The Path of Constant Web Refinement

A website is not something that is made for you and "finished"; it is an evolving platform that organizes your offerings and interacts with your customers, friends, and constituents. When we make one, we're just looking at it a certain way at that point in time, and as the times change we should keep looking at it to see if there are any possible improvements.
 
"But I just want to say its DONE and never want to look at it again!" 
xkcd comic  

Some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Is my site producing the results I want? - new customers, new students, new volunteers? If yes, why? If not, why?
  • Are the changes I make to my site done from a statistical evaluation of how the site is used? How do you know what to spend money on or not?
  • Are all of the areas of my site in alignment with the "funnel perspective" - getting people to see and go where I designed the site lead them? (Shopping Cart, Forums, Social Networks, Video Pages, Newsletter Signup)
A reason we might have not seen these questions already, is the: "build it yourself" phenomena. There are tools like Wordpress.com, Blogger.com, DrupalGardens.com, etc. that  provide do-it-yourself website design tools. I would like to comment on this. A website is much like a house - it has rooms, corridors, windows, structure, colors, etc. It also produces the result of giving you a comfortable and safe environment to live in. A website is similar. To make one that works, feels good, and is effective, you would spend time in the areas of website construction, graphic design, user-experience design, and programming fundamentals, and then make many trial & error websites and learn what works and what doesn't. It takes time, patience, and constant re-evaluation of what worked vs. "what I wanted to do." So, if you decide to bypass this learning and use someone elses tool and more casually throw something up there, you might not be understanding why something goes where it goes, and for what purpose. And also, you're branding yourself in the unprofessional looking direction, whether you want to or not. To me, that is the difference between blogs and web-properties. A web property is a beautiful house that is designed with much foresight and planning. This discussion is just a true evaluation of our capacity - just be honest, we all could build our own houses, but typically we choose to job that out to the pros. The best compromise that exists between have someone do it for you, and do it yourself, is the Drupal Content Management System, what all of our sites are built with.
 
Beautiful sites make people believe in you,  and thoughtfully designed sites keep people coming back.