Embarrassing websites

Robert Browning wrote, “…a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”

I’ll bet he would have made a lousy painter or window-washer – or Web site builder or blogger.

A website (or a blog, which is just a special case of a website) is like a puppy. It starts with enthusiasm, but if you don’t give it regular care and attention it will embarrass you later.

Your site’s size and complexity should be constrained by your ability to maintain its accuracy, timeliness and freshness.

Some short-lived features may be beyond your ability to replace them frequently. So don’t build them in the first place. It’s better to have fewer pages than to have stale ones.

If you have a good programmer on your Web team, you can put in some simple automated content management tools.

Put a hidden comment in each page that indicates when it should be updated next, then regularly run a program that scans your pages looking for those that have reached their “best-before” date. Change that best-before date every time you update its page. Different pages will have different “shelf lives.”

The grocery store analogy is appropriate. Some of what’s on a grocery store’s shelves will keep indefinitely, but a month-old newspaper or cabbage won’t do much for the ambience. So appoint a stockperson today to make sure everything is fresh every day.

Also: The business case for your Web site