Determining Your Web Site’s Life Expectancy

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When is a Web site past its ‘Best Before’ date?

How do you know it’s time to stop wearing a piece of clothing, especially one you love? Sure it’s a little snug or a little faded. Maybe it’s not cutting edge but it’s fine…right? Sadly, we often require a glimpse of our reflection to feel that sudden jolt of realization: we’ve pushed it too far.

Similarly, many companies wait until their site has outgrown its navigation or structure or (worse) they begin to receive complaints before being moved to do something. How much better to proactively address your site before some unfortunate seam-splitting occurs in public!

Changes for Technical Reasons

It’s common for people to think of a Web page like a glorified Word document, and therefore it can be difficult to understand what the behind-the-scenes coding does and why it is imperative that the code stays up-to-date. When it comes to Web sites, the saying ‘there’s more than meets the eye’ couldn’t be more true.

Even though a site may be Web standards compliant and function consistently in all major browsers at the time of original site launch, no one can completely anticipate how future Web browsers and new Web standards will function. Often, older code becomes incompatible with current Web browsers or security measures must be improved. So certain portions of your site’s functionality may need to be re-created or replaced in order for your audience to be able to properly use your site.

If the needed technical updates are significant — and especially if implementing these will improve your users’ experience or make your maintenance more efficient or cost-effective — it may be that developing an entirely new site would yield the best return on your investment. If the functionality is outdated, it is likely that the site’s objective and aesthetics are too. The time comes to reassess how well your site is meeting today’s business challenges.

A Reason for Existing, a Reason for Reinventing

While we don’t agree with ‘change for the sake of change’, we do feel strongly about the critical value of a purpose-driven redevelopment of your Web presence at pivotal moments. Each site had a clear purpose in being created. But when that purpose changes — and it will — the site must also change if it is to be of any use to you. Why?

Over time the essence of your organization progresses. To stay competitive, you’ve responded to new opportunities for growth and, as a result, your overall offerings, target market, price-points and strategies evolve. Even for sites that were solidly designed and constructed and faithfully updated, this does not automatically mean that the site as a whole is still as effective as it could be.

Take Us, for Example

Last month we announced the launch of the latest version of our Web site. What prompted us to make this a priority now?

While our previous sites had served us well, we thought we could do better at representing the unique strengths we can offer our local market at this point in time. We needed to emphasize the qualities that make E Media Architects stand out, those which experience had now shown to actually be prompting clients to choose us — tasteful design; our hand-crafted approach to Web creation; and (perhaps most importantly) the high-level of quality and personal attention a customer gains from dealing with just two people instead of a giant conglomerate. We also wanted to increase awareness of the services we now offer. To support these initiatives, we carved out the resources to strategize and produce what you see today. We’d love to hear your thoughts about how well we’re meeting these objectives.

Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom

It’s been said that a good Web strategy corresponds to an overall business strategy. Hence, a site’s re-creation must be driven by a legitimate business objective, not an emotional reaction such as “I’m tired of my site and I’d like a new one.” A site overhaul should utilize past experience to create something greater — the best and most accurate reflection of your company’s unique strengths and current focus.

So what does that mean for you? In short, it would be wasteful to attempt to refresh a site’s aesthetics without tackling the root issues. Under normal circumstances, even masterful cosmetic makeovers are of limited value unless coupled with a repositioning of objective and then the development of a strategy to meet that objective.

Evaluate Your Present Needs

In evaluating your requirements and establishing a direction for the future, consider:

  1. your company’s current business objectives in response to market trends;
  2. how well your Web site is meeting current business objectives;
  3. how your Web site users’ needs and expectations have changed;
  4. how any Web content you’ve added or updated is being accessed and presented;
  5. your employees’ ability to use the site to help customers; and
  6. how your online presence enhances or devalues overall brand perception.

After some consideration, it may be that the value of repositioning your Web site’s purpose or execution in the near future is clearly evident. If this is the case, be in touch with us to make it happen. We will formulate a strategy to guide the aesthetic and functional development of your new Web site.

Weigh the Costs

It’s true. Repairs, redesigns and overhauls cost money. Is it worth it?

A site’s true worth is determined by how well it prompts your audience to take the needed action. If users find your site frustrating, dated or even broken in places, a tool you had hoped to use to create a positive impression becomes less useful – in fact, it can damage your real-world credibility. The revenue lost through such negative experiences would far exceed the cost of updating. Conversely, consider how much public interest could be generated if the needed adjustments were made.

If you have recently upgraded, overhauled or redesigned your Web site, what was your objective and what results are you enjoying? Do you have any sage advice to pass on to others? We encourage you to make a comment.

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