Before you build a website, one might agree that you would at least:
1. decide what you want it to do for your company
2. be clear on who your audience is
3. find out what it is they most want from you online
4. find out what will work for most viewers, most of the time
And you might look at what some of the most successful sites do also:
1. offer simple use and navigation
2. constantly update or maintain the content
3. provide action points for viewers to be able to "do useful stuff"
4. look good and feel nice
So you build the site and its all looking good. But what about when this is done? What then?
In 15 years of involvement online, the one main thing i have noticed that determines the success of any website more than any other, is the allocated resource. Any websites i have seen that failed or went-under, was almost always because of the lack of resource. Not just content updating, but full maintenance of the website. I constantly visit sites and find broken links, difficult navigation and out of date content. When this happens viewers use the 'Back' button and will never return.
Not only do sites need to be kept upto date with new content, but old content needs to come off! So many sites i visit have pages of information that are hardly ever used let alone visited. Leaving this old content in place blocks that which is of most importance. Upto date and new concise information is the main reason viewers will return to any business website. This can be enhanced with e-Newsletters to remind and prompt viewers with snippets of things that boomerang them back to the website. Someone has to do all this. Yep, a person!
Sounds all too basic? Been told this before? Seems all too simple so you don't believe it and so your going to try something else? I hear these statements alot. There are no Silver Bullets in web. Few have the patience to stick with these things. Most people want fast results and are always looking for a quick solution. Seems to be our world with everything and few want to wade through the thick swamps of effort to find a pot of glory.
It takes effort and time to look after the site like an online business, not a flyer you got handed on the street. Employ some resource or make someone internally accountable for the website with content contributors. If you do not have an online task team, you are wasting your customers time, the companies money and your own credibility.
My advice is much like my dad's - "be patient and focus; nothing worth having comes over night". This can especially be said about good websites.