The words Sellin' Lemons superinposed over an image of a lemon

WordPress Websites are not “Set and Forget.”

I used to view buying a website like I view ordering a meal at a nice restaurant. Figure out what I want, figure out the price, and if the two concepts meet with no friction given the amount of money in my bank account, go for it. The meal is prepared and enjoyed, and then pretty much forgotten about, barring food poisoning or other unpleasantness.

With websites (where instead of buying, I’m selling) it was “what functionality do you want, where you want the buttons, what color do you want?” at which point I would quote a price, sign a contract, design the site, and go on my way.

Then I started hearing back from clients 6 months to a year later that they wanted to add a new button on the homepage.

I’d go in to add that new button, and realize that their WordPress install needed 20+ code updates, and what would be a simple fix (just add a button beside those other buttons) was now an all-day project, for which I ate the cost, because I did such a poor job of explaining when I made the site that they need to keep it updated.

Websites are less like meals, and more like cars. Cars have an upfront cost, but they also have ongoing costs like tires, engine oil, and gasoline. Websites have an upfront cost, but also ongoing ones like maintenance, backups, and code audits.

When I sell a site, a large part of my role is that of educator. Like a car salesman in 1920 needed to explain what an oil change or tire rotation is, I need to explain that there is upkeep involved with a website.

Websites are cars, and I’ve been selling lemons. Not lemons in the sense that there is a hidden defect, but lemons in the sense that I have not set the proper expectation for site ownership during the sales process, and their car is going to run out of oil and start making sounds only car mechanics can identify.

They’ll think I was hiding something from them when I sold them this car that all of a sudden needs oil. They’ll think I sold them a lemon.

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