[This post is part of the ongoing Better Websites Series.]
For some reason, the lyrics from Rick Ashley’s 80s hit Never Gonna Give You Up comes to mind when I think about websites…
Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Strange association perhaps, but all too often we do exactly that. We give up on our website.
Websites can take a lot of work, thought, and time. It isn’t uncommon to feel like you are dragging it across the finish line on launch day. But, for a website, launch day is really only the beginning.
The thing that we can’t do with our website is give up on it. You should never see your site as complete. Sure, it was good enough to launch, but really, the work is never done.
I like to say that websites are an iterative process. We build them to the best of our ability with the time and resources available and then slowly add to them as time goes on. This could be done through new features, or it could be done with new content. The key is to keep moving forward.
Here are few great ways to keep your site moving forward and your traffic moving upward.
Think Content Management
Content management does just what it says – it allows you to manage the content on your website. Many sites are already using these systems, and they definitely make it easy to update your website. Using a content management system should be as easy as logging in with a username and password and then making changes by typing in a few form fields. I always like to say that updating your website should be as easy as sending an email.
There are many systems that can allow you to do this. At Todaymade, we employ our custom TodayCMS engine to get the job done. WordPress is also another excellent option. They key is to not only build your site with these systems, but to use them regularly.
Build In Phases
A great way to approach any site is to build it in phases. Once you have developed a master plan, your budget or timeline may not allow for everything that you desire or need. You might be better off building a portion of it now, and budgeting the rest for another time down the road. The key here is to work closely with your developer to ensure that things can be added and changed to fit your final plan. You don’t want to paint yourself into a corner!
Consider A Blog
A blog can be a great way to continually add new content to your site, and encourage visitors to come back again and again. In fact, websites with a blog get an average of 55% more traffic than sites without one. Not only will you see more traffic, but you will also have a great way to continually provide helpful content for your visitors.
It is true that it takes a certain mentality to make a blog work, but the biggest thing is just understanding that websites need to continually be infused with new ideas and thoughts to keep the momentum going. Once you have committed to this, blogging can be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Use It Strategically
For plenty of us, making our website a key part of your businesses strategic plan isn’t second nature. In fact, it can sometimes be the last thing we think of. This, of course, is where a good developer can come it. Using your online presence to collect leads, and keep in contact with them is an important task for most businesses. If we start seeing our site as an ongoing process, it can become a lot easier to see the possibilities as they arise.
Watch Your Analytics
Many sites come with a visitor statistics tracking package. We like Google Analytics for this. Too often, though, we only use these tools for counting visits and not as a set of clues for future possibilities. Look through your analytics. Which pages are visitors frequenting, and which pages aren’t they finding? User behavior can provide you with some great clues as to what your visitors want from your site. Once you start digging around you will almost certainly find something that can be improved.
Painting A Canvas
One of the things that I like to say about websites, is that they are just a canvas to paint on. When you launch a site, you are launching a place to collect and share ideas and information. Just because the canvas is done, that doesn’t mean it won’t need a little bit of paint. Keep at it. Keep updating, and keep things fresh. It will keep your visitors coming back for more, and more.