Budgeting a Website: Are You Ready to Commit to Maintenance?
Too often we see websites "under construction," "coming soon" or announcing events that were over long ago. When a site becomes outdated it tells visitors that the site owner is sloppy and unreliable. It announces that there is no reason to look further at the site or to return in the future.
Even an ignored site has a voice.
Sometimes companies rush to put a website up because their competition has a site or because they believe it's a magic way to increase sales automatically. They underestimate the time and expense needed to compete in what is becoming a fierce marketplace.
Putting up a quick website and forgetting it is at the very least, a waste of money and at the worst, an ongoing negative advertisement. The irony here is that while a good Web site needs to be marketed, a bad site is liable to pop up and make a company look bad at any time.
No commitment phobias allowed ...
One of the most important things to keep in mind when developing a website is that maintenance of the site after creation is just as important as initial development. Keeping information fresh and up to date is a considerable commitment that cannot be overlooked.
A website is just one piece of a much larger marketing picture and all the pieces need to be considered during development. So, approach a website with the understanding that it is an ongoing job.
- Do not put up a page that says "under construction." And NEVER put up a temporary page that lists a date when the site will be completed. It's not necessarily wrong to register a domain and have a temporary page, however, it's much better to put up a single page that gives some useful information to potential visitors while you work on developing the full site.
If you have a small budget for maintenance:
- Limit time-sensitive content:
- Do not include a calendar or intentionally variable content. These both require a tremendous effort and commitment of staff and financial resources.
- Do not promise new items by a particular date.
- Wherever possible eliminate dating items on the site.
- But, you must be prepared to keep up with a few things:
- Addresses, phone numbers, staff lists and/or photos must be currrent.
- Copyright notices on pages need to be kept up to date.
- Events in the company and outside events in the community, nation or worldwide may influence the appropriateness of a site's contents.
- No matter what the budget, stated deadlines must be met or they should not be announced at all. Even with the best of intentions, deadlines can be missed. Whenever possible, do not make announements about upcoming services, products, or site content that include a deadline date.
The easiest way to waste money on a website, is to underbudget and fail to realize the ongoing requirements necessary to keep the site up to date. Any other efforts such as search engine optimization will also be wasted. Visitors may find the site, may visit it once. But it they find outdated or irrelevant content, the next site is just a click away.