What to do if you hate your website

Computer monitor showing a sign that says, "Caution: This website is under construction. Please check back soon."

That website you hate is doing your visitors no good. What can you do until you replace it? Image by Inventlayout.com.

I talked to a small town Chamber of Commerce director. She told me how much she hated their current website. She was eager to get a new one, but replacing it would involve a committee, and bids, and approvals, and a long and expensive process.

You don’t have to be a Chamber of Commerce to find yourself in this situation. Plenty of other rural community organizations and even businesses are in the same crappy-website boat.

What can you do if you’re in a similar situation?

Stop Promoting the Website You Hate

  • Start taking the address off of everything you produce. Yes, I’m serious. If you hate it, you know your visitors don’t like it, either. Stop torturing them with it.
  • Replace the old address with the address for one of these temporary alternatives.*

Bonus: You can stop apologizing for the website you hate.

Create an instant alternative website. 

  • Create a simple social profile. Use a Facebook Page or a Twitter account. Only do this if you are able to update them yourself and will do so at least twice every week.
  • Provide an online version of your email newsletter. Many Chambers already do an excellent email newsletter that could be turned into a replacement website in two steps:
    1. Start a Blogger or Tumblr blog.
    2. Find the “post by email” email address and add it to your list of email subscribers.
    Now every email you send from then on will be automatically added to that blog.

Bonus: all of these alternatives are automatically mobile-friendly, meaning your visitors can actually use them from their smart phones.

Only include what people really want to know on your site.

They’re already telling you what they want to know by calling, emailing or walking in to find out. Keep track of those questions. When you answer them, turn around and re-use the answer.

  • Post the answer immediately on your social network profile.
  • Add it to the next email newsletter in the new section you’re going to call “This Week’s Top Questions.”
  • Post it on your website in the Blog or News section.

Bonus: You’ll spend less time answering questions because more people will find the answers they need on their own.

Remember the one most important feature for your new website. 

Focus on finding a system you can and will keep updated. That is the only thing that matters.

 

Technical Note:

*If you have the ability to redirect your URL, you can point your old website address to the alternative site you create. Your domain registrar should have instructions for how to do that.

What advice would you add for those who are stuck with a website they hate?

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Comments

  1. says

    Wonderful post, Becky. I live in a smallish town and, while some local businesses and organizations do a great job with limited resources, others are in the “crappy website” boat you mention. If they’re doing great despite their website then I suppose there’s no harm. But I wonder if, unlike your Chamber director, most of them really don’t know that their sites aren’t helping their business or customers, or that they could or should do something about it. I have shared this post on my Facebook page…maybe some of them will listen!

    I’d like to suggest one more option for small businesses and “solopreneurs.” And actually, it may serve a Chamber of Commerce well depending upon their situation. You didn’t directly mention WordPress.com, but it offers many of the benefits of other strategies you mention – and your content from a WordPress.com site can very easily be used in a more feature-packed site later on, if you choose.

    WordPress.com is free and fairly easy. If you pay for some upgrades your site can look more professional and you may not even want to switch for a while – or ever – depending upon your needs. For $30 a year you can use a domain you own instead of yourdomain.wordpress.com. If you ever need to add features such as e-commerce, event registration, etc., all of your posts, pages and pictures can be quickly and easily exported, then imported into a site that uses the WordPress software with a regular web hosting account (where you can install things that aren’t available on WordPress.com).

    I’d like to encourage those in the “crappy website” boat who have no budget to work with to first plan their site’s content organization, then head over to WordPress.com and set up a site with a page for each category of information. You can copy and paste the relevant parts from your existing site. You don’t have to advertise what you’re doing, so it can just be a planning tool if you like. But if you have a bad website and are someone with more of a say-so in your business or organization, there’s no reason you can’t do better for very little money – maybe none – and do it in short order.

    • says

      Thanks, Teresa, for adding your encouragement. WordPress.com is another good option. Your tip of starting a new blog as a planning tool is excellent. No matter what setup is chosen for the new website, you’ll be giving yourself a headstart on creating a better future version.

    • says

      Steven, thanks for joining the discussion. I changed my blog address from its original blogspot to this .com address a long time ago. It was tough to lose my Technorati ranking (back when that mattered). But it was the right decision, and meant I could move to any other provider at any time I decided to without taking the same hit again.

      These days, I worry most about the people who read, and less about search engines. I figure the rankings will come around eventually, as long as we keep doing a great job serving people here.

  2. says

    This article has great tips and they are practical too – thanks Becky. I think it’s great that with the simple free tools that are out there, people can now take ownership of their digital content.

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