How to Perform Site Maintenance Without Offending Your Visitors
In an ideal world your website would never be offline. Ever. But every now and again it has to be in order to update it and carry out essential repairs. It’s essential that you do everything you can to make sure that disruption is kept to an absolute minimum in order to limit the amount of damage it does to your business. But it’s also really important that you are not so scared of taking your website down that it becomes stale and out of date. Your web host will be able to advise you on ways to avoid more downtime than you must have. Make a plan well in advance of when the site goes down. Here are some ideas:
Carry Out Repairs at Slow Times
Look at your analytics to see when your website is the busiest, and the most quiet. Keep any repairs back for a time that you can be as sure as possible that you will be getting minimal traffic. This will depend on the type of website that you have and your audience so look at your results carefully.
Have a ‘Maintenance Page’
If your website is down for repair then have a page ready to put up apologising for the brief interruption, and letting visitors know when they will be able to access you page again. It looks much more professional than just a ‘not available’ page. Keep it simple – you don’t need to go into detail. This will be enough to reassure your visitors that you know that the website is down – and so you won’t be flooded with emails letting you know either.
Go Out Of Your Way to Help in Other Ways
Make your holding page friendly and informative. Offer other ways of getting in touch with you – for example by phone, email or your business premises address. Promise that you will return enquiries within a certain time and follow it through. Customers will understand that you need to take your site down from time to time – they just want reassurance that their enquiry will still be answered.
Keep It Light-Hearted
A little humour goes a long way in situations such as these. A cartoon or a one-liner (as long as it’s good) will make your visitor smile (and also have the added bonus of helping them remember you). Don’t belittle their frustration – it’s important to get the tone just right. Acknowledge their frustration but make a little quip.
Don’t Baffle Visitors with Jargon
You might know every detail of which repairs are being carried out to your site, but your customers won’t care and nor should they be expected to understand complicated jargon. Keep the language on your maintenance page accessible, friendly and clear. Short sentences are good, and don’t waffle on for too long about anything.
Following these steps will help make sure you don’t alienate your customers while you carry out important repairs and updates to your site. Keep them informed along the way and let them know that it is a priority to reinstate it the minute you are able to.