Not surprisingly, I have a lot of opinions on this. I have a lot of opinions on many websites in general. So let me start with this – you should update your website often. But let me break it down a little further.
We are no longer in an era of “set it and forget it” websites. You can’t create a website, load it up online, and then check it again 10 years later. That just doesn’t work for a lot of reasons. Technology changes. Design changes. But more importantly, we, as people, change. And because we’re always changing, our websites need to change too.
For this post, I’m not talking about updating your plugins and stuff, although you should do that too. I’m talking about content. How often should you be updating that? A lot of that depends on your industry. What do you do? Who are your customers? And more importantly, is what you are offering to your customers changing?
I have some examples:
- If you’re a writer, and you are frequently producing new articles, books, columns, etc, then your website should be updated with that information. If I, as a reader or as a publisher looking for a writer, show up to your website and your most recently article listed is five years old? I’m going to think your site is defunct and assume you no longer are writing.
- If you’re a contractor and I come to your site and your portfolio shows home building trends that are out of date, I’m going to wonder if you offer the newer trends and are up to date with new materials being offered. I might skip calling you and go with the person whose website shows more up-to-date buildings/remodels in their portfolio.
- If you’re a hairdresser or salon owner and your website shows old styles and not new styles, then I might wonder if you aren’t continuing professional development and if you aren’t able to give me the kind of style I want.
- If you’re a web design company and your portfolio isn’t up-to-date, I might wonder if you are falling behind of the newest technologies and look for someone who appears to be more on the cutting edge.
- If your website uses outdated jargon or terminology (like you’re totally rad!) then it’ll be obvious that it hasn’t been updated in a long time. If you are neglecting your website, what else are you neglecting?
- If you’re a dance studio and your course schedule changes, your website should be reflecting those changes. If I want to sign up for your classes but you don’t have the schedule on the website, I’ll go to the next studio who does have that information.
I once said to a friend about her website, who was targeting government contractors, that her website didn’t look professional, therefore those coming to her website to find out about her company would assume that her company was unprofessional too. And she was shocked by that, it had never occurred to her. But think about this, have you ever walked into a waiting room or an office and noticed it was shabby or out-of-date and felt uncomfortable about that business? Of course you have. Don’t let your website become that shabby waiting room!
Simple tips for keeping your website up-to-date
- Every two months, just open up your website and click through to the pages and make sure that all the content is good and doesn’t need freshened up. Have you started offering a new service? If so, it needs to go on your site. Have you won any new awards? That should go on your site too. Are you now on social media when you weren’t before? ADD IT.
- Update your portfolio often. If you do new projects, add them to your portfolio. There is nothing that speaks more to your potential customers than looking at the work you’ve done for past customers.
- If you have a blog, don’t let it get defunct. A neglected blog makes your site look out-of-date. If I show up to your site and your most recent blog post is two years old, I’m going to wonder if you’re even still in business.
- Remove expired specials! There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than finding a great deal only to learn it’s no longer valid.
- Update those FAQs as you get more questions that people ask. An updated FAQ tells people you care about their questions.
Common reasons website owners give for not updating their website (and my rebuttal)
“I don’t have time to update my website, I’m too busy working for my customers.”
Who hasn’t said this one? I know I have. But the truth is that it is a disservice to yourself and your business to ignore your own business for the sake of your clients. You’d never tell client #2 that you can’t do their work because you’re so busy with client #1, right? You’d find a way to make it happen. Find a way to make yourself a priority too.
I always recommend that people make updating their website a part of their regular business duties. You wouldn’t ignore turning on your “open” sign because you’re too busy, right? You wouldn’t stop doing all kinds of your daily work duties because you’re too busy, so make this one part of your routine too. Pick a day and time and put it on your schedule. Monday at 10 AM is when I work on the website. If you set it on your schedule and plan for it, you’ll be less likely to forget.
“I don’t know how to do it and I don’t have time to learn.”
While our goal is always to give clients a website they can manage on their own, not everyone has time to learn how to do it nor the interest in doing it themselves. That’s why we offer ongoing support packages to help you keep your site up-to-date. You don’t have to do it all yourself – instead, you can invest in your business and let us do the work.
“My business doesn’t change, so I don’t need to update my website.”
Really? Your business never changes? I just don’t buy that. It’s 2018. Everything is changing all the time. If your business isn’t changing, you might want to ask yourself why?
Updating your website doesn’t have to take a lot of time and doesn’t have to be complicated. But updating it is a reflection of your business, so make it a priority at a minimum a few times a year to show your customers you care enough about your business to give them current and accurate information on your website. It’ll pay off for you if you do.
Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.