Keeping your website active and up to date
Why do people stop returning to a website?
- There’s nothing new to see
- The content is out of date
- The page layouts have become busy and messy
- The design has gone out of fashion.
Four ways to ensure your website gets better over time, not worse
1. Website reviews
After a while, you may start to feel that your pristine, carefully written and lovingly structured website just isn’t as good as it was. You may be able to identify reasons for this straight away, but sometimes, it’s harder to pinpoint. It looks…. dull? Messy?
Perhaps it’s just not doing what it should be in terms of changing attitudes, increasing sales, or whatever ambitions you had when you commissioned it.
When did you last carry out a review?
We recommend organisation’s commission an annual website review by an experienced website evaluator to ensure their online presence/service improves rather than deteriorates over time.
The benefits of a review
The role of the website evaluator is to find out whether the site continues to meet the aims and goals it was designed to achieve and whether you are continuing to get value for money for your investment. After interviewing users and carrying out tests, the website evaluator will produce a report recommending the next steps to bring the site up to scratch and highlighting areas where the site has successfully grown and developed over time.
A review is a good opportunity to look at the resources available for ongoing management of the site and to consider options for increasing these resources if necessary. Perhaps the site has become stale and out of date due to a lack of time or staff to manage it?
We recommend a website review includes the following:
- Getting user feedback via surveys, interviews and/or workshops
- Reviewing traffic logs to find out the content that’s popular with visitors, tumbleweed areas and explore a range of telling visitor behaviour
- Testing the site’s findability on search engines and other relevant websites
- Providing a set of recommendations for improvements.
2. Pruning is as important as adding
Adding new content to your website is important, of course. Without it there is little reason for a visitor to come back. But it is equally important to make sure the site doesn’t become too busy, the white space and consistency of the design don’t deteriorate as more and more buttons, graphics, files and text are added.
If you don’t have the time or capacity to carry out a full website review, it could be time to do some pruning. Jellymould carries out regular pruning exercises on a number of the websites we help to manage including:
- editing content
- consolidating pages and removing duplication
- replacing hastily added text links with eye-catching buttons and graphics
- and suggesting ways to make content more usable in the light of new requirements and a fast-changing environment.
3. Plan for the future
Ever used the expression, “We need to get this on our website”? In a busy work environment, it’s often a last-minute thought to add a major new innovation or product to the organisation’s website.
Rushing inevitably leads to us focusing on what we need to say, rather than what users want to achieve or find. Our perspective is skewed to our own needs and the result is invariably somewhat less than user-friendly.
Without time to plan a major reshape to accommodate, present and highlight the new content it is often:
- forced into a home page call-out and a news item - soon to be replaced by something else
- squeezed into a section that doesn’t quite feel right
- presented in a bland and sometimes ugly way
- hastily described without consideration for findability and it
- eventually drifts out of reach of the user who searches for it.
In order to get maximum benefit from your online presence, your website needs to feature early on in your dissemination strategy, if you are influencing practice, opinion or providing information, and your marketing strategy if you are selling a service or product.
Give us a little warning and we can help you incorporate major new content by:
- writing sign-posting text and designing new graphics
- carefully adapting the website structure and section labels
- seeking input and feedback from users.
4. Get someone to help you
When you develop a new website, make sure you have a plan for maintaining it. It’s admirable to create a vast information resource, but if you don’t have the capacity to keep this up to date, it can become misleading and potentially detrimental to your reputation.
How we can help
Jellymould has been offering an ongoing content management service to a number of charities and businesses for several years.
Usually set up with a monthly allocation of hours, paid for by standing order, this service makes it possible for you to manage a large website over time, without needing to expand your staff capacity.
Ongoing content management includes:
- writing content
- editing existing content
- continually reviewing content
- sourcing photos and illustrations
- managing mailing lists and email newsletters
- adding new graphics and buttons
- proactively suggesting updates to content
- checking on time-limited content, such as coming events, and swiftly updating them.
We can also include ongoing print media support within a monthly contract.