Is your website still out there…or has it flown the coop?

When was the last time you went out to your website and just made sure it was …there?

Don’t laugh; you’d be surprised to know the number of folks who simply assume a website is a set-it-and-forget-it thing, and rarely even peek at it.

You may be equally surprised to learn how many perfect strangers will find your site on the web, will note that it is either completely blank or there’s a giant problem that makes it unusable, and will sigh and click off. Few will actually take the time to report this to you, even if they could see an easy way to do so. So a problem can persist silently for days, weeks, or months, your site broken or invisible, while potentially perfect clients come a-calling and are lost to you.

This is a particularly touchy issue right now. Here’s why:

There are a lot of changes afoot in the website world in terms of updates and spiffing-up of the programming behind our sites. A lot of those updates are being done by website hosting companies—the place where your website “lives.” Usually that’s a good thing (they are great at that stuff) but lately I’ve been seeing these actions take place without properly notifying you that something potentially disruptive is about to happen.

Example: Several clients recently wrote to me in a panic when they learned — through the kindness of strangers — that their home page had dissolved into a mass of programming code. This coincided with web hosts updating a system (“PHP”) to the newest, securest, most fantabulous version…without notice. It just took a few minutes of updating and tweaking to bring it all back to normal, but up to that point, the public was seeing something very messy and unprofessional.

So…would you do me a bite-sized favor?

(and no, it has nothing to do with chocolate this time)

Go to your Google Calendar, iCal, to-do list…whatever you use to schedule important dates & events.
Create an appointment…call it “Website TLC” and make it a quick 15-minute “date” with yourself.
Try to get it onto your calendar in the next few days if possible.
When that appointment time comes, cruise on out to your main web address(es) and have a look-see.

The idea is to pop out and look at your website as a visitor might. Have a quick flip through the pages, make sure they’re seeing what you want them to see. Make sure (in particular) your site’s menu, slideshows, big images, contact forms, and any sort of sales/payment mechanisms are behaving themselves.

If you’re able, set up that calendar date with yourself so it recurs, becoming a (minimum) monthly reminder that pops up. Your website is a dynamic creature, and even if you haven’t been keeping it updated with new stuff regularly – something that has great benefits for your visibility – it deserves at least a check-in to make sure it’s happy and healthy.

If you see anything out of whack, talk to your usual web person or drop me a note.

Thanks. I feel better now. And I think you will too.

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