You’ve hired a designer, loaded your content, and gotten your domain ready. It’s time to launch your website and cross the project off the ever-growing to do list! Right? Not so fast.
Like a wedding is to a marriage, the launch date is just the beginning of your site’s life as a dynamic entity that is always growing and changing. Many web projects fail not during development, but after launch, when they get treated as a bulletin board of sorts – left to sit unchanged, with old information hanging from rusty staples, or the opposite, plastered with too much information and serving as a catch all for everything an organization has going on.
In reality, a website is a marketing tool designed to communicate a message to a target audience and to engage returning visitors with dynamic and strategic content. It’s not about promoting everything that matters to you as much as it’s about generating new and interesting content your audience wants to read.
Here’s what you should be doing on a regular basis to make sure your site is fresh, relevant and effective:
Aim to post something new and dynamic at least once a week (even better if once a day!). Your blog, stories or news sections are great places to add interesting, engaging and helpful content that will motivate people to come back to your site on a regular basis. Tip: Make sure to build your site on a powerful CMS like TAG Tools that allows you to easily update and add this content without relying on your web guy or firm.
Set aside a time each month to do a more thorough content check up. This is a great time to add new photos, videos or pages and information from recent developments. You should also look for old information or sections that need to be updated. There’s nothing worse than a site with events or promotions that ended a month ago, or a blog that hasn’t been updated in weeks. Make sure you’re regularly cleaning things out and adding new information so your site never looks abandoned.
Step back from the daily grind and take a thorough look at your site, evaluating if any updates need to be made as a whole. Click through page by page and evaluate design, content, structure, and SEO. This is your chance to look with a new set of eyes at the overall functionality and flow of the site. Is it organized and easy to understand? Has any messaging changed? Can you add more visuals and icons, or maybe redesign the home page to give a fresh look without totally revamping the site? Small tweaks over time can help extend the life of your site.
Web years are like dog years. With technology constantly changing, a site that was built just a year or two ago can look dated or rely on limiting technology. On a yearly basis, honestly look at whether it’s time for a site rebuild. The typical shelf life for a site is around two years, and as with your smart phone, tablet and other technology in your life, it might be time for an upgrade.
It’s time to change the way you think about your website, moving from a one-and-done approach to an ongoing mental awareness of how you can use your site to communicate with your audience and constantly create an engaging online experience. While this takes constant tending and care, the results will be well worth the effort.