December 1, 2009 | Web Design
A new web site launch or redesign is an exciting project. After months of work, you are finally ready to present your new web site to the world. And you’re also pretty excited to have that big project finally done. Unfortunately, you should never think of your web site as complete, because it should be a living and thriving entity.
There are many reasons why a Web site cannot be shelved and not thought about again.
- Content should be up-to-date. Your business is always changing. You may have new services, different hours, a special sale, additional staff, etc. Many changes that happen in your business need to be reflected in the content of your web site.
- Content should be new and engaging. Beyond updates that reflect your offline business, your web site ideally should have some content that gets updated as a way to build your web site into your marketing plan. This could be as full-blown as a blog, but may just be a smaller “news” area, an articles library, etc.
- Links become broken. No, it’s not evil elves, but yes sometimes links stop working. For example, if you link to a page on another web site, and that web site goes through a redesign, you may find that your direct link no longer goes to the content you planned. Therefore, either manually or using an automated tool, you need to check your site for broken links.
- Search Engine Optimization is always changing. There are universal best-practices for search engine optimization, such as putting key words in your H1 tags, creating descriptive tags for your images, etc. But there are other areas of SEO that are a moving target. Depending on how closely you want to follow that game you may find yourself making some updates to appear better in search results. One example is that meta description tags have always been a sentence-like description of the site. But more recently, there seems to be a premium for keeping that description succint, generally less than about 160 characters.
- Software upgrades. You may not think that a web site needs software updates, but they sometimes do. Depending on the technology that is driving your site, you may need to upgrade software such as WordPress and the related plugins. And whenever you do an upgrade there is a small chance that something on your site will no longer work. If you use popular software and plugins this is less likely a problem, because someone else will have already figured out a solution. But you need to budget time to keep up with upgrades.
- Technology changes. The technology available to build and view web sites is constantly changing, and hopefully improving. At the time you launch your site you have to make decisions about what are “best practices” today, knowing that those will change as technology changes.
- Tastes change. You know how you are able to look at a photograph and know it was taken years ago? You can tell by the hairstyles and clothes of the people, you may also be able to tell by the technology of the photo (ie a black & white print). This can be similar with web sites. Sometimes you look at a web site and just know it feels out of date. As an example (right now in December 2009) it is popular for body text to be set with a lot of leading (line space) and usually in a gray rather than true black. This is highly readable, but I still predict it will not be the trend 10 years from now.
Now that you know that your web site is something that needs continual attention, make sure you budget for that work. You should plan for time internally checking that content is up-to-date and accurate. You should also budget some time with your web developer for technology upgrades.