Keeping a site accurate, literate, and credible is the first priority of Web site maintenance.
Correct, without delay, any error found in-house or reported by visitors. Whether you correct features not operating properly in a browser or incorrect spelling, grammar or facts, your site needs to be 100% accurate.
The next priority goes to keeping site content up-to-date. Visitors return for new, exciting, and entertaining content. The most popular sites, from Dilbert.com to eBay to MSNBC offer viewers something new every day.
Update without Delay
If you provide reports on regular events, don't make visitors wait a month -- or even a week -- to read them. Prompt posting drives visitors to your site; delays drive them elsewhere. If you provide alternate versions for access by text-based browsers or visually disabled access, update those versions simultaneously with the main site.
Highlight the latest features on the home page and keep recent ones within a click or two for visitors who may have missed them. If older material is still of interest, keep it to increase the site's depth of content. Richness of content attracts and retains visitors.
Some older material might be timeless and worth a position on the site's current pages. The energy engineering site 21Design keeps a prominent listing of newsletters going back several years because the information contained in them is still current. Older material that isn't currently of interest should be stored in archives.
Archive Outdated Content
If your content is predictable and structured, divide archived material into logical search topics and provide navigation in a tree-structure directory. A site on agriculture forecasts, for example, could have folders called archives/eastern-us, archives/middle-us, and archives/western-us. Or, an organization's meeting reports could be filed into folders named by year, with links to each section.
Unpredictable content can be retrieved more easily with a site search feature. Free site search engines are available from many sources, including Google, FreeFind, and Atomz.com.
If a visitor returns to review information found earlier or sends a friend or an associate to the site to see it, storing that information in a searchable archive can prevent frustration and keep the visitor coming back. New visitors searching for older information might find the site through your archives then return for current information on the same topic.
Frequent updating and archiving can help to make your site the Web destination of first choice for your target audience.