Reviewing your personal websites
If you are like me, you may run or manage several personal websites in addition to those that you create or manage for paying clients. I like to review the personal stuff every year just to make sure that my master plan for Internet world domination is working. Only kidding! However, it is still useful to review your personal websites and these are the points I normally consider during the review process.
Note: You may have different goals but the objectives of my review are to determine whether to continue with each website and assess how much work might be required during the year.
Work, time, development and money
1. How much work does it take to keep the website running at a maintenance level and do I have time to do this? No point struggling along with something if you just do not have the time to do the minimum required.
2. Do I need to develop the website further? In most cases, you can always answer Yes here but you need to balance this against point 1 above. At the same time, you may want to push the website forward for personal reasons, in which case you may need to divert time away from client-based work.
3. Does the website make money? OK, this may seem like a no-brainer but sometimes I am just not happy with a website, perhaps for technical reasons and/or the amount of work required. Put the website aside or change website direction if this makes you feel better. In most cases, if the answer here is Yes, you’ll likely want to keep the website going I suspect.
Promotion and learning
4. Does the website help my business? You may find that running a local website gives your company greater exposure in your town/city/state/county. I have only promoted my business in relatively subtle ways through my personal websites but it has still resulted in client-based work on several occasions.
Note: I have never tried more pro-active or aggressive self-promotion because I don’t think that would be effective – and it’s not really me.
5. Is the website helping me learn new technical skills? It is always good to learn new stuff but sometimes it is more difficult to learn new things if you are focussed on keeping clients happy with their existing websites. Clients will not always be too happy if you spend their time learning Ruby on Rails when their website is a simple brochure-style website!
I manage a couple of websites that are most definitely not Web 2.0. In fact, they are quite old-fashioned in these days of social networks, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and the like. Should I keep my old websites going? In these cases, 1 and 3 above are key points. The websites may not be cutting edge but if they get visitors, pay for themselves, and maintenance is low….I tend to keep them alive.
I expect you have similar points that you consider for your personal websites. For me, the above are most useful.