Make important web site investments when you can

Make important web site investments when you can.

We have an association client that last redesigned their website in 2012. Eight years in a website design is a LONG time, and usually those who retain an old design are either static in activity, or have several other hub sites for activity that are maintained in a more current fashion. This client is neither of those things, and is reaching the breaking point of their site.

They have been told this several times for many years, but they refuse to invest in their site. It seems to be a flaw in the organization decision making process itself. It is hosted on a software as a service framework provider, which allows no FTP and requires clients to evolve with their software changes, or suffer the consequences. This client has suffered the consequences – in addition to looking very dated, the design theme is no longer supported by the software provider, so upgrades are often not available to the client as the theme will not support them. Site features can break sometimes with software changes, and changes and new features can’t always (or often) be implemented. To move to a new theme within the same SAAS framework will definitely be a redesign, there’s no way around it with how the software/hosting works. And the content in eight years has grown to a point that it needs to be reshaped for the easy usage of the association’s members. It is way past time to redesign this site.

It isn’t that the client couldn’t have spent money on this, they chose to spend it differently. But now they may be stuck. The pandemic and resulting economic shock is going to force everyone to tighten their belts considerably, this is true for the association’s members and advertisers, which means it will be true for the association. There is no saying how long this belt-tightening may last. I am sure there will be associations that disappear forever in the next few years due to the economic conditions, associations that didn’t see that possibility coming. And now, when associations will need to move more and more of their value online because of social distancing requirements, this particular association is going to find itself stuck… stuck with a platform that hasn’t kept up and can’t support these value propositions, stuck with a catch-up technology cost at the worst possible time, and stuck with a software as a service provider that is going to go through its own belt tightening requirements, because frankly, we’re all in for that.

It won’t surprise me if this association tries to make this design last another 3 or 4 years, hoping to get beyond the current economy into something much better, and that may work for them. They won’t have a mobile version if everything stays as is with the site and software, the theme doesn’t support it. Yep, really. But I expect the site to eventually break in ways that aren’t really useable and then the association will have to move in an emergency manner. Maybe then the association will realize that they need more forward thinking leadership of their Board to move ahead, and require it.

Or, maybe the national association will take over this state chapter, because it will be ripe for the taking. I think that is more likely.

The lesson here is simple:  If you have the resources and you know the need, don’t neglect upgrading your web site, because it can cost you dearly in the future.