This is one of a series of 12 posts that will show you how to take full advantage of the business-building power of the Internet and not get left behind as your prospects shift from using the Yellow Pages to the Internet to find a martial art school. Click here to view the first post and to access links to the others.
Reason #8 – Not considering the long-term management and maintenance of a site in the initial decisions prior to starting development
Here is the most common complaint I hear from business owners about their website (besides the complaint that their website rarely, if ever, generates any new business).
Every time they want to make a change or addition to their site, they need to go back to their web developer to have the work done. This creates three problems:
- Delays – the work almost never gets done in a timely manner
- Cost – each little change gets billed at the developer’s hourly rate
- Hassle – just explaining the change usually takes more time than what it takes the developer to complete it
The most common result is that the website ends up almost never getting changed. It is just too untimely, too expensive, and too inconvenient to make it worth the effort. This creates issues on multiple fronts:
- The site begins to look old and out of date to visitors
- The search engines begin to ignore the site because it looks abandoned (this is happening more and more — search engines are giving great value to fresh content in their algorithms)
- The business misses opportunities to creatively use their website as an integral part of their marketing effort
The good news is that it is now possible to develop a website using a Content Management System. Such systems make it possible for a business owner or staff person to make changes and additions to their site without the need for any technical expertise.
This eliminates the ongoing hassle/cost of working with a web developer, but more importantly, it enables the tight integration of offline and online marketing initiatives. For example, a good CMS will allow the business owner to easily create an unlimited number of “landing pages” that can be tied to print advertising campaigns.
Such changes only require a few minutes (or, often, just several seconds) so it’s possible to fully manage your site without having to use a web developer ever again.
But, not all of these systems are created equal. Some are so complicated they can take hours or days to learn. Others allow you to make simple changes but doing more complicate tasks like adding images, creating links, or adding videos (the future of the Internet) still must be done by a developer – all which can cost lots of money.
But, whatever system you select, using a Content Management System for your website is almost ALWAYS a better decision than developing a traditional website using HTML.
In addition, there are now systems that allow content authors to submit video, audio, images and text to their online properties from a single page on their website without even having to know anything about Internet marketing.
If you are a national organization, you have a different problem. For you, the issue is control. You have a brand to protect and letting your local managers/owners compromise that brand with hugely variable websites makes no sense.
Instead, you want to be able to manage your Internet presence from a central location. From my experience, that’s the primary reason why national organizations opt to have pages for each location on a central site, rather than having a separate website for each location (the highly preferred approach to maximize local Internet search traffic). They don’t want to lose control of their brand and they can’t imagine dealing with the cost and hassle of having tens or hundreds of websites to manage.
But, that’s another technology development that has happened very recently. It is now possible to manage hundreds to thousands of individual websites with less work and expense than managing one large, traditionally-constructed website.
The technologies that makes this possible are called Multi-Site Management and Content Syndication. These technologies enable software upgrades and “pushing” content to all or a subgroup of sites from a central dashboard.
For national organizations, the combination of a Content Management System, Multi-Site Management and Content Syndication creates the ideal environment to maximize the business-building power of the Internet. With these three technologies, national firms get all the benefits of having a local website for each individual location without giving up any control over their Internet presence and with none of the management costs and hassles.
Another factor to consider relative to the long-term maintenance of your website is how to address the technical issues, such as:
- Selecting a reliable website hosting provider
- Interacting with the host when problems arise (and, trust me, there are always problems)
- Registering and renewing domain names
- Regularly updating the server software used on the site
- Monitoring the site for technical problems
Here you need a technical team to help out – so it is important to have access to a good one. Bottom line, you must consider the long-term management and maintenance of a site prior to starting development.