Today Mashable published a post about a relic that is considered the world’s first website. Now at first blush, it’s no beauty, but for it’s time (this version is 1992), it was a staggering, awe-inspiring piece of work. For the first time, people from around the world could view something from the comfort of their home (if they were so fortunate to have a computer and dial-up modem) or office, click around, even learn. It was remarkable. No, not beautiful, but utterly useful and functional in its simplicity. Times have since moved on and websites have moved right along with them. Well, *some* websites have moved along. That’s the point of today’s post: while indeed websites might seem very static, and that investment you made way back when did garner you some business, today, it could be costing more than it’s bringing in.
Ignoring the Problem Doesn’t Make it Go Away
We see it time and again: Once a business has a site up and running (even if it’s one they cobbled together themselves), they leave it alone, revisiting it only when something breaks or when there’s a change. This is not always the case, though, and there are tons of sites on the web that still feature the proverbial “Under Construction” graphic from many moons ago. Someone along the line had the good sense to secure a good URL and maybe even build the site out, but then left the project to decay and collect dust. Is this the best representation of your business? Others, still recovering from website builds that far exceeded budgets of the time, remain unloved, riddled with old code, poor SEO, ill-advised design choices, and even misinformation because of lack of updates. Why? Take your pick:
- The business owner is reluctant to spend more money on a site they spent a bundle on in years past
- The person responsible for site maintenance is no longer with the company
- The vendor that handled updates is no longer in business or is inaccessible
- No one understands the software needed to upkeep the site
- Calls to get help aren’t returned
- No one knows the questions to ask to get the site remodeled/up and running
- No one knows the price of a new/remodeled site, so it sits stagnant
While any of these might be a good reason initially, over the long haul, it’s a major failure to your business. Remember: your site allows your business to be promoted 24-7-356, but sometimes you have only once chance to make a good impression. Cliche’? Yeah, but oh so true. Think of your website as a vehicle you come rely on day in, day out. When you don’t maintain it, things begin to go wrong and it doesn’t perform like it should, and it begins costing you a lot of money. With your website, that means lost customers and maybe even lost credibility.
Websites Need Love, Too
So on this day of visiting the Web’s “ancient past”, take an objective look at your site and formulate a simple plan to bring it into this century. All you need to do is explore the sites of some key competitors and compare to your own; is yours better/worse/about the same? What could be better? If you were a guest, what would make it better for you? Next, get some bids and direct some of your marketing budget to a web re-do. Some great things are in your favor, that weren’t in years past:
- Websites of today can be built and maintained from any computer in the world and require no special software
- Content updates can be made instantly, by you or your vendor of choice
- Basic sites are more affordable than ever before and you can have more bells and whistles, too
- Reputable companies provide estimates ahead of time, and it’s good to get a few estimates to be sure you’re getting the best deal, but don’t base your decision solely on price. Experts will not only be able to build the site, they’ll be able to give you strategies and ideas for getting the most marketing punch from it.
- Expert companies will give you support, training, not “buffalo” you into features/expenses you don’t need
- Vendors who place a high value on customer services are accessible and will never take weeks or months to get back to you
- Ask about maintenance packages and hosting options, so that you know up front what savings await you
You don’t have to know all the answers on how your site runs or works, but partnering with a good company (even ours 🙂 will ensure you have a site that will be up to today’s standards. Partnering with solid vendors rather than companies that bundle your site in with other stuff assures you of people committed to keeping your site running like it should. After all, your business is not a “one size fits all”, so why should your website be stuck like that?