Many libraries give a lot of thought to how their website looks, and some even spend a significant time thinking about how people actually use their sites. However, one aspect that often gets overlooked is the content. Content especially gets ignored once it’s actually up on a site; how many times have you run across a web page where it’s sadly obvious that no updating has been done in weeks, months or even years?
Gerry McGovern, who runs a web content management company and is the author of several books on content management, refers to this outdated material as “smelly” content. He makes the analogy that it’s much like leaving a basket of rotting fruit out for your visitors:
“We would never leave rotting fruit on a reception desk, yet we leaves masses of putrefaction on our websites. It may not smell but it sure does stink, and it is damaging your reputation and your brand. The credibility of your content is vital because, if the impatient, skeptical scan-reader gets the slightest sense that the content is not accurate or up to date, they will hit the ‘Back’ button.” (Killer Web Content, 2006)
What does this mean to me, Laura?
- When’s the last time you really went back through your website content? Not just dusted, but vacuumed and scrubbed? Be honest. It probably wasn’t yesterday, or even last week.
- Old content isn’t just old; as McGovern so aptly points out, it’s literally damaging. How can your library say that it is a relevant institution when it doesn’t even maintain information on its own website?
- If your library doesn’t have a schedule for reviewing content, it’s time to get one. Even twice (once?) a year is better than nothing.