There are some websites that we design, build, hand off to the client, and then are done. But there are other sites for which we retain responsibility for the ongoing maintenance and support. These are the sites that led us to tonight’s topic of website development never being done.
For us, these sites are like your car. We need to keep the tank full, check the oil and perform regular maintenance to make sure the sites keep running properly. And yes – just like your car – sometimes they break down and then we have to fix them.
In addition, as we learn new techniques to improve website performance, we update and add necessary features to facilitate those performance enhancements. These aren’t usually complete redesigns. More often, they involve moving items around on the site or tasks such as changing the color of a button, providing more or fewer choices for the user and adding fresh content. This constant tinkering and tweaking is never really done because the internet is not a static ecosystem. It’s ever-changing and your website needs to be as well.
Jim Begins …
Recently, I relaunched my personal blog. While the site now runs on an entirely different WordPress theme, I did not redesign the site. Instead I stuck with the same logo, color scheme and basic layout. I did this to make the transition quicker and to minimize the cost of the relaunch because I was able to do most of the work myself.
What’s been surprising to me is the improvement in some key metrics on the site since switching to the new theme. While my number of visitors has not increased, the length of time they stay on the site and the number of pages they view have increased dramatically. This means people are sticking around longer and clicking between pages while they do so. For me that’s good news because I want people to take the time to learn who I am and how we could potentially work together.
These kinds of dramatic improvements in your websites metrics are the reason to engage in ongoing development. It’s been less than a month since the release of the new site and already I’m beginning to see a return on the investment of time it took to make the changes happen. So that’s my advice with most ongoing website development. Determine ahead of time what kind of return on investment you need to justify the time, effort and dollars required to make the changes happen.
And Shelby Continues …
While Jim’s observations and advice come from his experience with the relaunch of his personal blog, I have found much of what he has shared holds true for the business websites I work on as as well.
I’ve designed and developed many sites where the client wants “X” and I deliver “X,” turn the site administration over to them and we part ways. I call them “project sites” because projects usually have a definitive beginning and ending. When we reach a designated finish line (determined by the client), we hand over the keys, say goodbye and good luck.
But when we hand over the keys and part ways …
- We don’t remind them that consistently publishing blog posts will help their site statistics.
- We don’t do any search engine optimization on new content if and when they publish it.
- We don’t track and report about new internet algorithms and suggest appropriate responses on the site.
- We don’t keep up on industry news and suggest ways to create new blog posts or back links within the site.
- We don’t help them transform their content into email campaigns and social media updates to create more traffic.
We don’t do a lot of things. And many times the websites suffer when these things aren’t done on a regular basis.
What I’ve noticed is that when we maintain an ongoing relationship with a client, we have been able to create strategies and timelines for ongoing website development that has ultimately led to more sales leads and RFQs (request for quotes). We have the statistics to prove it.
In website development, there is always a new design, strategy or algorithm that just might deserve some response or at least consideration and conversation. Being open to the fact that your website development is never done will help you embrace new strategies and hopefully reach your online goals.