Few things are as important to a small business as it’s website. Your website is the place you can educate your audience, generate leads and sales, reinforce your market position and brand. So what happens when it goes down?
It happens to the best of us and if you’re not prepared, you’ll be left out of luck and with missed opportunities. So let’s look at four things you can do if your website goes down.
#1. STICK TO THE PLAN
Take an hour or so sometime this month to work with your team to develop a playbook for what to do when things go wrong. Starting with confirming your site is actually down and that your domain name registration is up to date.
The playbook should consist of a list of who to call when you discover a problem (webmaster, hosting company, IT), current passwords, and a communication to send out in the event your website goes down.
Finally, plan to identify any recent changes to your website so you can start testing the problem there first.
#2. UNDERSTAND THE DATA
If your site does go down, it’s important to understand the root causes of the issue leading to the error(s). This can be incredibly difficult because modern websites, especially e-commerce sites, have hundreds and thousands of dependencies that are linked together, making root cause difficult to discover.
Task your IT team with understanding the relationship between application components and external factors now, before the site is down, and consider installing tools that will automatically notify you that an error event is occurring while simultaneously analyzing dependencies to identify root causes.
#3. USE REDUNDANCIES
Prevention is the best medicine, so if you’re concerned about your website going down or getting hacked, consider using one company for your domain name registration (DNS) and another for hosting. This way, you can redirect website traffic to an alternate website or placeholder while you work the problem, rather than being completely offline.
You can also find a hosting company that will offer a backup website, a stripped down version of your original site where traffic will be automatically directed. It’s a little extra work now, but a big relief when you’re scrambling to get your website back online.
#4. REDIRECT TRAFFIC
Keep a list of all digital advertising and marketing activities that link back to your site, including automated marketing emails so you can turn them off or delay them from posting while you fix the problem. Directing traffic back to a dead website is throwing money away and will only hurt your relationships with your target customers.
If you have a placeholder website, consider sending them there, if appropriate, or just postponing them until the problem is fixed and you’re back online. Of course if you have a backup website, you just need to remember to redirect traffic back to your full-functioning site when it’s back online.
You likely have website issues all the time, but none as bad when your site goes down completely. Planning a little now will help you go a long way when it happens.