A few short years we all assumed that the future was one in which a business could create a website, pay the hosting bill and generate leads (or sales) 24/7 for almost no cost.
That future didn’t eventuate.
Not even close.
Instead we have businesses struggling to comprehend an increasingly complex digital ecosystem and the larger than expected ongoing costs required to maintain a successful web presence.
Across a range of industries and clients we (weareva.com.au) see that sites left unattended decline on all fronts and fail to deliver useful returns for their owners.
To understand how this happens I propose that there are several powerful forces at work that you have to keep up with as best you can.
The forces cross Aesthetic, Technical and Experiential bounds.
Aesthetic Forces - This area is simply dealing with how your site looks. Time marches on and even a mint condition car from 1978 looks old compared to a new car. Humans are wired to somehow know what “new” looks like. A site that is 5 years old will look 5 years old and your customers spend plenty of time online looking at prettier sites and shiny new apps. How important this is varies from industry to industry but I don’t think anyone wants an old looking site.
Technical Forces - These forces come in 2 main areas. The first are the changes required by “search algorithms” to keep your site being found and indexed on search engines.
If having your site constantly ranking organically is important then this is an almost endless task. Constantly helping your users to find what they need by creating new content and refining existing content is an ongoing commitment. Using the data you see in Google Analytics takes the guess work away but there is simply no way to create quality content cheaply.
The other area of technical change is to the “code” that makes your site run efficiently and safely.
Code on the server and in the browser (front end and back end) needs updates, patches and fixes to remain secure, fast and lay the groundwork for the kinds of experiences that users come to expect.
Example: IF your site was built before their was the ability to login via Facebook you need to add that functionality now as users do expect that.
Experiential Forces - Your users understand that your company isn’t Airbnb/Uber/Apple/Google or Facebook and they will tolerate your site not giving them the “user experience” that they get when they use those sites/apps. The downside is that they probably don’t give you as much leeway as you’d like. The bar of user experience is pushed ever higher by the biggest companies in the world and you at least have to try and stay in the game. Letting your site fall further and further behind via inaction will certainly paint your business in a poor light.
If this all sounds like a money grab from web designers/developers then I encourage you to look around. It is pretty obvious that the online and offline world aren’t that dissimilar.
- Real Estate agents don’t drive old cars and/or wear old clothes.
- Restaurants change menus and some of the decor at least a few times per year
- Teen fashion stores don’t play So Fresh: The Hits of Spring 2000
- A top level dept store doesn’t have staff in 5 year old uniforms.
Simply stated, your site will cost you time and money each and every year. As a guide I’d suggest that if you expect your site to be a 24/7 sales tool then consider the salary of a gun saleswoman and go from there.
Your website is an investment not a cost.