Why you can’t “set and forget” a website

Recently, I was reviewing infomercials (they are a great source of creative ideas). A popular TV pitchman had the audience repeating the mantra, “just set it and forget it!

Website Set And Forget

Set And Forget Might Work For BBQ Chicken, But Not Your Website

While this might be an exciting idea for a dinner appliance, it’s suicide for your website. Like a car or a house, your website requires regular, on-going maintenance.

What is “Website Maintenance”?

I define website maintenance as both the art and science of keeping a website current in both technology and (Killer Kopy™) content. That means assuring proper functionality (how users move around the pages), verifying the accuracy of copy, fixing any broken links and images as well as performing an overall brand/positioning assessment of the site to make sure it reflects how you and /or your company wants to be perceived online.

An easy metaphor to explain website maintenance is home maintenance.

You can take a look at your home for light bulbs that need to be replaced, look to see if there are any new cracks in the foundation, maybe a room needs some new paint, tiles or carpet.

The same is true of your website. It’s good practice to review your site at least once a month.

Website review tips:

  • Check date sensitive content such as an announcement of an upcoming event. After the date passes, it should no longer be “upcoming” and the date or deadline changed. The longer the old date remains, the more out-of-date your website appears to your visitors.
  • Even though computers “don’t make mistakes”, functional elements of your website including contact us forms, event registrations, product purchase links and other e-commerce and database functionality should be checked. Often, these break due to an indirect parameter being changed somewhere else on the site. You don’t need to check everything each month, just run a random spot check or pick a section of your site each month to review.
  • Check external links (links to other sites) on your site. There are several free utilities that can provide this function for you. Recently, I had someone send me an email with a link in her signature that was broken…
  • You should review as many pages on your site as you can, paying special attention to the links in the navigation bar(s), make sure the visual elements appear correctly on all pages. This can be done very quickly to find the most obvious errors.
  • Check for images that are not displaying correctly or have the dreaded “red x”. This can usually be done by skimming the pages quickly – you may realise that some images load too slowly (all you need to do is reduce the file’s resolution to a web optimised format.)

I highly recommend taking notes as you do your website review. You’ll get ideas for immediate and future improvement that can become part of your tactical and strategic deployment respectively.

What do you do when you find an issue?

It depends. The analogy to home maintenance is relevant here. Unless you ARE a professional, there are some things you may need help with, but there are also many things you can do yourself.

This is where many people get intimidated with web technology. Most people feel comfortable changing a light bulb or tightening a screw on the hinge of a kitchen cabinet, but lack confidence to hang a few frames on a wall (in line), the equivalent of updating text on your website.

We advise our clients to use a variety of software and online services (many of them FREE) to handle many of these tasks without dealing with expensive IT people and webmasters who want to fleece you every time you need to do an update to your site.

Keeping up with the never-ending technological changes

I am not a proponent of being on the ‘bleeding edge’ of technological innovations because you can literally bleed to death with the cuts and bruises involved with alpha and beta testing unproven innovations.

I am an advocate that ONCE PROVEN, you jump on to the technology and stick with it until something considerably better, cheaper, faster can replace it.

I am opposed to constantly dabbling in new things for the fun of it. Time is money and with limited resources, you need to be mindful that tinkling with technology is not a success strategy. When you indulge in it, you’re PLAYING, not working.

We keep our clients aware of the latest and greatest tools and services via an established membership of hundreds of small business entrepreneurs and executives who keep us informed. It’s a resource pool you simply can’t match on your own. It’s like having 100 researchers out there doing all the testing for you!

One way to determine where you stand technologically is to review your competitors’ sites to look for functionality they have that you want to add to yours. Make a list of what you find along as well as where it was for future reference.

Why do websites need on-going maintenance?

Studies have shown people typically visit a website more than once before deciding to make a purchase or to do business with a company or organisation. People like seeing fresh content and are discouraged when they come across outdated items and broken links or other components.

Old, outdated content reflects a stagnant site causing suspects and prospects to doubt the company’s relevance and authority. Sometimes these impressions are subtle and subconscious.

First impressions are important. We all know that. For example, if a retail store’s window has a crack in it, or the chairs in dentist’s reception area are worn and torn, you quickly (instantly) lose faith in that business’ credibility.

Since your website is often the first thing your suspects and prospects see, it’s self-evident that you want to put your best foot forward. As the adage goes “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

The real reason you need on-going maintenance is because the Internet is constantly evolving with new Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) algorithms, new players on the field and of course brilliant new innovations. For this reason alone, you have to keep up, otherwise you get obsoleted.

The rules of SEO keep changing almost daily. In some instances, the shifts are dramatic, at other times they just erode slowly over time. Regardless, without tweaking, fine tuning and refining your approach, you risk getting left behind which means suspects and prospects have more and more difficulty finding you, which means your sales will weaken and eventually dry up.

What if you need more than just a check up?

Sometimes a whole new website or an extreme makeover of an existing site is in order. If when you assess your site you find it’s much more than just the content that needs a facelift, you may consider a rebuild or makeover.

Before you do, you need to assess what you currently have. For example, your website’s PR ranking. A total rebuild may destroy its currently position and consequently its Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Other considerations must be taken into consideration that are beyond today’s discussion.

We offer this advice to our clients to prevent them from destroying the value of their current asset. With a strategic approach, it’s possible to leverage all your existing value while transforming the site into its new incarnation.

So what should you do?

  • You can try to go it alone. You can try to keep up with accelerating change, information that is doubling every 18 months and innovations being announced DAILY…
  • You can hire an IT company or web design company whose business model is based on CHARGING YOU AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO GROW THEIR BUSINESS.
  • Or you could join our community that will empower you to understand what’s what in clear English, make sure you have the most relevant up-to-date information and most important – the knowledge to never, ever get taken advantage of by unscrupulous web design companies and other IT charlatans.

Your website is no longer an accessory to your business –
It’s the primary portal or doorway to new leads.

You can either have it wide open, inviting and alluring for prospects to walk in, or it can remain shut.

It’s your choice. It’s your business. It’s your future.

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