I just got back from a week in Vero Beach.  The trip was great but on two occasions we were surprised to find that some places we planned to visit were closed even though we had checked their websites before we left.

In one case we drove over a hour to get to a beach only to find the parking area was closed for repair.  The other instance had to do with hours of operation during winter months.  It turns out the water park we planned to visit is only open on weekends through mid-March.

I can understand the first case because the parking lot was only going to be closed for a couple of days.  The second case is flat out irresponsible.  If there are separate hours of operation based on the season, it is inexcusable not to post this on your website.

This experience reminds me of a question anyone who maintains a website should ask, “What is the purpose of my website?”  If the answer is simply to let people know I exist then you will not get the full benefit of having a presence on the web.  A website represents you to potentially millions of people.  Each of these people may be interested in you, your services, your passions, and your mission.  To invest time and energy creating a site only to neglect it is to miss an opportunity to positively influence your visitors.  In fact, your visitors will develop an opinion of you based on their experience.  Based on my experiences above, I was not impressed.

What does it take to make the most of your website?  A website does not have to be media rich or use fancy graphics to be effective.  All you need to do is put a little thought into the message you want to present.

  • Why are visitors coming to your site?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What do you want them to know?
  • What do you have to offer them?
  • How can you best communicate your message?
  • What media can you use to communicate this message?

Once your site is available you must maintain it.

  • Archive outdated information.
  • Post current information.
  • Keep your visitors informed about developments and events they might be interested in.
  • Turn your focus outward.
  • Over-communicate.  Don’t create a chance that your visitors will misunderstand your message or get incorrect information.