Your website is the central hub of all your marketing initiatives and the go-to informational source for your customers. So when your website malfunctions, is hacked, or goes down completely, it’s an understandably stressful situation.
As a website design and development partner for many businesses, we are sometimes contacted when website problems are identified. While our team would love to save the day, these issues typically stem from domain, host or server locations. To alleviate your anxiety, we’ve put together a checklist to help you quickly diagnose the problem, its magnitude and who best to contact for corrective action.
Try not to panic when you are alerted to issues with your website. Your first step should be determining if the malfunction is isolated to internal company computers, or it’s a more extensive, external problem.
IsItDownRightNow instantly tells you if your website is down and for how long. If this tool reports your site is functioning, then perhaps the problem is an internal or web browser error. Knowing that your website is still visible and operating correctly for your customers will hopefully ease your concerns. Note, IsItDownRightNow can be used on any website, not just yours.
If IsItDownRightNow says your website is indeed working, do a quick poll of colleagues around you in the office to see if they are experiencing the same issues. You can then alert your IT department to the problem for further troubleshooting. We suggest documenting in detail the problem you, and potentially others, are experiencing with the website.
For instance, calling your IT department and saying the website is down gives them significantly less to go on than explaining you are getting a 404 error message while accessing an industry served page on a Chrome browser.
Grabbing a screenshot of the error may be helpful as well. Additionally, pulling up the website on a different web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, etc.) to see if the problem is occurring there. The more information the IT department knows upfront, the faster they can work to find a resolution.
If you find your website is down, your hosting company is your next call. You can also check their website to see if it’s active. Some hosting companies post to their social media sites when outages occur. Ask your hosting company the following questions:
1. Do you know what type of problem is occurring with my website?
2. How are you solving the issue?
3. What is the estimated downtime?
4. How will I get updates if any of the above changes?
Once you have a better idea of what is happening with your website, it’s time to determine how to proceed. Communicating with your customers will be a high priority if your website is down for an extended period. Turning to social media to apologize to your customers may be a viable solution. Providing information on social media shows customers they still have a way to digitally connect with you. However, understand that not everyone will be checking online so there are still people you want to reach out to directly.
When communicating your site is down, think about what matters to your customers, suppliers and partners. Does your website house sensitive customer data? Are people frequently accessing order status information? Keep your customers informed on a timely basis to minimize their worry and inconvenience.
All websites will likely experience downtime or functionality glitches at some point, but there are ways to alleviate some issues:
- Use a Content Distribution Network: allows you to store and deliver cached content from your site.
- Secondary Hosting: If your primary hosting company has an issue, your secondary option can pick up the slack. One in a different geographic location would also help with weather-related outages.
- DNS Management: When a website goes offline, traffic will automatically be routed to your secondary host.
- Buy a Monitoring Service: You will get notified if your website goes down within minutes.
You now have a plan, the tools and contacts when facing website downtime. At Proximity Marketing, we help businesses with other types of website problems – like outdated designs and poor traffic. If you face these same challenges, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today!