5 reasons your website is never finished (and how it costs you money to ignore them)

website launch tips

5 reasons your website is never finished (and how it costs you money to ignore them)

So you’ve launched your website, you’ve tested it, the reviews are in, and everyone thinks it’s beautiful but… is it done?

One common mistake that business owners make after launching their new websites is to let them sit. And sit. And sit. But the truth is that your website is never truly done. If you think it’s done, you’re in for a rude awakening.

What we hear frequently from small business owners in particular is: “My competitor’s site is so much more _____.” Clean, clear, organized, fill in the blank. And yet, very often, those competitors’ sites aren’t even that good. Truly. 

So we look at a few things:

  1. When did you launch?
  2. How frequently do you create new content for the site?
  3. What strategies do you employ actively to drive people back to your website?
  4. Is your site a brochure or an active participant in your brand’s overall identity?
  5. Do you tweak and add things, testing as you go, updating the homepage, testing out new messages and campaigns? Or… no?

Many businesses still don’t have websites or they’re so terribly outdated and sad—not mobile-friendly, not clear or fast, bogged down with too much copy, so absolutely NOT aimed at making a visitor’s life easier—that we agree: You do need a new site—because it’s doing nothing for your brand image as it is. But is that cost-effective or smart? NO. Letting your site sit for months or years unattended, then completely overhauling is missing the point of having a website in the first place.

Look, websites age. And not like wine or cheese.

Here are five reasons why—if you want to get the most out of your website—it shouldn’t ever really be considered “done.”

1. Your Website Is a Latchkey Rescue Pet

If left to its own devices, it’ll probably survive—but it won’t thrive. It needs people, interaction, sustenance, and care to enjoy a worthwhile existence.

You have to boost its effectiveness over time, invest long-term so that it gets better, give it regular attention—not just when someone reports a bug but at least twice per month. Don’t have time? That’s what experts and consultants are for.

Otherwise, you’re better off not having a site at all. In fact, if there’s no money left over in the budget for a post-launch strategy, you’re facing an uphill battle.

Famed marketing guru Seth Godin once wrote:

Great projects are gardens. They are tended, they shift, they grow…. By all means, build. But don’t finish. Don’t walk away.

Building a website is not just about that initial build-and-launch process. It’s not just about occasional maintenance or bug fixes. It’s about tending that garden, sowing new seeds, pruning what’s there, and evolving it over time.

Benefits? You remind search engines that you’re there. You create content via blogs and additional shareable resources to then publicize on social media, in email marketing, and elsewhere.

2. You’ll Save Money in the Long Run

One of my favorite web designers, Paul Boag, describes what he calls the “boom/bust cycle” of having to continuously redesign your website because you haven’t changed it gradually over time:

Most company websites exist in a constant boom/bust cycle, with periodic redesigns every few years. Unfortunately, there are two problems with that approach.

First, each redesign usually consists of entirely throwing out the old site and starting from scratch. This is a huge waste of money. The only reason this happens is that the site has been neglected for so long…. If the site is continually evolved, this is not necessary.

The second problem is that the website is only really at its peak performance when it has just been redesigned. The design begins to look dated, the technology becomes superseded by what the competition are doing, and the content fails to update as the organization changes. Before long, it is an embarrassment and so is more of a hindrance than a help.

And who wants to go through a complete redesign every few years anyway? If keeping the website fresh is part of your ongoing marketing efforts—in essence, becoming something you just do without thinking about it—you’re saving yourself money in the long run.

3. Stop the Cycle of Abuse & Neglect

It’s important to track what your users are doing. You can only know so much about those users at the time of launch.

Having a successful website is about generating feedback from your users, watching trends in their behavior, adding new content, and serving them the best experience you can. Why are you ignoring them?

Free Strategic Guide

for small businesses

Communications strategy for small businesses GET IT NOW!

By studying the Analytics of your site, receiving feedback through forms, and looking at the effectiveness of your various pages and website elements, you can then make changes over time to create a better overall user experience.

4. SEO, SEO, SEO

We all know what it is by now—attracting the attention of search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But SEO is an ongoing process, not something that’s achieved once:

I want to be #1 on Google right after launch!

and then never tended to again. In order to keep strong search engine ranking, you have to continuously update your website, commit to adding new content steadily, and generally improve your site over time.

Employ various tactics to draw people to parts of your site you think don’t get enough attention. Do it liberally, test different campaigns and platforms. Never stop testing, in fact, until you have a system in place that’s generating the kind of SMART goal-related results you expect to see—not just for your ego via vanity metrics (as in: YAY! We got 300 likes on that post because we boosted it!), but for your business as a whole.

5. The Not-Right-Now / Not-in-Budget Problem

Remember that awesome idea you and your team had as you were working with your developer to build out  your website, but that there wasn’t time or money for at the time?

By committing to improving the site over time, you can forecast how you can achieve that goal. Building a scalable website, which should be a priority for all business owners, makes this possible.

Work with your developer to figure out how to achieve that goal and build in that big-bad idea! Need a post-launch plan and don’t have anyone to help you build one? We got you.

4 Comments
Share Post

Sarah Williams

Founder & director of 816 New York and passionate about all things strategy.

4
Leave a Reply

avatar
2 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
Sarah WilliamsDamirAnja Skrba Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Anja Skrba
Guest
Anja Skrba

I just think it’s great how Sarah pointed out the importance of constantly working on your SEO! I gave it a shoutout on my socials, hoping that one day this info will get deep into people’s brains 🙂

Damir
Guest
Damir

I don’t get those people! I see a lot of active yet very outdated websites. What are those people thinking?! You gotta follow trends, and of course, use Analytics to make it better, more user-friendly… It’s just common sense, but I guess many are not ‘blessed’ with it.

I also shared it on my Twitter and G+ – hope others will find value in it too 🙂