Facebook is like fashion. It never ends.
I was watching..or re-watching....The Social Network the other night and my ears pricked up as I listened to some dialogue between a young Mark Zuckerberg and his equally young financier, Eduardo. They were celebrating the fact that The Facebook was about to "go live" and Eduardo asked if the site is "finished". Mark shot back, "It's never going to be finished. Facebook is like fashion. It never ends."
Not quite sure if Zuckerberg ever actually said that, but it's an interesting and bold point, not just for Facebook, but all web sites or web applications. I've always been a big believer that a website is a continual improvement process. Sure you can launch and leave it. But the site then becomes stale. It's design becomes stale, its content becomes stale. And visitors stop coming back.
How many sites have you been to lately where the "news" section was last filled in 3 years ago. Where the site looks odd when you look at it in on your smart-phone? These are the sites that suffer from "launch and leave". Like a neglected yard, the weeds start accumulating and people just see your site as a wasteland.
Often times, we as designers/developers, need to share the blame for this with our clients. We build sites to a budget that doesn't take into account ongoing maintenance, post-launch reviews, or even educating the client on how best to keep the content on the site fresh. And I think it is up to us in the design/development community to lead the way in, at a bare minimum, communicating this message to our clients. Keeping them educated on the pitfalls of stale content, on the importance of re-visiting the site for design updates on an agreed interval, or reviewing that the site is keeping up with the goals it was originally designed to meet. Surely these points are something we should be looking forward to doing, not shying away from.
A young Mark Zuckerberg was right, and had he left Facebook as it was when it originally launched, it wouldn't have over 500million regular users that it enjoys today. Websites are like fashion. Never finished. Never done.