I’ve been in the web development business for over a decade, and I’ve never seen a site fail due to poor design or bad graphics. I’ve seen sites that were hampered by those, but it’s rarely fatal. What causes sites to fail is lack of content.
Good, healthy websites offer a constant stream of new content. And this content almost always starts with writing — what we call “copy” in the business.
Every month we work with businesses and non-profits who invest in shiny new websites. After the site launches, they commit to find someone to maintain it. Inevitably, this person is called the “webmaster”. When the organization goes shopping for a “webmaster” they almost always look for someone with design, programming and Photoshop skills. Usually this is the beginning of a death spiral of increasing website costs and decreasing value.
Good websites need content — copy, writing, news, articles, blog posts, success stories — whatever you call it. Yes, good design and graphics makes it more enjoyable, but even if you hire Michelangelo to do your design and Albert Einstein to do the programming, without content the site is just a pretty picture frame with no picture.
Good content brings back return visitors. Good content gets great search engine rankings. Good content is created by “writers” not “webmasters”. If you want someone to make your website successful, find a writer, preferably with a Journalism background, to be your webmaster.
If you don’t have anything new on your site, contract a writer to create one or two new articles for your website each month. Watch how that affects your search engine rankings and site traffic after a few months. Writers are not expensive, they work well as contractors and don’t need to be full-time employees.
If you are actively generating content for your site, consider contracting or hiring an editor. Get someone who can manage the content flow, make sure it all flows well, and covers all the basics. Churches and non-profits are notorious for frequently generating new content, but it often isn’t complete or lacks continuity.
If your site needs design work, then by all means hire a professional (hint: like MainStreetOpen.com), but once the design is done, you need a writer or editor to manage the site, not a programmer or designer.
End of rant, everyone back to work.