When you look in the mirror every day, you don’t notice subtle changes, but over time, you may realize that your hair has become a little gray, or your stomach sticks out further than before, or your wrinkles have become more apparent. However, it is still easy to tell that the person staring back at you is you. Even though your clothes may have changed or your ideas are a little different, you still exhibit similar qualities as before you caught these changes. Just as in life, changes to your web page are evolutionary, not revolutionary; they usually proceed by small daily steps and not big radical ones.
Keeping your content current is not difficult to do if reviewed often by the administrator of the site. The longer you keep the content outdated, the less often people will return to your site if there is nothing new to see. Likewise, new visitors will not stay long if they notice that your site has been neglected over time. There is no need for fanfare every time you make a change, but people need to notice that you care enough to check if your content needs replacing or polishing.
The most noticeable evidence of an outdated page are “broken” links, or links that do not send the visitor to another page. If you rely on other pages for part of your content, people will not be amused if you promise product information or the latest news from someone if the link gives them a “File Not Found” message. Some content on the web expires after being posted for so long or gets moved to an archive. You need to stay abreast of your off-site links and be certain that either they still exist elsewhere or have disappeared completely and make any necessary changes to your site.
Radical changes in design are one way to show that you are keeping an eye on your content, but make these changes to often can backfire. Think back to our analogy of how you look in the mirror. Does your wardrobe change every week, or do you usually keep the same outfits for a few years before moving on to newer styles? Unless you are a teenager trying to keep pace with “what’s hot,” the answer is probably the latter. In terms of the layout of your site, you may want to make subtle changes every so often to keep it interesting, but overhauling your site every month is not necessary. Picture for a moment the logo for Coca-Cola, Sears, or Ford. These logos have remained the same for many years, and although changes have occurred for all of them, people recognize these logos worldwide. The same is true for a web site; people remember you for the design and structure of your site and only expect you to keep the content fresh and original.