“Set it and forget it” is the worst advice for websites (here’s what to do instead)

Like many of you, I have an Instant Pot. It’s glorious. I can stick food in it hours ahead of time and eat a warm meal moments after walking in the door.

Whenever I’m using my Instant Pot, I’m reminded of the old commercial for the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie:  Set it and forget it.

Because that’s the best part about an Instant Pot, right? You can “Set it and forget it.”

One of the most common mistakes business owners making is applying the “Set it and forget it” approach to digital marketing.

Here’s the thing: your website is nothing like your Instant Pot.

If you expect to hire out your website build, and then “Set it and forget it”, please allow me to shed a little light.

Here are 3 reasons why you should never “Set and forget” your website:

  1. Security

    Let’s just get this on the table right away. Websites get hacked. (Giant companies get hacked frequently. Uber just reached a data breach settlement of almost $150 MILLION dollars!)

    Web developers always build with best practices in mind, but there are always new things that come up, which means you MUST keep your site updated.

    But what about little websites? Sites that don’t pass large amounts of data like Uber? Last week I received a call that a website wasn’t working. It was a site that sees maybe 30-50 views per month. So hardly any traffic. But the owner of the site needed to update some information and they weren’t able to do it. So they called me. I logged into the WordPress dashboard and was shocked to see 19 updates needed, including the core WordPress update.

    No wonder their site wasn’t working.

    I spent some time updating everything on the site, checking for conflicts, and browsing for any errors. Once that update was complete, the site worked fine again and they were able to login and make edits without any problems.

    Don’t set and forget your website. Make sure you regularly update your site if for no other reason than you care about the security of your site. 

  2. Your business changes

    Reason #2 why your website isn’t “Set it and forget it”? Your business changes. As businesses grow, slight modifications are always made. You tweak one thing here, you change something else there. A business is never “Set it and forget it” – so why should one of the most important pieces of your digital strategy be different?

    Hint: it shouldn’t.

    Maybe you’re shifting towards a new product. Maybe you’re realizing your target customer is changing. Maybe you’ve just refined your message a bit more. All of these changes should be applied to your website.

    Don’t set and forget your website: Let it grow with your business. 

  3. Design and UX trends change

    The last [very broad] reason why your website shouldn’t be “Set it and forget it” boils down to design. I’m sure I’ll get some flack for this one. We don’t always need to be up to date on the latest trends. But as time goes on, trends become accepted as best practice. Users get familiar with certain trends and come to expect it.

    Great examples of this include the menu bar along the top of a site. When websites first became a thing, there wasn’t always a clear place for a “menu.” Some sites had one along the top, some had a menu along either side of the screen, and some – like the epic Space Jam website – had an interactive image used to navigate through the site.

    But as web design progressed, a trend began to emerge. The menu bar started showing up more frequently along the top of sites. And users began to expect it. And now if a site doesn’t have a menu along the top, we expect to see a higher bounce rate, less interaction with the site, and fewer conversions.

    Don’t set and forget your website: Keep up with design and UX trends.

So what do you do instead of setting and forgetting your site?

I recommend to my clients (so I’ll recommend it to you, too) these few things:

Regularly maintain your site

Check for updates monthly at a minimum. Be sure you’re checking for conflicts with each update. Sometimes plugin updates can bring on the infamous white screen of death, or can cause funny interactions with other plugins. Always check for small things that come with security updates.

If you don’t want to do this, hire it out. It’s that important.

Pay attention to trends

I never encourage my clients to jump right on any bandwagon, unless it makes sense for them as part of their digital strategy. But I do pay attention to trends. And when I see one that makes sense for my clients, I bring it up. Just yesterday I chatted with one of my clients about how old design trends are negatively affecting his site, and how we needed to make some quick changes to improve the overall performance and conversion rate.

Blog regularly

One of the easiest ways to keep your site fresh is to blog regularly. Not only is this fabulous for SEO, but you’ll be in your site regularly so you’ll know what’s going on. Use your blog – and by extension your website – as an active part of your overall digital strategy.

View your website as part of your digital strategy

Your website shouldn’t stand idly by while your online marketing focus goes elsewhere. When done right, your website serves as a key piece of your digital strategy. You should know how people are getting to your site and where they’re going from your site. And as your business changes, this should too.

Above all, remember: Your website is not an Instant Pot.

You can’t simply set it and forget it. Your website is more like a simmering dish on your stove – keep an eye on it, stir it regularly, and be prepared for delicious results.

Need help with any of this? Let’s create Your Simplified Strategy.

In this free call we’ll:

  • Create a clear path so you aren’t struggling to figure out what’s next
  • Define your goals so you aren’t trying to pursue too many avenues at once
  • Figure out what success actually looks like to you – so you know exactly which direction you’re headed

 Let’s simplify your strategy. 

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