Are you working on your web site or is it working on you?

Do you set aside time to know when you’re going to be working on it? 95% of clients I talk to don’t have a maintenance schedule. They don’t know when publications, brochures or annual reports will be available to them, until the last minute.

So they tend to be very reactive in terms of working on their web site – they’re either putting up material after it’s appeared in print (so the manager is breathing down their neck) or something is broken. That, in my humble opinion, is not the best way to use your web site to create a real business advantage.

I know what that’s like. The web site can get on top of you to a point where it’s overwhelming. This is particularly the case if you’re in a job where the web site isn’t your main priority.

For example, if you find out at the end of the process that a brochure is ready, that creates time pressure on you to make sure your online presence and material matches your print material.

That’s easy to solve. Most business – still – think that a brochure is ‘ready’ for upload only when it’s printed.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Once a brochure’s copy is signed off, it needs to go through several phases before it lands on your customer’s desk. It needs to be designed. It possibly has another layer of approval on the design. Then it needs to be printed. It will need to be folded/collated/stapled. This all takes time. What you can do, as the person responsible for the web site, is to use that time to your advantage. Once the copy is signed off, you can grab hold of it and start incorporating it into your web site NOW. Then you can launch your redeveloped web page (or site) at the same time as the brochure is delivered from the printers.

It sounds logical, but you’d be staggered to know how little this actually happens. But if you can make it happen, you’ll impress your management because they’re not expecting it. They think of the brochure-to-web process as being once the brochure hits THEIR desk.

So here are three key steps to staying on top of your web site:
1. Set a maintenance schedule. Make sure you know when you will be updating your web site and how often you’ll revisit it. And identify all the avenues of content available to you!
2. Once you’ve got a maintenance schedule, tell everyone about it! One thing I’ve found works well is if you have a process, you can educate and train people – including management – about when you want information. If you don’t have one, people tend to throw you things at the end of the day needing it to be up by tomorrow morning. If you have a schedule, you can plan these changes.
3. Once you’ve got a maintenance schedule, stick to it! Be disciplined about it. And use that time to surf around other sites and see what else it out there.

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