I have written on many occasions about how the Internet is a much more advanced communications tool than anything which has come before it, including hard copy brochures, catalogs and the like. The efficiencies are phenomenal. For instance, it is particularly unappealing (and costly) for most companies to reprint new collateral material when there are boxes of the current version still laying around; compared to updating some copy on the web site. Furthermore, the ability to create a user experience via the web that is timely, compelling and highly personalized is phenomenal, relative to print.
What this line of thinking doesn't properly account for however, is the fact that maintaining a great site requires considerably more internal resources than that which are required with more traditional media. For example, catalogers have / had a very cyclical routine that they followed for their print editions. In the weeks before a piece went to press, there was a heavy workload and a lot of scrambling, but once it was at the printers, things largely quieted down for several weeks or months (depending on frequency). The Internet by contrast is 24 x 7 x 365 and best in class web sites are likewise dynamic in terms of content, offerings, news, etc.
Web site visitors are typically quick to identify sites that are stale, non-user friendly, etc. I looked at the site today of a company who we were considering referring some business to that wasn't up our alley. The "About Us" section had dead links off it and the most recent press release in the news section was from April 2005!
Whereas a couple of years ago simply having a web site was a sign of being a progressive organization, today a site that is outdated or lacks polish can be perceived in a very negative manner. ou will get out of your web site what you put into it!
Back to the catalog / brochure era for a moment. Shopping through the mail or reaching out to a company and requesting their brochure was a relatively non-dynamic process, which didn't encourage much comparison shopping. By contrast, a bevy of competitors are easy to locate today though the search engines or comparison shopping sites for just about anything.
Try and scrutinize your site as often as possible to make sure that it is presenting the image, content and accuracy that your customers and prospects will expect. The costs associated with this effort are different from in the past (people versus printing), but the significance should not be underestimated.