Your new, fantabulous, mobile-friendly website is launched, the accolades are pouring in, and your CEO is beaming like a proud parent. Time to relax with a few margaritas, declare victory, and move on to something else, right?
Wellllll… sort of.
With a brochure or newspaper ad, you know there’s an end point. Once the ink hits the paper, you can put it behind you and move on to the next thing.
Your website? Not so much.
One of the greatest things about websites is that they’re never set in stone. You can always tweak and improve. Find a typo? Log in and fix it. Want to launch a new promotion? You can set it all up in a jiffy. (Assuming you’re using a decent Content Management System.)
Of course, that’s also one of the worst things about websites – they’re never really done.
A process, not a project.
So put down the margarita, roll up your sleeves, and take these next steps to get the most out of your website:
Build the website into every aspect of your marketing strategy.
A website never closes, so it can add availability, immediacy, and information (tracking) to everything you do. Use your web site as leverage to increase the impact of everything else in traditional media, from community appearances to direct mail and advertising.
Adopt a constant improvement philosophy.
Never consider your website “done”. Keep an eye on the leaders on the web, not just your competition. How can you lead the way? Budget for incremental upgrades.
Budget time and attention for maintenance.
Websites are about connecting to people, not machines. It takes real live human beings making real live efforts to keep a web site fresh and interesting. Budget staff time as well as dollars.
Plan on a major website update every three years.
This is only a rough rule of thumb, of course, but technology constantly changes and it’s impossible to predict exactly what your members are going to be next year, let alone in three years. It’s also hard to tell exactly where your products and your brand will evolve. Set expectations (and budget) so you can revisit your website every few years and keep up.
The good news is that a “major update” doesn’t necessarily mean changing vendors or technology. If you’re using a modern, well-maintained CMS and working with skilled designers and developers, updating your site in the future is much easier, since you don’t have to re-create content or make massive technology changes.