Launched your website? What happens next?
Nothing beats the feeling of finally having your shiny new website launched and running. You've worked hard to get to launch date.
Most website projects don't go perfectly smoothly and you've probably encountered problems during the development. Perhaps your developers did not quite understand your requirements; or your designers didn't quite get how you described it; or the selected plugins and widgets do almost what you need them to do, but not quite.
More than likely you've overspent your budget, it probably took longer than you thought it would, and you are still not sure what CSS is, or why you need SSL.
But it is launched, and all those project problems are behind you. You can tell all your customers that you have a new website, and get on with running your business, or your not-for-profit. YAY!
Except that it isn't the end of your work. If you don't pay attention to your website, it won't look after you.
Think about why you built a new website in the first place. You wanted to showcase what you do. You wanted it to be a tool to help your organisation grow, whether that is through getting new customers, new donors, new members, or new readers if you are an author or a blogger. You invested in it to get a return.
None of these things will happen if you leave your website alone.
Here are some of the things that can happen when you don't nurture or care for your website:
- You put your site at risk of hacking if you don't keep your plugins up to date or manage your passwords.
- Your search engine ranking will fade if there is no activity.
- Things might break and you might not even notice.
- People will have no reason to re-visit your site, other than to find your phone number.
- Your design will start to look out of date.
- You won't experience growth in audience or customers.
- New customers, donors, members, readers, will see out of date content and make a judgement about you based on that.
- Your competitors will do better, because they will be updating their websites. They will be engaging with your audience, not you.
- You will fail to leverage the value of your investment and you will be unlikely to gain any ROI on all the time, effort, and money you spent on your website.
Houses, cars, boats, roads, humans, pets, organisations, all need maintenance and repair from time to time. So do websites. The best way to get a return on your website is to continue to put effort into it.
In 16 years of running a website development business, I have seen fantastic new websites fall into disrepair, fail to produce results and just become an expensive online brochure.
So what do you do?
You knew that you needed a website and now you have one. But are people flocking to your site, signing up for your content, sharing you on social media. It's possible that they are not even getting to your website.
How do you make it successful?
There isn't a magic formula, but there is a formula. Website success takes effort.
There are things that you can do regularly and less frequently to help you keep your website healthy.
There are strategies that will help you really leverage your new site to turn it into a lead generating, or a community engagement machine. I'm guessing that this was the vision for your site before you started on your project.
Website Management Tasks
There are 4 areas that need attention on a website: Strategy, Content, User Experience and Technology. I'll discuss those in a moment, but let's talk about what I mean by "needing attention".
Every other aspect of your business or organisation has regular tasks that need attention, so does your website. Here is part of the list of website tasks:
- Tasks, performed daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, or at special times such as holidays, with events, or campaigns
- Unexpected events that need an immediate response.
- Mainenance due to changes in your service or product offering such as pricing changes or inclusions.
- Responses to technology which may be immediate or gradual.
- When a staff member leaves, or starts.
- When you stop providing a service.
- Something happens that affects you aurdience, or when someone makes a statement that affects the reputation of your business.
- When you add or change your social media presence
- Responses to technology issues that stop your website from functioning, such as getting hacked, a failure of your hosting provider, or your CMS or a plugin
- Technology events that you get warning for - such as Google favouring website with SSL Certificates.
- General maintenance such as deleting old posts, removing users, changing pricing, changing staff lists.
- Keywords, blog posts, social media content.
- Activities to attract and drive traffic to your site.
- Activities around your sales/donations/membership funnels.
- Marketing and PR activities.
This is a long list. Each item has a purpose. Some relate to your products and service, and your sales funnels. Some drive traffic to your site. Some build your online presence, and your reputation and some are risk management.
As I said, there is no magic formula. There is, however, a way to manage and monitor the tasks on your website so that it takes less time, reduces your risk, creates more traffic and results in website success.
In my experience I have found it useful to categorise all the tasks into one of four categories.
- Strategy - How your website achieves results for your business.
- User experience (this includes design). How visitors to your site interact with it, how they experience it and how well it meets their needs.
- Content - the value and message that you provide on your site.
- Technology - the mechanisms that run your site, such as Content management system, hosting, security, performance.
Get these four areas of your website right and it will be successful.