My parents designed and built the very first home they owned together before I was just a twinkle in their eyes. This was back in the day when a house was built with the very best of workmanship and superior products, compared especially to the new house construction of today. This last summer, I became a first-time homebuyer, purchasing a 10-year-old house. I quickly started to see parallels between owning a home and managing a website, whether the website is brand new or an older build.

Even when a home is built using the right tools and very best materials in the industry, things can and will go wrong, regardless how old the house is. No matter how much care is put into the actual build of the home, the foundation will settle and cause cracks, the highly-rated fridge may malfunction, or a tree could fall on the house. So the smart home-owner plans for these events. They purchase warranties when necessary, obtain home insurance, and keep savings set aside for such emergencies. They probably also keep a budget for updates and upgrades to the house; they may decide that the paint in the dining room isn’t as good in the western sunlight as they thought it would be, so they choose to redecorate the room. Over the years, they decide that they should also restain the deck to keep it from rotting, so they use money from their budget to cover that work and perform other similar preventative maintenance.

New House / New Website Builds

Building a website is much like building a new home, and the smart team will be prepared for what comes after the site launches. Websites are not cheap to build, so it can feel like when the site is “done” it should be done for good. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality. Here are some things to consider when planning to launch a new website:

  1. Even if you use the top-of-the-line tool or platform — the one with the best reviews and feature set matching your needs something will come up after launch. Developers are only human and prone to error, and in spite of rigorous testing, sometimes bugs are identified months after launch. Modern websites often have numerous third party integrations that have changes impacting your site’s functionality and are prone to bugs from time to time themselves. A post-launch warranty will help deflect some of the costs from these issues, but you should definitely plan to have a budget for ongoing bugs and maintenance.
  2. Every good platform will need to be updated from time to time in order to combat new security vulnerabilities, fix bugs, and add performance enhancements. You’ll want to plan to spend money every year on such maintenance. If you let your platform get too out-of-date, you can end up spending much more later to update it and may also have the added risk of being breached which can lead to much more significant costs and customer impacts.
  3. You’ll absolutely want to set aside some money over the year(s) also to add new features. Maybe you’ll do a full brand refresh and need to update your website to match, or you’ll learn about a new feature that makes it easier for users to check out, or you’ll decide you want to add a new marketing automation tool to your site. Many of our clients invest another 20-50% of their initial site costs annually for ongoing feature development to enhance their user experience and ultimately increase conversions.

Existing House / Existing Website Builds

Perhaps you already have a website and aren’t looking for a new platform, but rather you’re switching to a new engineering partner and looking for your website to generate more conversions. In that case, here are some things to consider:

  1. If you haven’t been continually updating your platform, a larger version update is going to be more complex and costly than incremental updates. Regardless, it’s still imperative to the security of your site.
  2. If you haven’t updated the look and feel of your website in a while, you can start by making gradual changes, but it may also be worth doing a full site redesign to better tell your brand’s story with a modern look and feel.
  3. A variety of new 3rd-party tools and integrations will be available that could help you modernize your site with new features and capabilities.

Just like a house, a website is a significant financial investment, but with regular maintenance and new features, both can be a great investment!