How much time should you devote to your website?

Sometimes it seems like there’s never enough time in a day to get everything finished, especially when you’re a business owner.  Whether it’s bookkeeping, sales, marketing, customer service, or taking out the trash, there’s always something that needs to be done and it feels like 16-hours isn’t enough time.  I think we’ve all been there. What inspired me to write this post is an email exchange I had recently with a prospective client, who informed me that they were so busy they had no time to talk about their website and to just throw something together.  Needless to say, we ended the conversation there and informed her that “throwing something together” wouldn’t help them improve their website’s traffic and sales (which were their two primary goals) and that we don’t just make websites to make websites, we make them to accomplish goals.  But this conversation did make me realize that one topic that isn’t discussed a lot is how much time should be devoted to maintaining a website.  So let’s talk about time.

“Set it and forget it” is dead

There once was a time when you could launch a brochure website and never touch it again until the information changed.  This lead to a ton of websites with outdated content.  Maybe you’ve stumbled across one of them before, you can usually tell by the flashy, animated GIF that everyone used in the 90’s.  Well as a result of the outdated websites, Google updated their search algorithm to reward sites with frequent updates.  The theory is that if you’re updating and adding new content to your website, you are most likely providing up-to-date information that users want to find.

This doesn’t necessarily mean daily updates

One of the most efficient ways to keep your website fresh is through a content marketing campaign.  This has the added benefit of increasing your ranking for long tail keywords while also providing value to return visitors.  For most businesses this doesn’t mean daily updates, once or twice a week can make a huge different and doing something is always better than letting your website go without updating.

Redesigning, Migrating, or Reorganizing

This is perhaps the most time consuming task required of any website owner.  Launching a new website, redesigning an existing website, migrating to a new CMS, or reorganizing your content for greater user efficiency, requires a high level of communication and can often take several hours at one time to go through a new design or layout.  This is one area that the vast majority of website owners chose to outsource to an agency or freelancer because of the need to use PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, topics most non-IT pros would rather avoid.

Total Time Commitment

Since most business goals are managed on a monthly basis, let’s look at what’s required for a website for a small retailer in a small city of less than 100,000.  We’ll start out looking at the minimum time required to achieve each task and then look at ways to reduce the burden on you, the business owner.

Website Design and Launch:

  • Discovery – who is in your target market and what do they need from your website and what do they expect – 10 hours
  • Design & UI – creating a flat mockup of your design or finding an appropriate template to lightly customize, conduct and analyze user testing to determine visitor’s behavior – 20 hours
  • Development – translating your mockup into a working template with valid PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – 20 hours

Updating WordPress & plugins:

  • An up-to-date CMS is necessary to prevent any documented vulnerabilities from being used to hack your site.  The National Small Business Association estimated in 2011 that the average cost of a single website hack is almost $9,000 from lost customers, sales, and recovering the site’s data. – 2 hours

Content Marketing:

A small retailer in a city of around 100,000 has vastly different needs than a retailer in a larger city, or one that has a regional, national, or international focus.  Our small retailer should have a content marketing strategy that requires 1-2 blog updates per week along with at least daily social media updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • Blog post – a well written blog post takes our content marketing mavens at least 1 hour to research, write, and edit.  Your time will probably be greater. – 6 hours
  • Social Media management – posting photos, information updates, news articles, and interacting with your audience should take 15-20 minutes  per day. – 5 hours

That’s a lot of time

So based on our minimum time estimates, a new business or one redesigning their website will invest at minimum 50 hours for the redesign and then continue to invest at least 13 hours per month to have an effective website.  So what is a business without a dedicated marketing manager (or if the marketing manager is wearing multiple hats) to do?

By choosing to partner with a full service digital agency, a business can significantly reduce their internal personnel investment and only pay for the amount of services that they need instead of paying an internal team member a salary for a service that is needed less than 15 hours per month.  For example, Oso Studio would charge $2,250 per month to this retail business to manage their content marketing, social media management, and WordPress updates.

Outside of a lower investment requirement, a digital agency brings the advantage of having dedicated copywriters, social media community managers, and content marketing specialists working on your account without the need to manage each of their functions, they’re all handled by your account manager.

While it’s not exactly a “set it and forget it” experience using an agency, it is a streamlined process with decisions typically reduced to only needing an approval.  So to simplify your life and provide your website with an always connected management team, contact us today for a needs consultation.