“Good decisions are not made; they are managed.”
– John Maxwell
Maxwell’s point is that just making a good decision is easy. However, most people fail to live up to their good decisions. Only those who stick to their goals with consistency can ever achieve them. That is to say, the decisions that bear fruit are those that are managed well day in and day out.
The same logic applies to websites. You can follow all of my other steps for launching a successful website. As a result, your launch may be a resounding success. Without regular maintenance, however, that success can only be temporary. Anyone can build a website, but the most successful websites are those that are managed well after launch. Thus, in many ways, step six is the most important step of all.
First and foremost, you have to deliver on your promises. If you’re a blogger, post regularly, engage your commenters, and converse openly with others in your niche. If you’re an ecommerce site owner, maintain proper product listings, ecommerce gateways, and distribution systems. Whatever your site is supposed to do, put in the work to make sure it keeps doing it and doing it well.
Toward this end, you must enforce accountability. People are more diligent when they are held responsible. Identify which of your experts is tasked with each aspect of site maintenance, then develop metrics to track their performance and monitor them on a regular basis. Ideally, good performance should be rewarded to keep everyone’s interests aligned with the site’s success.
It’s also important to address user concerns. Only the simplest sites can hope to persist after launch without problems cropping up. If your visitors or your experts are complaining, attempt to resolve the issue. Give any feedback you receive its due consideration; even the belligerent ravings of a disgruntled user can reveal a genuine problem that deserves attention.
In a similar vein, it’s important to know your market. If you run a gadget site, but you don’t know about the latest and greatest gadgets available, your site will fall behind its competitors. Likewise, if you run a news blog, but you don’t keep an eye on the top headlines, nobody will give your posts the time of day. Know what’s happening in your market and how those changes affect your website. Otherwise, it will fail no matter how well it is maintained.
Lastly, and most importantly, remain vigilant. Your site may be buzzing along fine one day and experiencing serious problems the next. It doesn’t pay to become complacent and assume that everything is fine. Regular review and quality assurance will go a long way toward rooting out problems that don’t crop up elsewhere.
With all the work you’ve already done to plan, build, and launch the site, what matters now is that you know what needs to be done to maintain the its momentum and ensure that those things are done with consistency.
In my next post, I’ll address the final aspect of launching a successful website: Growth.