My husband and I bought a new house last summer. It’s taken us over a year to get every single box unpacked, find a home for everything we own, decorate, and put in the finishing touches that make a house a home. We’re not done but I’m definitely losing steam. Maki is sick of hanging pictures, the boys’ rooms look nice but they’re missing wall shelves and curtains, and and the garage is in much better shape but we still can’t park both cars inside.
Here’s the rub: the house looks good, it’s functional, and we don’t *really* have to do much more. So it’s tempting to just live with what we have even though we could make the house so much better.
So it goes with a website redesign. I’ve blogged in the past about how a website redesign is a lot like moving to a new house. After a move, you have endless tweaks, you can’t decorate all at once, and you get a whole lot done when you throw a party. Somewhere along the way, you lose steam.
And when you lose steam, you start throwing content on the home page to make everyone happy, you start adding endless items to the navigation, you start tossing content into the generic Resources bucket, you stop updating the branding area, and you stop making the effort to make every page look interesting with images and formatting. After a year or two of this, you get sick of how badly organized the site is, you think the content sucks and you decide to embark on a full redesign.
Here are my top tips for preventing your website from becoming cluttered and disorganized.
Resolve to do some dusting and cleaning every week. Set aside time every week to review content, refresh content, delete old content, and archive things you no longer need on the site.
If necessary, hire a cleaning service. Sometimes, we need professional help to keep our homes habitable. And think of how much cleaning you do before the cleaning lady comes! Hiring an outside consultant does much the same thing. You end up thinking about your website and you work with the vendor to keep it tidy and organized.
Purge on a regular basis. Remember the closet rule? If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss. Same with your content. If specific content is no longer current, if nobody is accessing it or your organization can’t commit to keeping it updated, best to just remove it from the site.
Find a proper home for all new content and services. It’s inevitable that after launching your website, your organization will launch new services. Don’t just put it on the home page or stick in Resources. Find a proper home for it so that it’s findable now and in the future.
Finish the decorating. When I bought a condo after grad school, I painted every wall and door except the door to the master bathroom. I didn’t get to it within the first few months when I was doing my heavy decorating. Well guess what? That door stayed unpainted for 5 years. If your website has unfinished elements, resolve to finish them in the new year. Perhaps you have a newsletter that needs to be redesigned, maybe you want to have a unique image in every header, or you want video bios for all the leadership. Don’t wait and don’t lose steam. Create a schedule and get it done.
Update your decor and organizing system regularly. Instead of waiting 3 or 4 years to re-organize your site or update the design, resolve to do a review every six months. Analyze your analytics and make pages more findable. Optimize your site search. Create the new dropdown menus that include all of your new content.
I have a friend who moves every 10 years. I am now coming to the conclusion that her house gets more cluttered every year until she *has* to move and when she does move, she declutters, re-organizes and purges. Don’t be like my friend. Do your cleaning, decluttering and redecorating a little at a time, every week, and keep your site fresh and organized. It will be less work, cost less money and your visitors will appreciate the time you’re taking to give them a clean and streamlined experience.