You’d be amazed at how many website owners neglect their websites post-launch. Whether you’re investing $100 or $100,000 into your website, you need to get the best out of your investment – just like you would any other. Would you hire an employee and ignore their needs for growth or career development? Of course you wouldn’t, so why invest your valuable time and money into your website and not give it the love and attention it needs? In all fairness, most website owners don’t neglect their websites out of malice or spite, just simple ignorance about its importance and relevancy.
For highly dynamic, database-driven websites, maintenance is quite easily valued and understood. Most corporate websites, however, (particularly those belonging to SME’s) aren’t dynamic – they’re static. It’s because of this that most people don’t understand what exactly needs to be maintained. In order to understand this, let’s go back to the basic question of why you have a website in the first place. Assuming you’re a business or some other offline entity, you’re most likely looking to communicate a message through your website – and one that’s likely to be crucial to your business. It may be your list of services or products, a location map, contact information, or the like. This information may certainly change over time, but its presentation needs to adapt to trends and your audience’s utilization of this information.
Once you’ve launched your website, you need to keep your eyes on the stats. Your website’s analytics will help you understand what parts of your message(s) are being viewed, where the traffic to that content is coming from, and how long people spend reading/engaging with your content. This crucial data will highlight areas of your website that aren’t getting enough attention, and those that are. Pages that are being neglected may be suffering because of a technical glitch, poorly positioned navigation, a badly designed user experience, or just poorly presented content. Having a website that’s designed and built to your liking isn’t enough – your audience needs to agree, and the stats are their voices.
As ridiculous as this may sound, you’d be surprised at how many websites (even small, static websites) sit on the web for months or even years, with technical bugs that prevent users from accessing certain content. In fact, we recall a client that had server errors being displayed across the website, but had no clue because they had never visited their own site beyond the homepage!
So, what do you do when you’ve noticed problematic areas of the website? Panicking isn’t an option. You need to figure out why you’re facing these issues, and put together an action plan to fix them. Having a qualified and responsible digital agency always helps. Here’s a practical example of how we maintain static websites for organizations…
Let’s say we launch a website for a client. From the day the site launches we keep a close eye on the traffic, server error logs, and other technical data from the server. As the days, weeks and months pass, we identify areas of the data that stand out. It may be a sudden spike in traffic, a sudden swarm of errors on the server, or excessive bandwidth issues. The list of things we track is quite extensive, but essentially our goal is to identify problem areas. Let’s assume we find that all the pages on the site have been visited at least once per day over the past three weeks – except one. That’s something that catches our attention. We’ll begin filtering through the possibilities, starting from a manual check to make sure the page is accessible to reviewing the navigational structure with a senior member of our UX (User Experience) team. We’ll then put a plan in place to rectify the issue(s). Once executed, we continue monitoring the situation to make sure that the implementations are doing what they’re meant to.
Website maintenance (yes, even for a static one) is a crucial part of ensuring that your content is being viewed, your message is being received, and your investment being returned. It doesn’t cost all that much, but it’s the “responsible” thing to do. Get the most out of your website. Give it some love, and it’ll return every bit of it back.