So, You Want a Website? Part 6/6
This is the final post of a six-part series that is covering each of the key elements that go into building an engaging and effective website. You can read Part 5: Hosting, Domains & SSL here.
The first M is for Maintenance.
Much like a person, a website requires healthy upkeep. When a person doesn’t regularly drink water, eat fresh fruit and vegetables, and stay active, their organs won’t work as efficiently, and muscles will become weak; they’ll get fatigued easily and are more prone to getting sick.
Similarly, not only could parts of your website cease to function if you don’t routinely update them, but the easiest way your website could get hacked is through out-of-date plugins, themes, and WordPress core. (The second easiest way is through weak passwords.)
At Design It Please, we provide weekly updates, but if you’re handling it yourself, make sure you do it monthly, at the very least.
In addition to routine maintenance, you will want to budget for on-going maintenance. On-going maintenance can include things that break, new features that you want to add, or things you want to test. Even the most well-built website will eventually have something that breaks. Sometimes, a plugin stops being developed, so you have to replace it with a new one. Sometimes, an update to a plugin or theme will cause problems. It isn’t anything to panic about, but it is something you should plan for.
I recommend setting aside, at least, $100/mo for maintenance. Most likely, you aren’t going to use all of that every month. Instead, it will roll over and accumulate until you do.
The second M is for Marketing.
How will people find you?
The old adage of “if you build it, they will come” does not apply to your website.
New metaphor alert: A website is like a garden; it must be cultivated to produce. There’s a lot to be said about marketing, and many, many books and blog posts, and seminars, and podcasts, and conferences, and university degrees have been created to talk about it.
Let’s start with a couple of the basics: Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing.
Inbound marketing includes activities like blogging that, through strategic keywords, bring people to your website. I highly recommend taking the free Inbound Marketing class from Hubspot. It gives a great overview and practical applications.
Outbound marketing is your efforts to go out and find your users. Paid ads (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc.) are the best example of outbound marketing.
Neither marketing effort is free.
Whether you choose inbound or outbound marketing or both, it will need to be planned for and executed by either you (remember, your time costs money, too), someone on your team, or an outside professional. Make sure you have a marketing budget for your business even if it’s tiny!
Through time, a steady effort, and valuable content that’s targeted to your audience, your website will be found.