Website research

The website life cycle

Central to an organisation’s approach to its website is the notion that a website is not a project that has a neat, definable beginning and end. Effective websites are managed around the notion that they are alive and that they have a life cycle. This applies even to websites that are created for a short-term purpose, where there is a pre-determined point at which the site will be removed from the Web.

At any point in time an organisation’s website is either being planned, under development or re-development, being launched, maintained, evaluated, enhanced and promoted or being assessed with a view to undergoing a re-birth.

These stages form a 'life cycle' which is rather like that of a garden: the initial planning, each section planted out according to a schedule, plantings monitored and tended, sections developed further to cater for growth and the implementation of new trends in gardening. Any gardener knows that this life cycle requires constant management if it is to yield rewards.

All the activities associated with a website can be plotted somewhere on the life cycle. The stages identified in the website life cycle are interdependent. Each is an endeavour in its own right and each has its own inner-cycle of processes.

Acknowledgement of the website life cycle and the need to manage it dispels the myth that developing and managing a website finishes on the day it is launched. The launch is, to borrow a phrase, simply the end of the beginning. This is the notion of a living website.

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