Maintaining an effective website

Maintaining an effective website is hard work and requires continued effort. So don’t wait until your site is on its last legs before you redesign it – regular reviews and planned updates are the key to success.

The first steps

Organisations grow or contract, technology evolves and audiences come and go. The effect of the website you had designed to work well under one set of conditions is now diluted in the current environment. By recognising this and acknowledging the need for a redesign you have taken the first important step. However many people then falter and put it off in favour of a few nips and tucks here and there, enough to sell your product reasonably well without radically altering their websites fundamentals. Many fail to grasp the nettle until it’s too late by putting off the project, sometimes for years, until enough problems accumulate to justify a big investment of time and money. But instead of waiting until the whole thing needs to be overhauled you can approach the development of your website like any other project and break it down into manageable chunks.  Adopting a phased approach will allow you to reduce the investment both financially and in terms of effort over time.

Look beyond the aesthetic

Clients who are newcomers to the web design process will often only ask for an update to their website’s look and feel. The development of your website goes beyond the aesthetic design and should incorporate solid information architecture, thoughtfully managed editorial calendars, flexible content management systems, and adaptable or responsive layouts. We oppose a surface-only reskin when structural and strategic flaws remain uncorrected. .

Don’t get overwhelmed

However, not everything needs to be tackled all at once. Attempting to change everything at once can overwhelm finite resources, giving rise to a large unwieldy project. Equally worthwhile objectives end up competing for priority diluting the quality and effectiveness of the changes. Inevitably, the project will fail to meet its original objectives.

Take a phased approach

Don’t squander the chance to save your website and let your redesign become a single project affecting only one discipline, or a desperate attempt to address every risk at once. If you focus on one priority at a time you may even find some problems solve themselves. Work with your web designer to phase the project:

  • Ensure that your website is built using industry best practice in order that it is future proofed. We use HTML5 mark-up language.  This ensures that our websites will be compatible with all browsers and users of the World Wide Web now and in the future.
  • Make sure that the website is responsive so that it can be viewed on different types of device with different screen sizes.
  • Insist on a flexible CMS that will allow you to edit and add your own content.
  • Plan what features you want your website to incorporate and possibly phase their introduction.
  • Devolve responsibility for content production.
  • Look ahead to how content is produced and added to your website in the future.

Plan effectively & avert friction

So the next time you contemplate a far-reaching overhaul, avert friction ahead of time by planning effectively with your web designer. Instead of a monolithic redesign that ends when the deadline hits or the money runs out, plot each critical aspect of your site. Items such as backend, content and visual design can be viewed as distinct projects along a roadmap. The separation will help you focus on a single priority at a time. The roadmap will help you manage each priority in relation to the overall project.

In summary, maintaining an effective website should be viewed as an evolutionary process.  A website must change to meet the shifting demands of the markets, your clients, your organisation and technology. Ensure continued success with regular reviews and updates.

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