Download: Making A Website Central To Operations
Over the years, I have seen people build websites, only to forget about them almost as soon as they go live. This observation has made me realise that, there is something fundamentally flawed with the way people perceive their websites, in relation to their businesses or organisations.
The flaw arises from people seeing the website as a separate entity, far removed from the other operations of the business or organisation, when in fact they should be considered central to operations.
Soon after overcoming the budgetary constraints, and finally making the decision to have a website designed and developed, a business or organisation is often abuzz with activity, with the owners actively involved with the process of building the new and shiny website.
They would be busy with first organising content, and then submitting it to the web developer. Since in most cases the website is not considered central to operations, this stir of activity dwindles and vanishes after the website has been published.
From the developer’s side, there is also initially a flurry of activity as well. Creating and optimising. Throughout this process of website design and development, there is a lot of back and forth communication between the website owner and the developer.
The web developer makes changes to the website, and eagerly awaits the approval of the website owner. The website design and development process is probably the period of highest activity in the life of the website, in as far as changes are concerned.
What is desirable in the long run, is to make the flurry of activity extend beyond this initial period. This can be achieved by a change of mindset. It can be achieved by considering the website central to operations.
In sharp contrast to what happens in the website design and development stage, the activity of changes on the website often stagnates soon after the website is published. There may be a few changes here and there as the client suggests adjustments post-publication, otherwise, the website is for all intents and purposes, abandoned.
I say abandoned and not neglected because the neglect is so dire. The website might even go off-line in some cases without the website owners realising it for extended periods of time.
This may happen because, not only don’t they keep the website updated, but they also hardly ever visit the website, a few months after it is published. However, this is not how things should be.
Ideally, the flurry of activity should continue on from the website design and development phase, even if, as should be expected, at a slower rate.
The best way to ensure that the activity on the website continues post-publication is a change of mindset regarding the website. It should be considered a consolidation point for the activities of a business or organisation.
Instead of thinking of the website as a discrete element in a business or organisational activities, it should be considered a central part. Perhaps the best time to start thinking this way, is even before the website is built. During the planning stages. The website should inform the public, but also facilitate operations.
The first step in making a website a central part of operations is to ensure that it is easy to update. Depending on how a website is implemented, updating it may be a challenge.
It is a good idea to ensure that the website is dynamic, with a Content Management System, which allows for non-technical individuals to edit and update the site, once they log in with a username and password. The website then provides all the tools for editing and updating the website through a straightforward interface.
Static websites on the other hand require that, anyone editing or updating the website should do so by updating the raw code of the site. This approach presents challenges for non-technical individuals. It also means that, the website owner has to rely on the web developer, even for the most minor of changes.
Making a website the central part of operations, means that the website will reflect the level of activity of the business. This might be through a regular blog, news releases, newsletter, or offering of real-time data to clients, in the interest of improving customer relations.
Whatever the means and level of integration of a website into a business, or its organisational operations, it gives clients and visitors in general, a reason to visit the website. It should offer fresh and relevant content. If clients and site visitors are not provided with fresh and relevant content, then they have no reason to visit and revisit the website.
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