editor has forever changed the landscape of WordPress, but it has also burdened users with new support costs (not to mention the time needed to learn it).
Themes, plugins, and lengthy documentation
Reading lengthy procedure documentation is a hidden time cost of managing your own website as well. Many plugins and themes have lengthy documentation and require expert setup, or time spent learning how to use them.
The expenses can add up pretty quickly, with premium WordPress themes costing $60 per year. Many plugins are now charging upwards of $99 per month for enhanced CMS, newsletters, membership groups, security, translation, backups, and countless more features. Many plugins have lengthy documentation and require expert setup, or considerable time spent learning how to use them.
The Gutenberg editor update was an evolution to the core WordPress editing functions. The update diminished the WordPress classic back-end editor to a plugin named the Classic Editor. This single update left many WordPress users scrambling for solutions to fix compatibility conflicts for the thousands of plugins that rely on the Classic Editor (to be supported for only 2 more years).
According to WordPress, Phase 1 was the new Block editor, which was released in 2018, with WordPress 5.0. “In 2019 we’re focusing on Phase 2, which will provide a way for themes to visually register content areas and expose these in Gutenberg”, they claim.
Phase 2 Gutenberg. What’s coming?
Warning, learning curve ahead
- Creating a block for navigation menus.
- Port all existing widgets to blocks.
- Upgrade the widgets-editing areas and the Customizer to support blocks.
- Provide a way for themes to visually register content areas, and expose them in Gutenberg.
- Merge the site health check plugin into Core, to assist with debugging and encourage good software hygiene.
- Provide a way for users to opt-in to the automatic plugin and theme updates.
These are all new and exciting features, but even these require users to click and be informed about all of the time-consuming steps. You can learn about the new editor and practice building with Gutenberg blocks live on:
So much to keep up with, even for professional WordPress developers
Troubleshooting conflicts has become part of the WordPress landscape. With over 40,000 plugins currently in use, WordPress recently developed the Health Check plugin. This plugin will perform a number of checks on your WordPress install to detect common configuration errors and known issues. And at the first release, there were many. The Health Check plugin will soon be added to the Core coding in Phase 2.
The Health Check plugin could save users a lot of headaches moving forward. This tool spots plugin integration conflicts and displays PHP versions that are listed straight away. The Health Check shows critical information about your WordPress configuration and items that require your attention. It also provides debug information, troubleshooting, PHP information, and tools. In the Health Check PHP information tab, you will be able to look up more detailed server configurations than what is normally required. The page allows you to view all available configuration options for your PHP setup.
Updating plugins can get tiring very fast!
It all sounds great, but has anyone noticed the number of time-consuming tasks building up here? Updating plugins are one of the main hidden costs of managing your own website.
How to know which plugins don’t go together? You start by watching a few WordPress tutorials to learn how the new Gutenberg editor works, then you have to learn when to use the Classic Editor, which plugins will still not work with Gutenberg and how exactly one uses the Health Check plugin. There are a few Health Check plugin online tutorials, but if you attempt to troubleshoot plugins on your own, it is still tricky. Users have complained about not being able to see the homepage when done incorrectly.
Plugin updating can get old very fast, especially when you need to implement changes. Not to mention how futile purchased license subscriptions can be if the plugin developer cannot resolve an error. For example, what happens when you’re working alone in the middle of the night and you click the wrong update button?
Build a team – Prioritize your work – Delegate
If the hidden cost of owning your website is time, consider implementing these three proven time-management disciplines:
- Build a team. “Don’t wait for a fire to form a fire brigade”. Find skilled programmers ahead of time who are capable and willing to take on small website jobs. Identify those who you can count on for your website needs when the time arises.
- Prioritize. Squeaky wheels get the grease. It’s easy to get caught up in minor color and design changes. Start with your website content, remove barriers that may prevent your content from being seen by search engines.
- Delegate or outsource complex website tasks to professionals.
Choose full-service website hosting and management
Managing websites has become a skilled job. Be sure your hosting provider is keeping up with the fast-paced WordPress environment and can handle any issues that come up with your WordPress website.
Most hosting providers do not manage themes and plugins upgrades. Low-cost hosting plans offer very little other than a place to park your website in a shared environment. And unless you are doing your own backups, you cannot rely on many hosting providers to keep a current version of your website, update it, or help you when it goes down.
Fortunately, as the WordPress landscape quickly changes around us, many hosting providers are now offering full-service website hosting and management.
If your host only gives you a place to park your WordPress website, you should consider switching to one that offers WordPress managed hosting. We’d be happy to help you get started. WP HIVE HOSTING members get full-service monthly management included with their membership. Manage your WordPress website automatically and save time with plans starting at $29 per month.
Michael Paragon – WP Hive hosting co-founder & president, is an award-winning online marketer and web designer specializing in WordPress help desk support, SEO and WPML Multilingual CMS.