The conventional wisdom has been that a website should be updated or redesigned every three years or so. That timeline has continued to shrink over the years to a redesign every 2-3 years, to a redesign every 1.5-2 years depending on who you happen to listen to, and your industry. Given the effort and cost typically involved in a major site redesign, investing in that effort every two years is not feasible for most organizations. So the question then is how can you keep a site fresh, incorporating new features and technologies, without a significant redesign project?

One option is by evolving your web presence through continuous incremental improvements to extend the time between major redesigns, and ideally, to make the effort and cost of those major redesigns, well, less major. This approach does require an investment in resources, and potentially dollars, but it’s one way to maintain a reasonably consistent level of quality and effectiveness over time.

The typical website life cycle consists of the launch of a new site or redesign; followed by a slow decline as relatively few resources are devoted to maintaining it and re-aligning it with changing needs. Ultimately the site declines to the point that it is more of a liability than an effective marketing and engagement tool. At this point, sufficient “pain” is felt to initiate another re-architecture/redesign project. And so the cycle continues:

 website life cycle

Incremental Evolution

The approach I’m proposing seeks to avoid, or at least to stave off, the slow decline of a website. By making incremental changes to site functionality, architecture, navigation and visual design on an ongoing basis, we can keep the site more relevant and more aligned with the organization’s digital strategy.

Website Effectiveness Over Time

The key here is that that the evolution has to be in-line with the organization’s digital strategy…so your organization should first and foremost have a strategy to govern the operation and evolution of the website as well as other digital communication channels.

In order for this incremental evolution to be effective and valuable, it should be in response to broader changes in organizational strategy, your market or your site visitor expectations. The goal of this evolution is to continuously align your web presence with the changing business environment or the changing needs of your audience. Otherwise, over time, your web presence and your digital marketing needs will tend to diverge.

While the focus here has been on the “why” you shouldn’t just keep your website operations on autopilot between redesigns, join us for next month’s webinar for an example of “what” to do to keep that presence fresh, engaging and relevant.