A Website’s Life

Aug 30, 2017

Imagine your job is to run a website.

You build it, get it running, promote it and people start using it. Things are going well! After this initial rush you settle down into maintenance and growth mode. There is no more mad scramble to add new features or scale the site. Users like your content and slowly tell their friends. Things are growing, albeit slowly.

First you add some site analytics because you want to see who’s doing what on your site. Great, now you have a bit of insight into user behavior. You hear that buying ads on Facebook is effective to drive traffic, so you set that up and install their tracking code on your site. Easy peasy! You spend a couple bucks here and there, a/b test some things and do a couple of small test ad-buys. It turns out that its pretty difficult to get users to click on your Facebook ads, so you try Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Adwords, to test things out. Some things work but you’re seeing sporadic results. Meanwhile, your marketing manager is complaining that the site has too many tags and that you need to add a tag manager. Your site’s header looks like somebody fired a shotgun of bad code at it, so you listen and install a tag manager. Awesome, that made things a bit neater and now you can easily install tags with the click of a mouse!

The internet has been buzzing about exit intent and how its the new hotness. You need to capitalize it to retain users! It’s so easy to sign up for another AdTech company and install their JavaScript snippet in your tag manager, so there’s not even a second thought. Now when a user tries to do anything on your site, it will show them a popup modal and ask them to sign up for their email list. If they just want access to your content, they’ll have to click on a snarky cancel message. Haha! “No, you don’t want awesome content?”, they’ll love that! Oh yeah, while you were installing exit intent popups, it turns out that email lists are the best way of contacting your users according to an article you read in Fast Company. So you sign up for Mail Chimp and begin cranking out emails. They say it doesn’t matter what its about, just that its on a consistent schedule. Let’s get that content flowing!

People love your content and sometimes post about it on social media. Awesome! New marketing channels! So you create a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Pinterest board, an Instagram account, a Snapchat account and whatever else the kids are dooting on these days. Well it turns out managing five social media accounts is a lot of work! Good thing there’s a SAAS out there to solve your problem, so you sign up for one and start dooting to your users. Oh, in the mean time, wouldn’t it be cool for people to be able to doot to links to your content to their friends? So you add some social media links to your site so they can easily share content! Brilliant!

Your boss comes by and wants to create more of a community feeling to your site, so you add a comments section with the leading comment section SAAS provider out there. It’s better than installing your own comment section because now users can sign up with Facebook or Twitter! Except they inject ads onto your site unless you pay them, so you pony up the monthly fee and pay them to host comments. Users begin commenting! Sweet!

Uh oh, people begin commenting on random pages that the site is really slow and doesn’t load well on mobile! Well crap, what can we do about that? Well, there’s this thing called Google Accelerated Mobile Pages that you heard about on CNET, let’s try that out. So your developer makes your site AMP enabled and you begin serving content via Google AMP. Now when users search for content on Google, they get a cached version of your site. Uh oh, but it also means they’re sharing mangled URLs on social media now. Well, we’ll deal with this later, we have more pressing matters right now.

Turns out you left some ads running on an obscure ad network and you racked up a couple thousand dollars in charges. Well that sucks, things must have gotten lost in the shuffle when you were testing ad platforms. You turn it off and go through each ad network to check for running ads. After ensuring no new ad campaigns are running, time to solve some other problems. Your last email campaign had an abysmal open rate, so you’ll need to troubleshoot that, but first you need to schedule some doots on social media. You start troubleshooting your email campaigns and it turns out your emails are going straight to the spam folder. Probably because people don’t like getting multiple emails per week from your site, explains the high unsubscribe rate too. You don’t understand, people are really engaged with your content! They’re commenting and sharing links… right?


The handy social sharing links you installed have only been clicked a handful of times. The fancy comments section is full of unrelated and low effort comments. Nobody seems to be talking to each other, just using it as a place to air their grievances about the slow load times and the incessant nagging exit intent modal. They still love your content, however it’s getting more and more difficult to reach it.

The site experience is starting to get bad, the console starts spitting out JavaScript errors because some of the SAAS services you installed went out of business. Browser updates begin breaking your site functionality (or so your developer tells you, it’s actually terribly written code). Things are beginning to grind to a halt so you do what any sane person does, decide to throw it all away and start fresh with a newly redesigned website.

You hire a top tier web agency to build the site (priced accordingly). They come highly recommended by the team in your sister company that just went through this process. They agile their way into a beautifully designed work of art, complete with full bleed high resolution images, quirky and cool widgets hidden in off-grid locations, carousels for days and a revamped homepage with megabytes on megabytes of images. It’s beautiful! The work is complete and they hand the site over to you and your team.

Imagine your job is to run this website…