Unlike a print publication, the web is fluid. This is one of its many charms & can be embraced when it comes to launching and maintaining your website. Of course the launch of a new site is a big deal and you want to make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s before sending it out into the world, but are you better off sending it out into the world knowing it’s a living thing or waiting until it’s perfect in every way? My advice is to send it out into the world, imperfections and all, and here’s why…
- Having something that is working for you is better than having nothing at all. While you don’t want to launch anything incorrect, embarrassing or just plain ugly, starting small and taking a staged approach to your site means it’s working for you at every stage. By raising awareness or getting search engines tracking you for your key phrases or even just capturing emails of potential future customers you’re leveraging small amounts of work that will pay off big in the end. You can learn more about this here in my post about “Coming Soon” pages.
- Update early, update often. Having worked in software development for years, and even just being a software consumer, I can tell you that even the most successful companies start small and learn and adjust as they grow. Angry Birds is a great example … it used to be that you had one choice, you opened it up, and launched those poor birds at those awful, smiling pigs. It was simple and gratifying. With great success for their super simple model, and feedback from users, you can now launch birds into space, or see their movie, or even buy a plush toy. Sure, this isn’t exactly the same model as launching a website, but the idea is pretty much the same. Start small and smart, learn as you go to make intelligent additions, and update early and often.
- It’s not permanent, it’s the web. Again, we’re not talking about untrue or embarrassing content here, we’re talking about regular site content … you’re not going to print presses where any mistakes or omissions will forever be in the hands of your audience with great expense to change them. You can update some text on the web in a matter of minutes for no cost (if you’re doing it yourself). So, if you’re regularly getting questions from potential customers because they’re not finding the answer on your website, then change that. If you’re getting more traction from one message and not another, adjust your site to exploit that. If you only have the content for A right now, and you’ll have content for B later, then publish content A, and tell people to stay tuned for content B soon (and ask them to sign up to your email list or subscribe to your blog to be notified when it’s available). Just like you adjust your business as you and your market change, adjust your website as often as you need to.
Food for thought: Most of the sites I work on now are custom WordPress installations. WordPress as a CMS has many advantages. Chief among them is that it’s easy to update your site yourself.
Investing in a solution like WordPress from the get-go may be the best money/time you ever spend. So as you’re thinking about where to put your money and time first, think about setting yourself up on the best long-term platform you can. Once you’re on a CMS you can overhaul as much as you want or need but you won’t ever have to think about your platform again. Even if this means you start out with an out-of-the-box theme and invest in a custom theme later, your money will be well spent.