One of the problems that I have noticed since being in business for myself is that many times customers will come to me with an idea for a website but they will have no idea what that website entails.
Makes sense. I have an abscessed tooth and need to have a crown done at the dentist. I didn’t attend dental school and have never done any reading on what it takes to put a crown on a tooth. So Saturday afternoon I will enter the dentist’s office with mainly blind eyes and have faith that he knows what he is doing and that he does it correctly.
Yet even so, I will spend at least half an hour on the computer looking up information about crowns before I sit down in that chair, so I have some idea about what is going on in my mouth.
I’ve noticed in speaking with some of my clients as well as with talking to potential clients that some have an idea of what they want their website to do-take orders, calculate shipping, inform, entertain-and yet they don’t think about what that means for future upkeep on their end.
Oftentimes a client wants to have the site developed and then hopes that it will simply run on its own after the job is done.
Unfortunately this is rarely the case.
Your website will require some maintenance once it has been designed. You may need to update products, change photographs, change text or, with a more involved site, access a database and modify records.
If sitting down at the computer makes you nervous, you need to discuss the long term plan for your website when you begin the planning stages.
For one thing, you need to know what will need to be updated on your site and how often it will need to be changed. If you are designing a site for your spa business, for instance, you may need to change prices once or twice a year, which won’t be that big of a deal; but you may also need to input new products, change the specials or send out a newsletter with coupons and tips. If you aren’t computer literate, you’ll need to find someone to do this for you.
Will your website need a database for records? If you don’t know, you need to find out. If you have customers signing up and then you are displaying their information on the website, then the answer is yes. What happens when the customer no longer wants to be on the site? Someone will have to delete those records.
Websites can run on their own for months on end if no information needs to be changed, but for most businesses, maintenance is a necessary thing. If you are uncomfortable handling the website on your own, you will need to hire someone to do maintenance, so ask these questions before getting involved with the site so that once it is ready you are clear on how the site will be maintained. Oftentimes your original designer will do the maintenance for a reduced fee, so that’s a great place to start.