Post-Launch, Part 1: The Dangers of Letting Your Website Stagnate

February 25, 2011

Posted in Governance, Marketing, Measurement, and Web Industry.

We all know the feelings of a major web project – the rush leading up to the launch, the last-minute jitters, the discovery of problems, and the relief of finally going “live.” Websites are long projects. But unlike many other marketing materials, launching a website isn’t the end.

What happens after launch is often the most important part of the project.

Dusty old website

Websites tend to live on much, much longer than print materials, television ads, or other marketing pieces. When reality changes – you announce a new program, change staff, release a new product – the website should reflect that. Furthermore, fresh and accurate content is rewarded with search engine ranking and inbound links.

The cost of an unmaintained website is increasingly expensive the longer it sits.

Waiting for innovation

Let’s say you launched your new site today. And next week, you have a great idea that might improve the site’s ability to convert visitors. When should you try this great new idea? For many, the answer is “when I redesign it again in three years.” I absolutely advise against this kind of hard schedule, advocating either for an as-needed or, even better, iterative redesign approach.

Did it work?

The biggest thing you should be asking after you launch a website is whether it did the trick or if your efforts were in vain. Or maybe it’s somewhere in between. What are you doing after you launch? Are you measuring? What are you doing with those measurements? Hopefully, you’re making changes based on what you learn – but is it formal or do you just keep an eye on things from time to time?

In part two (coming soon), we’ll look at specific post-launch routines and how to manage them.