Website Maintenance: What does it take to manage your website?
Every action has a beginning phase where you launch your activity, a middle period in which you must sustain and develop it and a conclusion. Many people set up a website enthusiastically but then they find that they don't have the skills or knowledge to maintain and develop it. So, what are the challenges in this middle phase of a website's life and how can you meet them?
Updating the site: The beauty of a website is that it is not static like a brochure or printed document. You can change it to reflect new products or new developments in your enterprise. You can launch new campaigns, and at any time you can add more content.
The problem for some companies and individuals is that after they have paid a good amount of money to have their site built, they do not have any personnel who can make changes to the website, such as adding new text or photos etc. One solution to this is to make sure you have a good maintenance plan included in the contract or agreement you make your with your web designer, so that minor changes can be made by your original designer
Another solution, and one that gives you more flexibility, is to train someone in your organization to be able to work with an html editor (like Frontpage, Dreamweaver, or other similar programs). While not everyone has the skills to design a site from scratch, someone who is able to use the normal word processing programs can learn how to modify text and upload files to the server.
Promoting the site: If you just sit on your hands you cannot expect your website to live up to its promise. Many web designers do not have a clue about things like search engine optimization or submission, and the new website owner is left with a nice looking site, but no traffic. Furthermore there are other website related promotional tasks such as reciprocal linking, newsletter editing and mailing list maintenance which do not fall into the duties normally performed by the site's original designer.
Once again check with your web designer or developer and see if they can perform any of these tasks economically or give you some help. If not, then some of these activities may have to be outsourced. Search engine optimization and submission, and even reciprocal linking, the activity of finding link partners, can be contracted from among the hundreds of companies offering such services.
You or a designated member of your staff can learn some of these tasks by reading online tutorials, e-books and newsletters (like this one!). Though this takes time, again it gives you flexibility and an ability to work at your own pace and within your budget.
Finally if you can't afford the outside services needed to maintain and develop the site, and if you are not sure how to train yourself or your staff, a third solution exists in the form of Ken Evoy's Site Build It (http://buildit.sitesell.com/webpromote2.html). In which powerful hosting, design, maintenance and promotional tools are provided along with step-by-step guidance enabling complete beginners to build, develop and manage effective websites.
Even before you start your website you should be thinking one step ahead, so that you can develop the site intelligently and vigorously, and ultimately be successful in your web project.
Donald Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. Hehas been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com), a firm providing low cost search engine optimization, submission and web promotion services.