I regularly have customers tell me that their website is either not doing what they want it to or it’s not bringing in enough new business leads. It’s a very difficult topic to discuss with them because it almost always relates to the lack of them working on the site in some form and in a constant manner.

Our job is to help customers look after the site they have; update it, make it relevant and current. However, very few customers do this to great effect.

“Dean, I know you told me sometime back now that we need to update the site and put “link-thingies” into other sites etc, but I just don’t understand it and we need to work this out because the website is not working very well… “

I have some bad news… you need to understand it! You need to know what a website needs for it to work well for your audience or it will never work well!

“I know you say this but I am just not technical or very good with computers!”

What does writing and words have to do with technical ability? Nothing! A comment like this sits behind laziness or just not wanting to know. And if that’s the case, this person should not be looking after the website because no matter how much help they get, the site will not grow or meet the customer’s needs. You cannot expect a web developer or a communications company to understand your business like you do. Don’t get me wrong – we are more than happy to gather content, write and publish it for you, but it requires your input and knowledge for the stories, articles or images to mean anything or have an impact on your audience.

Let’s get some basic things straight about web:

Websites are digital publications, not IT. We don’t recommend involving your IT people in your website planning or content. You might however ask them to host it or set up mail etc. Why? Because IT people are technically centric and (generally speaking) they do not understand communications or the company and its services quite like someone who does communications for a living.

Do you ask IT to check over a brochure or product manual you’re sending out? Probably not 🙂

We don’t recommend you give the website and the control of content publishing to someone who does not immerse themselves in it. No disrespect to secretaries, but giving it to them or the receptionist to look after is a disaster. Not because of them, but because this just adds to the pile of work they have on top of doing their core duties. Web publishing is not something you should take lightly if you care about what your customers need or what they think of you and your business.

Good websites are not about looks, they are about “content” and “tasks”. Some of the worst looking websites work the best and are the most popular. However, it doesn’t mean it can’t look good. The idea is not to let this take precedence over functionality and content. People come to your website to read what you have say in your line of business or to carry out a simple task, not to be mesmerized by fancy logos or flash routines.

Lastly, there is nothing “new” that will make your site work better. And a new design help won’t help if you’re not managing your site properly. Websites work well when they are paid attention to, updated, refreshed and old content pulled out. Constant new content creates better keywords for your audience to be matched within search engines based on current market trends and product releases. The more rudimentary work you do on the website, the better it will work and be found. I hear and see many people trying to take shortcuts and listening to SEO tech geeks talking about new ways to be found. It’s also the fastest way to get lost. “Rudimentary” also means “boring”… yep sorry to burst your bubble! News stories, findings, new projects and imagery. All the stuff that seems old hat but is not. The reason some people think this won’t help, is because they dont do it!

We live in a world of instant gratification where people are wanting unrealistic results because they think modern technology will take care of things for them. This has never been more untrue. Technology might be cool and amazingly useful but its success is driven by those who use it and buy it. Take a look about, what product last more than 3-5 years today? Why? Because we are inherently lazy and will take the easy way out; we buy a “new one”. Manufacturers know it and thrive on it.

It’s time for Managers to step up to the plate and be accountable for the company’s online assets. The customers demand it and the company demands it. And this doesn’t mean building a new website and leaving it to others so you can tick the box!

It takes time and effort for a website to grow into a useful and helpful tool for your audience. The results are directly proportional to the amount of effort you put in. You cannot rush Google and you cannot make your customers come to you, you can only attract them to your site. This starts with good content and constant attention to your website.