Should You Update Your Website?
by Dale A. Robbins
A website can be
an incredible tool to communicate your information, or to market
your product to a world-wide audience. Like all other methods of
mass communication, effective websites will be the product of
considerable planning, development and resources. However, once
you've made your initial investment and have your site up and
running, the bigger job still lies ahead to keep it updated and
Life has taught me some important
lessons about the necessity of maintenance. If you don't take
care of your health, you'll get sick... if you don't paint your
house, it will rot... and if you don't change the oil in your
car frequently, someday you'll have the blissful opportunity to
replace your engine. My dentist has this same insight, and in an
attempt to communicate the importance of maintaining regular
dental care, he displays a very effective sign in his office. It
says, "Ignore your teeth, and they'll go away."
The same is true with your web site.
Despite all the time or money you put into its design and
hosting, if you neglect it, it will provide modest or little
benefit in return. The success of your web venture will rely
much on the amount of attention and maintenance you put into it.
Four Reasons Why
Regular Web Maintenance is Important
(1) Fresh material added regularly
to your site keeps visitors coming back to see what's new. Some
sites are constantly updated by the natural activity of their
business, such as news, real estate, classified ads or online
catalogs. However every site should routinely feature creative
new content, text, graphics or images, to build the traffic of repeat
visitors. Some sites add such features as scrolling news
headlines, current time/temperature, discussion boards, or
ad-your-own-link pages to stimulate a growing viewership. By all
means, don't limit your web to a static, stale presentation.
Spending the time and resources to maintain freshness,
usefulness and relevancy will reap a tremendous dividend.
(2) Websites must continually evolve
and be refined to meet the increasing demands of your audience
or client base, as well as reflect the progressing technologies
and new browser versions. As time goes by, you may see the
usefulness of adding a search tool, automated forms, a mailing
list database or other interactive functions. You may discover
better ways to organize your information or improve the
usability of your site. You may also come up with more features
to add which do nothing more than help provide some
benefit to your visitors, which is a sure-fire
way to build a rapport with future clients or customers.
(3) The success of your website is
largely dependent on whether people can find your site from a
search engine or link index. Such directories are constantly
changing the way they rank and display sites, and some search
engines will not index your site at all unless your pages
contain appropriate meta tags, well-structured content or
error-free HTML code. This all
requires on-going supervision and interaction to assure that
your site remains listed properly.
(4) There should
always be a constant technical supervision of your site to keep
it running smoothly. Just like in all other aspects of life's
journey, the cyber-highway also has it's pot-holes and road
hazards. You want to make sure your host server is always doing
what it's supposed to, that your files and file directory
structures remain intact, and that all your links are still
functional. You should also review a regular report of site
statistics, to see how much traffic you are getting, where it's
coming from, in order to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your
web. Anyone who relies on their site for business purposes
should have it monitored daily.
Maintenance for a small site may take as little as a few
hours a month. A large site may be a full-time
job to maintain. However, whether large or small, outsourcing
your web maintenance can be a very smart choice. Among other
reasons, a maintenance firm such as ours has an unlimited
variety of technical resources, personnel and programmers
available, whose broad experience easily exceeds that of any
company's full-time web staff. In other words, we can do it all,
while company personnel may only have a narrow focus of
expertise. And outsourcing saves value resource dollars from
unnecessary personnel, benefits or office space.