There are some common misconceptions about owning a website that can be overcome when you look at the experience and responsibility of website ownership as you might look at owning a car.
When you buy a new car, you drive away from the showroom (hopefully) happy with your new wheels envisioning how this ride will take you to all the places you want to go. You start to get a feel for the new car, adjusting everything to your liking and then you start cruising around town. With a new website it may take a bit to get comfortable behind the wheel and to understand the instrument cluster - to get a feel for what the website is capable of and how to drive it. But once you find that sweet spot and recline your seat and take firm grasp of the wheel, owning your new website can be a pleasure.
You would not expect to drive your car for very long without giving it gas (or charging the batteries). Unfortunately there are many website owners who expect their sites to do just that - to go on growing and providing value without ever stopping to fill the tank.
When you have invested in a new website it is wise to plan on spending time and/or money to provide fuel for your site. Fuel is used to deliver visitors to your website both immediately and long-term. Websites have flex-fuel engines meaning there are all sorts of ways that you can tank up.
Contextual search advertising (Google AdWords for example) designed to bring visitors to your website at the exact moment they are searching for services and products your business provides. This fuel lasts as long as you are willing to pay to fill the tank.
Building a profile of inbound links to your website is another form of fueling up. These links help your site gain relevance in the eyes of search engines and traffic from the sites that place the links.
Creating, maintaining and growing a social media presence is like carpooling. If you're engaging, creative, informative or funny folks will want to ride around with you and will keep an eye out for you as you pass by them, sometimes hitching a ride and developing a relationship with you.
Writing content on a reguar basis is like tricking out your ride with new features. Folks will want to keep coming back for rides with you when they know that they can expect to find fresh, relevant, entertaining, informative, controversial or enjoyable content. A commitment to regular content creation is the key to your websites ignition. Without it the engine of audience and business growth will stall out.
Give your website the fuel it desires and it can take you far.
You wouldn't hop on your dirt bike to take the neighborhood kids to school and you wouldn't drive the school bus on mountain trails. It stands to reason that before you get behind the wheel you decide on the job you're looking to accomplish and you choose your vehicle accordingly. Websites are no different. When you are planning your new website it is important to take stock of what your business goals are and to build your website to meet (or exceed!) those goals. If you don't have a clear understanding of your goals for a website then don't get behind the wheel! You wouldn't drive without having first gained an understanding of the rules of the road and the basics of operating a vehicle. The same applies here.
To keep your vehicles in tip-top shape you have to regularly maintain the systems that keep you truckin' along - oil changes, tire rotation, brakes, fluid checks - these are all things we expect and accept as part of being responsibe car owners. Websites sometimes require maintenance too. In some cases, the mechanics (programmers) will hand you the parts and require that you install them (think WordPress updates). In other cases they are taken care of without your having to do a thing (think Edgeworks CMS updates).
Sometimes the landscape online shifts in dramatic ways as technology races along. Regularly maintaining your website sometimes involves after-market upgrades to take advatage of new avenues for business growth that the web provides. Keeping an eye on what is available and what is possible can be a key part of a maintenance plan to keep your website and your business on the road to online success.
Some drivers prefer to lease their vehicles while others prefer to purchase them. Websites and car ownership have this in common too. A driver who leases her car expects to trade it in after a few years and get the newest model. The driver who purchases a car may be looking for ten years of service from the vehicle before it gets replaced.
The average lifespan of a website is difficult to assess. Indeed, searching on the topic yields plenty of diversity of opinion, but the average lies somewhere between 3-6 years. That means that for most businesses websites are more closely aligned with five year leases than ten year ownerships. When considering the expense of a website it is helpful to take the sticker price and divide it by the expected lifespan to get a sense of the annual cost to your business.
Why do websites have such a short lifespan? For the most part this is due to the rapid evolution of internet technologies and the fast adoption of changing expectations of users. A website built five years ago shows its' age. There are plenty of successful websites that buck the trend, but it is useful to expect your website ownership experience to be a five year investment.
It is inevitable that accidents occur. In the world of website ownership this could be as simple as things not displaying exactly as you might expect them to across all devices and browsers viewing the website or as deeply disturbing as a hacked or defaced website. For the vast majority of website owners the road will be smooth, but it helps to understand that it is possible to have bumps in the road that impact your website. The best way of handling this is with proper insurance. In the case of website ownership this means having an insurance agent (web design firm) that you trust to help you through the rough patches and get you back onto the road quickly and safely.
If you're looking to get behind the wheel of an easy to maintain website get in touch with us. We have a full service station ready to meet your needs now and into the future. We'll make sure you are comfortable and safe and will help you develop a roadmap for your business website. We'll match your business goals and budget with a website crafted just for you and we'll be there riding shotgun the whole time.