How often should material be updated

Web site content needs to be up-to-date, in line with customer expectations. The web is perceived as a dynamic medium, and customers are likely to expect new information to be posted to a site straight away. If material is inaccurate or 'stale' then the customer may not return to the site.

After a time, the information on a web page naturally becomes outdated and will need to be updated or replaced. It is important to have a mechanism defining what triggers this update process and leads to the cycle of Figure 9.9. The need for material to be updated has several facets. For the information on the site to be accurate it clearly needs to be up-to-date. Trigger procedures should be developed such that when price changes or product specifications are updated in promotional leaflets or catalogues, these changes are also reflected on the web site. Without procedures of this type, it is easy for there to be errors on the web site. This may sound obvious, but the reality is that the people contributing the updates to the site will have many other tasks to complete, and the web site could be a low priority.

A further reason for updating the site is to encourage repeat visits. For example, a customer could be encouraged to return to a business-to-business site if there is some industry news on the site. This type of content needs to be updated regularly according to the type of business, from daily, weekly to monthly. Again, a person has to be in place to collate such news and update the site frequently. Some companies such as RS Components have monthly promotions, which may encourage repeat visits to the site. It is useful to emphasise to the customer that the information is updated frequently. This is possible through simple devices such as putting the date on the home page, or perhaps just the month and year for a site that is updated less frequently.

As part of defining a web site update process, and standards, a company may want to issue guidelines that suggest how often content is updated. This may specify that content is updated as follows:

• within two days of a factual error being identified;

• a new 'news' item is added at least once a month;

• when product information has been static for two months.

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