Journalistic media understands the need to keep content fresh, because their topics are constantly changing. News remains at least partially new, so they don’t really have a choice; they cover what’s breaking.
But when it comes to marketing, content freshness remains way behind. Some organizations, such as hospitals, almost have a legal duty to keep their website’s content current, to make information quick and easy to find, because they deal with legal and health information, which can change daily. But for the majority of companies and organizations, it just doesn’t happen.
These entities still think about their websites as little more than static, digital versions of their old print brochures; what we call the “one and done” mentality. But it just doesn’t work anymore. Information comes at us all fast and furious, and when a business has responsibilities to its customers, staff and possibly a board of directors, keeping content fresh is of paramount importance.
The Web is an ever-evolving medium, and the content that comprises it must reflect that. There’s nothing that says, “We really just don’t care,” like a website that greets a first-time visitor with dated graphics and copy. You can’t have much of an idea how many people you’re actually turning away before they ever get to know your company or organization because they never got past their disgust or frustration with the first screen.
Content must be kept up to date. It’s no longer optional. It’s now a cardinal rule of good site design and maintenance. But there’s a catch: No matter how important it is, to ensure fresh content, a site MUST be easy to update, or it’s just not going to happen. There are many ways to keep content updated, but the design of the production process must reflect keeping it simple.
- This means setting up a content update process that works for ANYONE who will be responsible for that task.
- If the content editor isn’t familiar with the particular CMS being used to build the site, they must be trained thoroughly and supported by tech staff to answer questions on an ongoing basis.
- Updating tasks must be logical and understandable, with as few extraneous distractions as possible.
There’s a good, thorough article at Laughing Samurai about best practices for keeping Web content fresh. It describes not just the whats but the whys, bringing home the importance of this function in keeping a website relevant.