Static content on a website seldom requires updating but stale date-sensitive information can quickly make your site look poorly maintained.
How Do Updates Happen?
Rapidly-changing or date-sensitive material needs to be regularly updated.
There are methods of maintaining dynamic content separately from your site:
- Use social media.
- Post to a blog.
- Set up a maintenance contract (or have maintenance done on an as-needed basis).
You can also maintain the site yourself by
- learning to do minor updates to your website; or
- building the entire site using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress.
Choosing the Right Option
There are advantages and disadvantages to each depending upon
- your budget;
- the likelihood that the site requirements will change; and
- your technical aptitude (or that of your staff or volunteers).
Social media can provide you with an excellent place to post date-sensitive information like special events, sales, job postings and more.
The interface is designed for non-technical postings and most such sites post material by date so that older information won't hurt your credibility the way it can on a website.
Know the Rules
Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be a great place for discussion, but you need to be aware of some unspoken rules to be effective.
Engage in the Community
Social media is about community. People want to belong; to talk to others they trust.
You need to engage in social media communities or you'll appear to be an outsider.
For example, Facebook may refuse access to anyone without a Facebook account (one reason you need a website to provide universal access).
Choose the Right Community
Different social media communities service different needs.
- Facebook is a relatively-closed social network. Some people tend to be logged in regularly; others avoid Facebook altogether.
- Google+ allows you to create unique circles of contacts that control who you share information with.
- Twitter updates can be frequent and effective; especially if your visitors follow your Tweets.
- Instagram or Pinterest is helpful if your product or service lends itself to photographs. Flickr is focussed on photographers sharing their own collections and peer reviews.
- LinkedIn is an online resume and networking service.
- Popularity changes. Friendster and MySpace were both overtaken by Facebook.
Essentially, you want to reach into the communities that work best for you and speak to them “in their language.”
Its not just about self-promotion. Many customers are using social media to access customer service. Unlike a phone call, the conversation can be very public. Be sure to treat such issues quickly and with tact. Everyone's watching how you handle the problem.
Quality Not Quantity
To reach more people, concentrate on the quality and uniqueness of your offerings.
You have a lot of competition for your viewers. You need to be original and creative to grab attention.
Treats, No Tricks
Click-baiting may work for newspaper headlines, but if you annoy too many people, you may find the power of social media working against you or become the victim of changing social media algorithms.
Can you, your staff or volunteers dedicate the time and energy it takes to maintain the ongoing interaction with the social media communities in which you are planning to use?
Blogs are less formal than a website yet they don't have the restrictions or expectations that social media may present.
Because blogs are generally a series of posts sorted by date, they allow you to post time-sensitive information without worrying about appearing stale. Expectations are different than they are for a website.
- Blogs are ideal for posting sales events, book launches, reading, arts events and other time-sensitive information.
- Blogs provide a great opportunity to educate your clients and potential customers.
- You can create a following if you regularly post enticing material.
- Blog posts can attract new visitors to your site and may be referred to in other blogs or social media.
However, like social media, you need to regularly update your blog or it will appear abandoned.
Can Be Self-managed
If you or your staff have the skills to do a good job of writing blog posts, then a blog can be self-managed.
Simple edits to a standard site can be accomplished without too much knowledge using copy and paste techniques.
No Significant Layout Changes
While some knowledge is required, you don't have to be able to build or significantly change the layout to make minor updates.
- You can copy similar sections of the site and change the text and links using simple edits with a text editor.
- HTML is essentially a markup language, NOT a programming language. Think of adding italics or bold to existing text.
- Duplicating similar content is easier than creating new content.
- The Cut ’N Paste HTML Primer shows you how.
While relatively-simple, HTML edits require more technical knowledge than blogs or social media.
Changes are made in text editors and uploaded to your hosting service using an FTP program.
Help is Available
I can help you with setting up the software and learning simple HTML edits required for your site.
Major changes or updates would still be done by me and you can move to a maintenance contract if you find it too much.
Sites built using content management systems (CMSs) work best where the format and layout is simple and unlikely to change.
The main advantage to CMSs is that they allow you or your staff to update your site without any technical knowledge.
Unfortunately, most people don't understand very much about website design and this can create issues and can add hidden costs to the site design and maintenance process.
Security is an important aspect of maintaining a site.
Unfortunately, CMSs like WordPress have difficulty with security, partly because they are so popular but also because their users understand so little about their function.
There are some significant technical considerations that most users are ill equipped to assess or deal with.
Learn more about CMSs and the issues that may affect your decision to choose to do your own maintenance using a CMS