5 Tips to Make Your Web Site Say: "Open For Business"

July 2, 2010 | Website Design and Redesign

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As we head into the three-day weekend, many of us are focused on taking some time off from work. I know our office will be closed on Monday and it will be a pleasure to enjoy a scheduled day off.

Your web site, however, will not be taking time off. And in fact has been out there promoting or detracting from your business’ image from the day it launched.

A bricks and mortar comparison

A couple of times a week I walk by the Portland Chamber of Commerce office, and it always gives off a very “closed” and impenetrable vibe to it. As I walked by it the other day, I realized why.

Portland, Maine Chamber of Commerce Office with their always closed blinds.
Portland, Maine Chamber of Commerce Office with their always closed blinds.

I realized that in the nearly five years I’ve lived in Portland, Maine, those blinds on their windows have never been opened. Yes, you can go around the corner and find a door and see they are open, but the side of their building facing the busy street is always shuttered behind blinds.

It made me wonder why. Probably it has something to do with the glare and the computers. But why not at least take some of the window space and figure out a way to make it look open and inviting? Show us that someone in there is working for its members.

Does your web site show a vibrant business?

For many of us, a peek at our web site will be the first impression, rather than your office. Obviously securing your companies domain name and having a web site presence is the most basic first step. Having a web site that is live and functioning is like being open for business. But it is more subtle things (like the blinds on the windows) that show whether you are really a thriving and active business.

  1. Keep generating high-quality content. The best way to look alive and to attract people to your site is to develop content they want to read, share, and come back for more. Have a system for writing, posting and sharing this information. A blog is the primary vehicle for this, but an article library, case studies or recent work sections can also be a vehicle for posting new content.
  2. Keep your “news” section up-t0-date. If you’ve built a “news” section on your web site, make sure you update it regularly. When the economy was rolling it was easy to boast about new hires and contracts won. With this recession, it can be hard to find good news to share. But that is exactly why people are so curious. They want to see that you survived and hopefully even gained in this tough environment.
  3. Keep your directories, locations, hours, and specials up-to-date. Retail businesses need to make sure that their current hours and specials are listed and out-of-date information has been removed. For other businesses, the employee directory and biography area may need attention. If someone who knows your organization sees incorrect and out of date listings, it makes them question the validity of the whole site and possibly your company in general.
  4. Clean out the abandoned sections. You tried a blog and couldn’t keep it up. Or, you’re featuring an inactive Twitter feed on your home page. Or, you no longer do business in an area that is listed on your site. These graveyards and junkyards of old, unwanted content just reflect poorly on you. Get rid of them. It’s better to have less content, but ensure it’s accurate and fresh.
  5. Check your copyright date. This is a quick way I use to tell if someone is paying attention to their site. If a business is actively updating their site, this won’t get overlooked for long. Or, you can use some coede to help you keep it up-to-date.

There are numerous ways the content and look of your site are presenting an image of your business as either alive and thriving, or stale and stagnant. Web site first impressions are hard to overcome: make it a good one.

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