Why you should publish your incomplete website (revisited)

If the headline on this article sounds familiar, it probably is. Because this isn’t the first time this blog has touched on this topic and it won’t be the last.

The reason the issue is being revisited is the scale and impact that the malaise of the never-completed website has on small business.

Literally thousands of smaller businesses are suffering from the loss of business caused by dated and often unsightly websites.

By way of illustration, I have two small business clients whose relatively small websites have taken well over 12 months to complete.

A 12-month delay

The first, a financial services website, has been stalled while the client makes alterations to the website content.

More than 12 months ago we ‘stripped’ the previous and very dated website of its content as a starting point for refreshed content for their new website.

The plan was for the client to edit the dated content to bring it into line with where there business was today — a process that was planned to take no more than 30 days.

Yet here we sit, exactly 12 months later, without progressing the website whatsoever. And to answer your next question, yes they have been prompted and encouraged on a regular basis to progress said content.

Loss of face and new business

In the meantime, the current and dated-looking website is making their business look out of touch and disinterested and no doubt turning away prospective clients.

What’s more, because the website has not been re-optimised for search engines during this time (this was to occur with their new website), it’s likely that any prominence the business had on Google and other search engines has since been well eroded.

And they’re not alone.

Another client has taken even longer to make changes to their content. And similarly, their 10-year-old website is doing nothing to assure their stakeholders that they are a progressive, dynamic and reliable business as their old website gathers so much digital dust.

Search engine penalties

This website is in even worse shape than the first client because it isn’t ‘responsive’ (adaptive) to mobile phones and devices, which not only inconveniences their stakeholders but means the business incurs Google’s penalty for websites that have failed to do this — costing them business too.

In both cases, the answer to these chronic delays is simple: publish your new website with your existing content. 

While in many ways that seems like waste of a new website, it isn’t as bad as the alternative.

And the reasons are plentiful.

Reasons to carry on regardless

First, while you might think your content is dated, it’s unlikely that its reason for being, your customers, will necessarily share this view.

Your customers will want to find out as much about your organisation as possible in order to make a decision about what they will do next.

They are more likely to judge you on a dated-looking website than what you are saying about your business.

Second, you can still improve the search engine optimisation on old content as much as you can with new. By doing this, these clients’ websites would have received a boost in Google prominence, even though their actual content remained largely unchanged from its previous version.

Third, both of these new websites will include an easy to use content management system (CMS), allowing each business operator to make as many alterations to the website content as they wish.

Edit the content later

This means that instead of holding up their new website because they haven’t had a chance to update the previous content ‘on paper’, these businesses can instead make the updates to the otherwise completed website, even after publication.

Of course, as a business, our small agency suffers as well. We don’t get paid the money we had planned until the website is completed — despite interim payments — which doesn’t auger for great relationships with your provider.

So if your new website is getting held up because you cant find time to alter its words and pictures, just go ahead with the old content.

You’ll be way out in front by doing so. And so will we!

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Nicole Leedham
Nicole Leedham
4 years ago

Or, even better hire an SEO copywriter to help with content 🙂 That way, the web dev gets paid, the client can concentrate on core business, and the final website content will not only be seen by google, but engaging to the target audience! Wins all round

Amanda VanElderen
Amanda VanElderen
4 years ago
Reply to  Nicole Leedham

Completely agree Nicole. I’m all for pushing things out and then iterating, but design without engaging content? Disagree that the audience will forgive it. They might visit, but they won’t go back, and they won’t convert.

Matt Fenwick
Matt Fenwick
4 years ago

Better to scale back the amount of content on the site and do it well, then plan for future iterations with the content fleshed out. If the content plays any role in client decision-making at all (and we can assume it does), then why serve up substandard work?