Your website is often the first opportunity your business has to capture the attention of a new customer. You have one chance to make an incredible first impression – don’t squander that by overlooking potential problems with your site. There are a few wicked items that give your website’s audience the impression that your site might be desolate and abandoned.
Here are 5 not-so-frightening ways to prevent your website from looking like a ghost town:
This first recommendation is incredibly easy. If you happen to have a copyright year specified on your website – usually in your site’s footer – make sure it’s the current year. There are even ways, by editing your site’s code, to automatically increment the year as soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Years Day every year. We’ve seen too many sites with copyright years that are 5, 6, 7 years old… sometimes even over an entire decade!
This one is a bit of a heavier lift than the previous recommendation above, but it’s just as important. If a blog is a core element of your website, make sure your most recent blog post isn’t from 3 years ago. Website visitors do take notice, and if you haven’t updated your blog in a very long time, or if months and months go by between posts, your site may be giving off some this-website-is-neglected vibes. Maintaining a blog is certainly time-consuming, but blogging is one of the primary ways to provide fresh content to your customers.
Unless your website’s blog has an insane amount of traffic, you might have noticed an occasional tumbleweed passing through your blog comments area. If you have comments enabled, but if no one is participating in the conversation, why have comments turned on in the first place? Instead of giving your website visitors the impression that your blog posts don’t generate engagement, the simplest solution is to disable comments altogether. Taking that approach also eliminates headaches associated with managing spam and other hostile comment submissions.
For most websites, the site’s home page is the most-visited page – often the entry point of new website visitors as well as returning customers. New website visitors might not be aware, but returning customers will begin to take notice if your home page’s content remains exactly the same, visit after visit. Stale and unchanging content on your home page might give website visitors the impression that the site – and maybe even the company itself – has been abandoned. You don’t have to update content and copy literally every day, of course, but giving your site’s home page a fresh coat of paint every once in a while will help keep your website looking fresh.
This recommendation won’t apply to many, but it’s still an important consideration. If you happen to have implemented a discussion forum into your website, you may want to contemplate shutting it down if it doesn’t get much use. In certain situations, forums thrive, but more often than not, website forums look like neglected 19th-century mining towns. In a similar way that a lack of blog comments has a negative effect on how your site and company are viewed, a deserted discussion forum can also do more harm than good. If no one is using your forum, get rid of it!
So get to it and wash away that ghost-town feel of your creepy seemingly-abandoned website. All you need is a fresh coat of paint for some items and calculated implosions for some others. Think about the first impression of a new website visitor and how that incredible experience could turn that individual into a lifelong customer.
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About the author:
Partner, Director of Development
Christopher is the Director of Development and one of the partners at Torx. In addition to keeping Torx's Richmond office firing on all cylinders, he can often be found deep in the trenches, building custom content management systems and WordPress-powered websites. He still remembers how to write Basic computer programs on Apple IIs and Commodore 64s.