3.18.14

Your Website is a Plant

BY JEFF ROBERTSON

Plants tend to die in our office. Mark pushes his mini tree thing back in the corner because it looks better. There is no light back there, but it looks better. Shay refuses to water the plant next to her because "there are bugs in it.” I have yet to figure out why watering it will make the bug problem worse (nor have I seen any bugs), but I don't ask. For as good as we are at websites, we are bad at plants.

Mark-and-plant

Your website is a plant.

Your website requires continual maintenance and care or it will die, or at least it will become so stale your customers will assume your business did.

The basics: water, food, pruning*

Simple stuff here - keep your website up-to-date by adding new stuff and getting rid of the old. Your business's messaging, strategy and services are probably not exactly the same as they were six months ago - your website should reflect that.

Are your customers searching for you the same way they did when the site launched? Invest in some search engine optimization research to find out. Can you offer prospective clients something online to generate more leads? Does your copyright date, news or blog make it look like you haven't touched the site this decade? Have you tried any A/B testing with your calls to action?

Keep updating, testing and improving. Content has a tendency to go bad when you're not looking.

* Full disclosure: I have never intentionally pruned a plant, though I have invoked the term after hitting my wife's flowers with the lawnmower.

The not-so-basics: fertilizing, changing the soil

These are the less glamorous, less obvious requirements to owning a website - you do this maintenance for the long-term health of the site.

A few questions to ask:

  • When was the last time we did a complete audit of how our site is bringing us more business? (fertilizer)
  • Who is installing security updates for the CMS and server? (changing the potting soil so it doesn't become home to bugs)
  • How is the site backed up in case of disaster? (for the sake of this analogy I assume everyone keeps emergency plants in their garage)

Take care of your plant

Remember, unless another department explicitly takes ownership of one of these requirements, all the work falls to the marketing team. (Even in very large companies, sometimes the IT department requires the marketing department to hire vendors to take care of security updates and backups.)

If you are a in charge of a website, I recommend getting a plant for your desk. Every time you give it some attention, check your website, too.

Jeff Robertson
written by JEFF ROBERTSON

Jeff Robertson is an entrepreneur and an online development expert with experience stretching back to dial-up. He is a partner and VP of Technology & Operations at Carbon8. On the development side, he helps bridge the gap between the technical and marketing worlds, and oversees technical infrastructure. On the operations side, he helps optimize team processes, manages finances and buys emergency coffee if the supply runs low.

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