Continuous Investment and Smiley Faces

An organization decides it’s time for a new website. All of the stakeholders get involved, bring in a skilled external firm, and together they figure out the strategy, content, messaging, and style.

The site then launches to great fanfare, and everyone loves it. On day one it’s the bold new face of the organization.

But if you check back in one year later, the grumbling has started. By Year 3, everyone talks about how terrible the website is. And by Year 5 it’s universally considered a complete embarrassment. So it is torn down and rebuilt from scratch. 

And the cycle repeats itself.

 The broken cycle of technology happiness caused by inconsistent investment

The same could be said for almost any digital product. In fact, it's a cycle we’ve all gotten so accustomed to, it can be hard to remember how broken it is. 

We got to wondering why this kept happening. Why, in Year 3 or 5, did everyone hate the exact same website that they loved on day one? Why did everyone’s opinion change when nothing about the site had changed?

Of course, that's the very problem. Five years after it launched, nothing about the site had changed.

Meanwhile the entire world had changed around it. The organization changed and their needs for a website had changed. Website styles had changed, so a five year old ago site looked hopelessly dated. The technology underneath it had changed, from platforms to security and speed. The expectations of users and accepted standards of the internet had changed. 

And all the while the site was stuck in the ancient world it was created in, even just five years ago.

Consider what an atrociously bad return on investment this is, for something as essential in this day and age as your website. Notice how briefly you’re in the green smiley face zone. In other words, despite all of the money and effort spent, your site is delivering on its potential for a miniscule amount of its lifecycle. 

 


 

By contrast, what does a product-centered, ongoing-investment approach look like? 

Well, you still have to spend the time and money to build a site in the first place. But importantly, that becomes the starting line rather than the finish line. Once the product is built you continue paying attention and investing on an ongoing basis. You admit that the site needs to continue to evolve in order to stay relevant, useful, and effective. But with that cycle of continuous investment, you manage to keep everything in strong working order.

Behold the profusion of green smiley faces.

 The functional cycle of technology happiness caused by ongoing investment

Yes, that cycle goes on forever. And yes, it costs money. But look at the comparative return on investment. You are devoting the focus and resources required for the product to deliver on its promise, to be effective for your staff, your constituency, and for delivering on your mission.

And what could possibly be a better investment than that.
 


The Curriculum