What Should Nonprofits Expect from Different Levels of Drupal Website Maintenance Support?

What Should Nonprofits Expect from Different Levels of Drupal Website Maintenance Support

Laura S. Quinn, a website coach and guide for nonprofits, recently shared insights on LinkedIn about what nonprofits should expect from different Drupal website maintenance support levels. Laura's post, informed by an expert response from Joel Bush at Capellic, aims to clarify the scope of services available at various maintenance tiers. The post sparked a few responses from the community, highlighting the relevance of the discussion.

Laura S Quinn
Laura S. Quinn

"When you have an open source website -- WordPress or Drupal -- it's important to also have a website firm partner who will maintain the site over time for you. The most obvious, and critical, thing this gets you is security updates, but it's not the only, or the most time consuming."

Laura writes.

Basic support, costing around $100 per month, includes updates to Drupal core and contributed modules but is limited in scope. It does not address issues from broken modules, lacks significant bug triaging, and leaves clients to decipher error logs on their own. Additionally, while tools are provided, there is no guidance on utilizing them effectively, and clients must contact the hosting provider directly in case of downtime, who may not always assist with Drupal-specific issues.

The Most Common support level, ranging from $150 to $225 per month, offers more comprehensive services. This includes not only module updates but also assistance when these updates cause problems. Firms providing this level of support monitor the site’s uptime and troubleshoot or coordinate problem resolution. They are also available to receive support requests, though the hours allocated to address these requests can vary by agency. This level of support ensures a more proactive approach to maintaining the website's functionality and addressing issues as they arise.

The Recommended support level, requiring 7-15 hours per month or more, provides the most robust maintenance. It includes an uptime commitment, ensuring the website remains accessible and functional. Regular reviews and triaging of Drupal error logs are conducted, with dedicated monthly hours to address any issues found. This helps prevent the accumulation of technical debt by ensuring that bugs and issues reported by clients are promptly reviewed and resolved. This comprehensive level of support is designed to provide nonprofits with peace of mind, knowing that their website is being meticulously maintained and any potential issues are being proactively managed.

Laura’s post received several insightful comments from the Drupal community. Stephen Musgrave from Capelic remarked, 

Stephen Musgrave
Stephen Musgrave

"Somewhere between the "covering the ops" list above and Ben Di Maggio's "these strategic tasks should also be included" is also the idea of "keeping up with "Modern Drupal." 

Stephen highlighted that upgrading Drupal used to be a major, painful task, particularly when moving from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, often involving a complete rebuild and migration. However, he explained that the process has significantly improved with newer versions. Upgrading between major versions, such as from Drupal 8 to 9, 10, and soon to 11, now requires much less effort, typically between 50 to 100 hours. This streamlined process focuses more on managing deprecations and end-of-life deadlines of underlying technologies like Symfony and CKEditor, making it less disruptive and more budget-friendly.

Johanna Bates added, 

Johanna Bates
Johanna Bates

"A great support partner doesn't just jump to perform any task you ask for (transactional). Instead, a great support provider is consultative; they bring their experience to the table in service of your org, your website's editors, and your site's audiences."

According to her, strategic conversations are often required beyond simply addressing bug tickets, ensuring that both sides share expertise and learn from each other.

Ben Di Maggio also contributed, 

bdimaggio Profile Image
Ben Di Maggio

"We've found, especially with larger/more complex sites, that good support requires strategic and design help as well as tech help. It's dangerously easy to approach maintenance/support as purely technical."

It can lead to a website drifting away from its strategic and design goals, necessitating expensive redesigns sooner than expected. Ben also stressed the importance of regular client/team check-ins to review strategic changes and maintain clear communication. He highlighted the need for editor-experience support to address any issues editors might face with content entry, thereby maximizing the value of the initial investment.

By sharing this detailed analysis and incorporating feedback from other experts, Laura S. Quinn emphasizes the importance of selecting the appropriate level of support to ensure the security, functionality, and longevity of nonprofit websites. Her efforts to clarify these maintenance tiers help nonprofits make more informed decisions about their website partnerships and ongoing support needs. 

Read the full post here.

Disclosure: This content is produced with the assistance of AI.

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