A website is for life - not just for Christmas.
We often think of 'the launch' of a new website or application as a final destination or completion date, a point in time when the final build will be finished and ready to go. But while reaching the launch deadline is cause for celebration, it is important to remember that it is a significant milestone rather than the end game for your project.
Testing your assumptions
After the build and launch of a website or application, it may be assumed that the software is complete in terms of design, architecture and content and that it will continue to work indefinitely into the future.
But this is almost always not the case and post launch your website or application should be seen as a living, growing entity that needs to be re-evaluated and updated on an ongoing basis. The main areas for review and maintenance are:
- how your visitors are using and interacting with your website or application
- monitoring analytics and key performance indicators
- sales and sign up performance
- software updates and upgrades
If you don't have a plan for monitoring and analyzing interactions from visitors to your website or application now is the time to put one in place.
If functionality, design or content is not performing as originally intended, a review of each specific area should be carried out and changes should be applied to improve performance.
It's like buying a car, it needs to be regularly serviced, and if a warning light is shown it should be investigated and fixed.
If you think of your website or application as your shop window, you will want it to appear clean, fresh and full of good stuff to draw your customers in.
Content is king, it is what will draw your users to you and allow for those all important first engagements. It is what will capture your audience in either a positive or negative way.
Great, relevant content, that is updated regularly will also build your profile and improve visibility in organic search engine results.
Keeping software up to date
Your website or application will be built using a number of technologies. These technologies will improve and evolve over time.
The technologies that your website or application is built on will issue upgraded or updated versions regularly.
Keeping the technologies up to date will:
- ensure the software is secure
- ensure maintainability in the long term
- reduce technical debt , time and costs for any newer development work
- prevent your software from becoming obsolete
Not keeping up to date may:
- increase costs for management and maintenance
- introduce issues into the expected operation of the website or application
- may make an upgrade path impossible or cost ineffective to complete
- impact revenue and customer engagement
In most projects the launch is seen as a completion of the project and it's left there until the next requirement appears. Where in the majority of cases it should be viewed as a milestone, once live with relevant data from it's users interacting with it, it should be managed and updated.