When you make a significant investment in a project like website redesign, it seems natural to be relieved when the project is completed. You want to sit back and relax, pleased with your new look.
However, at least in these times, creating a website is more like planting a garden. You’ve done the hard work of tilling the soil, purchasing the plants and arranging everything. But if you sit back and do nothing, you’ll end up with very little to harvest at the end of the season. As web designers, we want to hand you a beautifully planted garden at the end of a project, but we also want you to receive the fruits of your labor. And that takes ongoing work.
Some organizations learn these lessons the hard way, but any modern website that can be edited online with a web browser can also be hacked online with a web browser. The beauty of being able to edit and maintain your own content without purchasing and learning new software is balanced by a cost: If you can access the inner workings of your site with a password, someone will try to get in by hacking. Many people think their business is too small and they needn’t worry about this. They feel that if they don’t collect sensitive information such as credit card numbers, there is no reason their site would be a target. This is simply not true. The majority of attacks we see on websites have a simple goal: to edit the pages and insert links to another company that is paying them by the link. If your site is not maintained and updated with the latest security, you’ll likely find links cropping up on your website like weeds. And usually the links are pointing to something that has nothing to do with your business. If the links are to knock-off purses, consider yourself lucky. More often, the links go to adult sites, or are laced with profanities. Worse, once your site has been hacked, even your most loyal customers may not be able to reach your website, since many web browsers are now blocking sites that have been compromised. And your web host is likely to shut down your site if it contains malware, since you risk infecting other customers who share the same server.
If you don’t have someone within your organization who has the skills and training to update the WordPress core and the security plugins regularly and check for conflicts, you’ll want to budget for a trustworthy provider (hint, hint: SiteInSight has great prices) to complete these updates for you regularly.
You want your garden to grow, not stay as it is. Adding fresh articles to your website improves your search ranking in a number of ways:
Another way to keep your website from decaying is to make sure the homepage doesn’t look the same for three or four years. If yours is a seasonal business, consider changing the main homepage image to match the season. For example, show a snow-covered image in the winter and a sunny image in the summer.
If you have rotating slides on your homepage, considering adding a new one and taking an old one away every quarter.
Check the images on your site for any dead giveaway that the image was selected years ago. Flip phones, outdated hairstyles, and photos with old computers in them should be replaced.
Make sure you are collecting the harvest from your garden. The purpose of your website is to help grow your organization. That means something different in each case. For a business, it may mean leads or sales. For a nonprofit, it may mean email subscribers or donations.
In any case, your website is like an extra employee who never sleeps. Make sure you are giving that extra employee all the work you can! We love consulting on how to automate tasks and automate online marketing. First we measure what is working, and what are the sources of your traffic. Then we help you generate more traffic and turn your website visitors into growth.
For more on this topic, view our three-minute video below.