One of my favourite films is “The Princess Bride” (no really, I mean it, don’t judge me). As Prince Humperdink and his band of soldiers close in on The Man in Black and Buttercup he says: “She is alive, or was an hour ago. If she is otherwise when I find her I shall be very put out.”
OK, so the context is not very relevant to web sites, but the quote is. Your web site is a living, breathing thing. Like a beautiful, very high maintenance damsel in distress that must be cared and provided for in order to look her best.
The point, of course, is that no one should approach their web site as a one off project or even as something to refresh once or twice a year. It is a critical line of communication with your customers and thus should be an integral part of your daily marketing process with real energy, resources and time spent. The most success comes when you can make it front and centre of a marketing persons job description, rather than tacked on top of an already overloaded to-do list.
Hopefully, this is obvious and you are nodding your head in agreement. However, there is a second, often more subtle implication to this which can be missed: just like a Hollywood Princess your web site will look and act differently depending on who is watching. The office worker viewing your site on a huge flat screen monitor on their company broadband and the traveller viewing it on an old mobile device on a speeding train will each see a different side of your site. This is hugely different from, for example, printing a brochure which is fixed once and is the same no matter where or when it is viewed.
Perhaps even more significant your customers are looking for an interesting conversation; they don’t want an empty headed bimbo who only wants to talk about herself and the same boring stories all the time. Each different customer will expect your Princess to look stunning and be engaging no matter when or how they meet her. Instead they want to be understood, to be entertained and to quickly find what they are looking for.
Sorry, really stretching that metaphor now.
It is still, I believe, a better metaphor than the construction or project based ones we often use when talking about web sites. Unlike a house you don’t “build” a web site and then walk away. Unlike a “project” it is never completed.