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My Website is a Bit Dusty

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

My Website is a Bit Dusty ShapedLogic
My Website is a Bit Dusty ShapedLogic

Working Dolly Parton hours

Recently a friend and retail fashion business owner with over 15 years online and doing well with online sales asked me why the website looked "a bit dusty". The website was built a few years ago and had not been updated, it worked on all devices but had a dated design. The stock and price information was regularly maintained but there was not much work done on other content or the website itself. The copyright notice in the footer was dated 2017, there was still content for a 2020 offer on the home page. Most sales and customers were return business which is not a bad thing but only a small percentage of monthly sales were to new customers. Three people worked Dolly Parton hours on the online sales processing and had no time for other activity. This involved manually processing each sale and updating the sales information on the financial system. There was no automation.

The business owners showed me three competitors’ websites that were much better "quality" to their own. When asked what did quality mean to them they could not really explain.

The company was operating on a "business as usual" basis and did not see the value of the website and its role in the business and so did not allocate any time or money to maintenance and improvements.

Searching for quality

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values, by Robert M Pirsig
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values, by Robert M Pirsig

Ever heard of, or read, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values, by Robert M Pirsig?

If you went to a course or conference about management in the late 1970's or 1980's it would probably come up. The book is still available and can be bought in most online book stores and you can find a book summary at

The book is about a fictional trip with friends but, in simple terms, deals with the concepts of "quality". It compares the romantic to the realist.

There are some great messages in the book but I'll leave the detail to those that want an easy read. The book deals with quality, the need to be prepared and do your homework. The difference between someone who cares and someone who does not.

Are cars and bikes like websites?

Ok I'll admit I am a bit of a petrol head. I love most things with wheels and an engine. I can't remember how many cars I have owned but it is a lot. In my younger days, not that long ago, I enjoyed racing cars. Had my CAMS license and ARDC membership. I spent hours, days and even weeks pulling apart engines, drivetrains and suspension, and putting them back together again, just so I could occasionally race on a Saturday and Sunday.

But as cars became more complex and reliant on electronics and digital controls the maintenance task also became more complex. Maintenance required new skills and specialist tools. My jobs were limited to changing the oil and checking the fluids. Eventually the maintenance job went to professionals. My job was to keep track of the schedule and ask the right questions.

The messages in the book are all too correct, you cannot just wing it and hope for the best. To get to your destination you have to be prepared but take time to admire the view along the way.

Cars and bikes can get a bit dusty but that does not mean that they are broken. Regular checks and maintenance will avert failure.

Are businesses a journey?

In my opinion, they are and if you are not enjoying the journey then get out.

Most businesses have a life cycle (or a journey). Most pundits see four phases of a business: Startup, Growth, Maturity and Renewal (or Closure / Decline). Websites follow the same basic principle, but the lifecycle may be much shorter. Forbes reported that research found that the average lifespan of a website was 2 years 7 months. The lifespan can be extended through maintenance and renewal, but if left and not regularly updated any website will reach end-of-life.

Like any part of a business the website is an asset and needs to be valued and maintained.

How does this apply?

Website maintenance ShapedLogic
Website maintenance ShapedLogic

Everything needs to be properly maintained to avoid failure, work efficiently and effectively. This applied to cars, bikes and, you got it, websites. But the majority of website owners, and even some developers, think that it is set and forget. That is the difference between a person who cares and one that does not.

A great indicator that your car needs help can be a flashing light on the dashboard, a strange noise, leaking fluid or even dust and dirt. Or perish the thought, it just dies. Mostly these can be kept in check during regular maintenance. But if ignored can be catastrophic. But you cannot compensate for a poor driver, although recently more intelligent cars are doing just that using AI to avoid problems. Modern website platforms are also using technology to become smarter.

Websites can have problems and often issues can be fixed with regular updates in the software. Platforms like Shopify, Maropost, Wix, Aushops and many others have made many of the technical maintenance tasks much simpler. But they do not always look at all the issues that might impact your website. Some providers are now offering a more complete service that includes on-going maintenance and fast-response enterprise level support such as ZELLIS Connect.

Check the dashboard before you drive

Digital Dashboard BMW M5 - ShapedLogic
Digital Dashboard BMW M5 - ShapedLogic

Modern cars and bikes come with diagnostics instruments and indicators on the dashboard that alert you to an issue or warn of a problem. It is up to the driver to be aware of the signs and seek a solution before a breakdown. Websites also have diagnostics but these are not always available to the website operator. However as mentioned previously some modern platforms now offer smart dashboards that can keep you informed.

So, what can we do?

If you care about your business and website, then start by taking the time to look at the issues. You can create a calendar of tasks (indicators) to check your website and setup automated external checks like DiiB or Semrush for SEO, GTMetrix for performance, Pingdom to monitor availability, Google Analytics, Google Search Console and many others.

Recommended maintenance tasks

  1. Check availability and performance (daily)

  2. Review key metrics (Google Analytics weekly)

  3. Set and check calendar reminders for domain and SSL renewals (once)

  4. Check for software and security updates (monthly)

  5. Change administration passwords (quarterly)

  6. Backup all content to an external device (monthly)

  7. Make a test order with different payment and shipping types (monthly)

  8. Check all forms and contact pages and links (half yearly or if changed)

  9. Look for dead pages (Google Search Console monthly)

  10. Add new content and update old content (as regularly as possible)

  11. Check SEO scores and indicators (DiiB or similar)

  12. Review and update design and header / footer content (as needed)

  13. Check all terms and conditions, privacy and cookie notices (annually)

  14. Talk to your website users and customers for feedback (often)

Dusty user experience

Dusty customer experience - ShapedLogic
Dusty customer experience - ShapedLogic

Your website is the only interface with your online customers when they want to buy, so it needs to have the love and attention invested in it to reflect how critical it is to your business. Consistency of brand visuals and personality is important for brand recall of course, but if the marketing messages and promotions on the webstore are not updated and refreshed regularly, your customers might snub it in favour of a competitor who seems to be showing more signs of life. Imagine walking into your favourite clothing shop and noticing that they still have last season’s clothes in the shop window. It suggests a lack of care or diligence in the customer’s subconscious.

I spoke to Tim Davis, CEO of ZELLIS and asked him about customer experience.

"Why should your customer give you their hard earned money if you do not seem to care about them? Appearances may not be everything, but first impressions are based on appearances. So make sure the first impression EVERY customer sees is one that clearly showcases your value proposition and brand values, and then deliver on it all the way through the transaction and beyond," Tim said.

Tim went on to also explain; "Many online merchants put effort and budget into attracting visitors to their webstore, and rightly so. But if the customer experience on the webstore itself is not engaging, compelling, intuitive and memorable, it will not convert well. Just the same as you put the plug in before filling a bath, make sure your website has strong conversion so you can fully capitalise on the traffic that does reach it. Otherwise you are effectively throwing away some of the money you are spending on traffic generation activities. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow."

Visit the car wash or find a good mechanic

Next time you take a look at your website or online store and think that it needs a nice clean up to get rid of the dust and dirt consider looking more deeply. Take a deep breath and take some time to consider the overall quality and what you need. Remember QUALITY and the important of taking your time.

The last point in the task list is critical and that is get feedback.

If you make a habit of a small time commitment to regular maintenance and checks part of "business as usual" rather than just updating products and processing orders, then you may never end up in a situation where your site gets dusty and needs major maintenance involving significant time and cost.

I hope you enjoy the book if you get time (or take time) to read it.

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