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Your Site Needs a Schedule

  |  August 14, 2002   |  Comments

Why sticking to a schedule is good for you, your readers, and business in general.

Every Web site, whether an intranet or a public, requires a schedule. A schedule defines how much content you'll publish and how regularly. This gives your publishing processes discipline. For readers, it provides consistency and lets them know when to expect new content.

One of the best and worst developments the Web introduced is 24-hour publishing capability. It's great you can update your Web site any time of the day or night. However, this can often create a laziness and lack of professionalism in how content is published.

Consistent publishing of quality content requires a schedule. You need to say, "We publish new content at 10 a.m. every weekday, and we stick to the schedule." It doesn't have to be every day. It can be once a week or once a month. The important thing is you establish a schedule and follow it.

This is my seventh year of publishing my newsletter. Holidays excepted, I've published it every week over those years. There have been good weeks and bad weeks. The show must go on. I made a commitment to my readers to publish weekly.

I have a schedule as a writer, as do practically all professional writers. They approach their work in a disciplined and consistent manner. Otherwise, things begin to drift. When you don't have a drop-dead date, the publication date begins to recede. Before you know it, you haven't published anything in ages and your Web site looks stale.

Today is Saturday, and I'm in the process of writing the first draft of next week's newsletter. This is what I always do. It's a habit. Tomorrow, I'll revise the draft. Then, I'll lay it out on the site. By Sunday night, latest, I'll publish it by email.

Sometimes, there are technical problems. I hate when this happens because I know at least some readers expect to see my newsletter arrive on its regular schedule. Many people are habitual in relation to how they read content. They like to read the morning newspaper with their morning coffee.

If you publish new content on your site every weekday at 9 a.m., you'll become acquainted with a new regularity in your Web logs. Traffic will spike between 9 and 10 a.m. At least some of your readers will get into the habit of checking your site just after 9 to see the new content.

Most Web sites lack publishing discipline. There's a mad rush to get lots of content published for launch. Then, there are mini-panics as people realize they haven't published anything new in ages.

A publishing schedule solves this ad hoc, amateurish approach. It helps everyone. Authors can plan time better because they know when new content is expected. Editors can allocate resources better. Most important, readers can plan when they should check the site again or know when to expect that newsletter they subscribed to.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gerry McGovern Gerry McGovern is a Web consultant and author. His most recent books are Content Critical and The Web Content Style Guide, published by Financial Times Prentice Hall.

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