A call. A question. Awkward silence. А typical situation for “young” web studios, when clients overload them with the question “what includes website tech support?” It can be a problem for a web studio, but it’s quite common and reasonable question for the client.
Before calling this “young” web studio the client for certain had called about ten studios of the same kind, sent a request via e-mail to someone, read some information on someone’s website. But that doesn’t matter. The main thing is that the client faced a variety of “rates, limited packs and hourly wages”, having about it approximately the same idea as all of us have about aliens.
Something similar happened and to us about six years ago. When a client asked us what domain name is and why he needs it, we understood that potential clients need some “informational minimum about technical support”. For the sake of this unknown client we wrote an article.
As well as in classical high school textbooks we will begin with a definition. For some reasons clients sometimes mix up technical support and information one or can't tell the difference between these things properly. We suggest to dot the i’s and cross the t’s: technical support is responsible for site performance, and information one – for its development.
So what do web studios usually include in a “classical” service of technical support of a website?
1. Personal manager. As a rule, after the conclusion of the contract for website service the company shall assign a manager to your project. The project manager will be to supervise your project, report on the performed works, agree on task execution time. In a word – it’s the intermediary between you and developers.
2. Team. If you have far-reaching plans for the project, pay attention to the “types” of people who will support your site. We distinguish three conditional types:
• Technologists & SEO-specialists
If you need only technical support, pay attention to the first and third categories. For information support and site development it is better to address to the second or third ones.
3. SLA (Service Level Agreement) – the agreement signed between you and a studio for a regulation of works of technical support. In it the following questions are discussed: failure notification time, frequency of carrying out technical works on the site, response time of technical support, etc.
At the same time SLA can’t solve the problem of a crashed module, hacking or “that rude girl from technical support”. For one contractor the agreement can really be the standard of work, and for another one it’s no more than “the marketing text” on the site.
4. Domain name. As a rule, any Internet agency assumes operations on registration of your domain name. You’re required just to coordinate it and pay registration and extension.
5. Hosting. That stands for a leasable place (disk) on which your site will be placed after development. Usually Internet agencies suggest to place the site either on their own servers, or on servers of Russian and foreign hosting providers.
This question should be discussed at once for the following reasons:
1) If the site is located on servers of the contractor, in case of failures he bears direct responsibility for its safety and working capacity;
2) That’s not the case with some Russian, and furthermore foreign hosters. There’re cases when customers gave Internet resources to cheap hosting providers from Germany because of desire to save on a hosting, and in a year they got the scattered hard drive. Certainly, without the latest version of a database. To prove hoster’s fault and furthermore to achieve compensation for damage is practically impossible.
The alternative way is to ask the company providing technical support and service to recommend a reliable hoster. As a rule, the companies willingly cooperate with proved hosting providers and give projects on servicing to them.
6. Support of any CMS. Web studios prefer to work at most with two or three management systems. In order not to receive the answer like “oh, we don't work with this CMS”, specify at once on what CMS they develop websites and with which ones they will be able to work in case of transfer. For certain you already have some preferences.
7. Site security. The “minimum” includes approximately the following:
• Protection against hacking and attacks (DDOS, spam, etc.)
• Testing of a security system
• Recommendations about improvement of site security system
8. Work on the technical part of the site. It may include almost any kinds of work on the site after the stage of development. Tasks like “draw us a banner”, “correct a font”, “can we be integrated with 1C” are brought exactly here.
• fixing functional errors (modules, feedback forms, etc.)
• adding new functional elements (blogs, forums, online consultants, installation of attendance counters)
• completing design of website pages, creating new graphical elements
• improving technical characteristics of the site (page load speed, etc.)
• creating, editing, removing pages
9. Constant website operability tracking is also included into technical support:
• ensuring fault tolerance of the site in case of high server loadings. In a word – your site shall work with high performance when having tens or hundreds of thousands users at the same time
• data backup on the principle of “the more often, the better”
• site availability monitoring