Updating websites every day (without too much work)

With the right phone, you can update your site wherever you are (click pic for credit)

Got a website? Feeling guilty because you’ve not fed it lately?

While it’s probably not the end of the world, unchanged websites soon slip down search-engine rankings. The digital version of tumbleweed doesn’t look good at the best of times.

Perhaps, worst of all, if your reason for neglecting it is that you’re too busy, the untrained eye may conclude that your quietness is a symptom of laziness or disorganisation on your part.

This doesn’t need to be quite the case. In many ways, if you don’t feel compelled to add to the pool of human knowledge – or don’t have much to add at the moment – then maybe it’s best to keep quiet.

But if you do need to keep the momentum going, it’s worth remembering that there’s updating and updating.

If your readers are used to regular lengthy think-peices, then what follows won’t be of much use (though a gradual shift to breadcrumb-trail writing may help give your readers more manageable expectations)

Here are a few ideas that may help a bit – not all will match your circumstances, but some may:

  1. Picture galleries can be updated easily. This site – one we just launched for Enigma – has a slideshow on the homepage. It’s based on a simple website plug-in that grabs tagged photos from Flickr. Changing these is simple – and you don’t need to be a design wizard. Flickr is designed for ease-of-use so updating your whole site’s look-and-feel is an option for everyone. I’m helping out with another site here – Floored Genius are a new company (site content still in progress) who are adding things to their range all of the time. This page finds it’s gallery updated simply whenever their team load up new tagged pictures to Flickr – even the sizing is looked after. No tech skill needed!
  2. RSS feeds can take up some slack. Take this page on Teresa Pearce MP’s website. As it happens, Teresa is quite dilligent about keeping her constituents informed, but every time she does anything in Parliament, Hansard notices. And when that happens, the They Work for You website is updated. All I needed to do was to grab the RSS feed, choose the right tool to convert it (a quick job) and then embed it in her site. Regular updates follow effortlessly. So is there anything that you do a lot which is recorded by a similar feed? Is there any activity that your organisation participates in that your readers may expect updates on? Then grab the feed!
  3. Make sharing more effective. I subscribe to Google Reader and read my items during my daily commute. Sharing is a one-stroke action on my iPhone. This page on my site does the rest – again using that RSS trick mentioned above. Very easy and quick to implement.
  4. Remove the physical barriers to posting. Does your site require you to be sitting in front of your PC to update it? Increasingly this isn’t the case. Most website systems now have a post-from-your-phone or post-from-email option. If they don’t, maybe try Posterous or Tumblr (which definately do) and take a feed from them! Short postings by email can be easier to schedule.
  5. Make Twitter a feature. Are you a fairly regular user of Twitter? You could have your tweets featured in the sidebar of your site? Or you could just amplify individual tweets in a stand-alone posting on your site. Here’s one I prepared earlier (it uses a simple WordPress plug-in called Blackbird Pie):
CHINA SHOPS. Avoid your worst nightmare by simply installing a cattle grid to your entrance. /via @
Twop Twips

This will help with that ‘breadcrumb trail’ strategy. If someone else’s tweet inspires you, grab it and add a short observation.



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