The Long Cold Winter - blog article by Jeremy Girard,

The Long Cold Winter

I hate this time of year. I don’t ski or snowboard or engage in any wintertime activities, so the Winter months hold little for me other than cold, bleak days and what always feels like a painfully slow crawl to Spring and better times ahead. I know those days are coming, but looking at a thermometer that registered at -1 degrees this morning, the warmth of Spring seems so far away.

Adding to my dislike for the Winter months is the fact that they come on the heels of my favorite time of the year – the holiday season. Actually, it’s like a steady flow of wonderful months leading up to this bleak span of time that I dread on the calendar each year.

The Good Months

It starts with the fun of summer and our annual end-of-summer family vacation. That leads right into the cooler months of Fall and all the joys associated with that time of year – from apple picking (and the subsequent apple pies that result from that picking), to Oktoberfest with good friends, to the spooky fun of Halloween. Thanksgiving is next on the calendar - quickly giving way to the Christmas season, which I love more than any other.

It’s symbolic that as I take down the joyful holiday decorations and lights that fill my home, that a similar joy and light has also seemingly left my world. Forget what the Starks say - Winter isn’t coming. It’s already here.

A Period of Inactivity

As I have already mentioned, I do not engage in any of the typical sports or activities that are popular in Winter. In every other part of the year, there are activities or events that occupy my time - from visits to the beach in the summer, to hiking during the cooler months, to the traditions and holiday activities of Christmastime. It seems as if there is always something I enjoy doing from the start of summer straight through to the end of the holidays. That is when the fun ends.

I know that my dislike for this time of year is directly related to this period of inactivity. I am bored, so that fuels my apathy towards Winter. Inaction equal dissatisfaction.

Website Winters

I often see a similar period of inactivity on many newly launched websites – what I refer to as a “Website Winter.” This is the period of time after the excitement from that new site’s launch has worn off and the enthusiasm for keeping the site updated has waned. This is when the best-of-intentions break down and other responsibilities get in the way of updating web content. In short order, a site that was redesigned in order to “keep it fresh” slowly starts to grow outdated again.

Keeping a website updated with content that is unique and relevant takes a commitment. It’s all too easy to allow your other obligations to distract you from planned updates for your site. Once you’ve let one update slip, it’s a slippery slope to the next one and then then next. Before long, the site is back to where it was before the redesign – outdated and neglected.

Once again, inaction (in this case, the inaction of updating your site) equals dissatisfaction (if the site becomes outdated again, you won’t be very happy with it any longer).

Combating Winter Inaction

So what do I do now? Do I just accept the reality that Winter is a bleak part of year with nothing to look forward to other than the end of this time on the calendar? I’ve tried that in past years and, I can say from experience, it isn’t a great plan. It’s time for a new strategy. This year, I’m fighting back!

As I said earlier, I grow bored during Winter because of the lack of activities I have – so my family is putting some activities on the calendar. We have a glass blowing class that my wife and I are going to take, we’ve made a list of movies that we will catch up on over the next few months, and we are planning at least a few days away (maybe someplace nice and warm) for the kids’ February vacation. That is already more on our calendar than all of last Winter – and the New Year has just started! We still have more fun to add!

Maybe this Winter thing isn’t so bad after all (we’ll see – ask me again in the Spring).

Combating Website Winters

In a similar manner, battling against a period of inactivity for your new website requires planning. It also requires a team effort.

In terms of planning, you need to have a clear process and schedule for website updates. Whether those additions are press releases and news, blog articles, product announcements, or some other kind of update, you need guidelines for how those updates will be added to the site and when you will add them.

This is where the team effort comes in. You need backup for when your planned updates do not go as expected. Someone else looking at the calendar, and the website, to make sure that the schedule is adhered to is incredible helpful – and if other obligations suddenly get in the way of your plans, you can lean on this team for help. Whether you have other team members in-house who can assist you with website updates or whether you work with a professional agency, like the team at Envision, who can back you up with both strategy and execution of that strategy on the site, it is critical that you have a support system in place.

By having a plan of attack, and the right team behind you to help execute that plan, you can fight back against the bleakness of a Website Winter.

Published on 01.19.14

File under: Family | Process | Web

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