Continuous Development: The Solution to Your Web Dev Pains
What is continuous development?
Continue development is one of the most significant things schools can do to dramatically improve their web presence and actually reduce their overall marketing costs is to begin practicing continuous website development. It’s the concept of, yes, continuously, updating and making changes to your website on a regular basis. This approach is in stark contrast to what most schools do today, which is to perform a major site overhaul every 3-5 years with little or no attention paid in the intervening time.
What are the benefits?
1. Avoid the friction of a stop-start project
There’s a lot of friction associated with starting and stopping a web project. Scheduling, project goals, project handoffs, revising and approving content and then learning how to use a new content management system are all obstacles tend to create a lot of resistance to moving a project forward. Not only that, but if a project stalls, everyone involved tends to forget what was done and why. In contrast, a continuous development team is in constant communication. This keeps relationships strong and vision well aligned, translating into a better overall product and working experience.
2. Avoid the pressure to get it right the first time
When working on a website only once every 3-5 years, there’s a lot of creative pressure to do it right because “we’re not going to touch it for a few years.” This leads to a hesitancy to make any decisions because the impact seems so big. In other words, analysis paralysis.
3. Avoid owning an embarrassingly out-of-date website
Perhaps the strongest argument for continuous website development comes in the avoidance of the opportunity cost of having a bad website. In the “redesign every 3-5 years” model, schools spend the last couple years saying to themselves and to students, “Yeah, our website’s not very representative of what who we actually are.” This creates wasted time and opportunity that a continuously developed website could have avoided.
How can I implement continue development at my school?
Your ongoing development work should break down into two categories; “reactive” and “proactive” work. Our advice is to keep the initial build as simple as possible and leave the majority of items for later phases. It’s important, especially when you’re getting started, to focus on building a minimally viable product (MVP) with a solid roadmap for expansion when the time comes.
Once you’ve created the foundation for your website, you can start in on the proactive work. Allocate a modest monthly budget and put your web development company on “retainer” to execute against the provided roadmap absent further instructions. Review the roadmap internally and with your development partner regularly to make changes as needed to what’s coming down the pipe.
The “reactive” work will be anything that pops up and needs to be addressed right away. These tasks generally have a higher priority than the proactive requests, so the web development team should handle them first. For example, the next step in roadmap may be to implement a blog on the website. But, if you decide there’s an opportunity to capitalize on college application season, then blog initiative may be sidelined while the new landing page or PPC campaign is developed.
So whether you’re in the process of building a website now or if your school is in need of a total overhaul, we suggest reevaluating your web presence roadmap before continuing forward. You could very well benefit from implementing the continuous development approach for your school.