By Joe Weigel.
Websites are living communications channels that change and evolve along with the funeral service companies for which they serve as an online presence. However, there’s a difference between websites that are in a continual state of change and sites that appear to be incomplete.
In fact, your website should be in a perpetual state of change. One of the biggest advantages of websites is that you have the ability to update them constantly. As your business adds new products or services, as your customers’ needs change, or as the surrounding world creates new opportunities and information, you should adapt your messages to make the most of the change.
Having a site that’s out-of-date or incomplete sends an inherent message that you’re not able to keep up with change, or that you’re struggling to provide information that customers want to see. Neither of those creates the impression you want to convey.
You probably wouldn’t allow an important prospective customer to tour your facility when it looked like that, because you’d be concerned about putting your best foot forward. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t allow that same prospect to visit your website if substantial parts of it are missing or the site is dated. After all, it means you’re not putting your best foot forward.
What often happens is that a company begins with an ambitious plan for its new website. The marketing team creates the basic architecture and designates the individual pages that will make up each section. The next task is populating those pages with copy, images, or other items. Unfortunately, the people assigned to that task already have full plates, so the extra job of preparing material for the website falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Alternatively, the others in the company who need to supply that information don’t regard it as a high priority.
The result is pages that end up saying nothing except “Coming soon,” or that clip-art drawing of highway barricades accompanied by messages like “page under construction.” Neither of those “solutions” to missing content is a good idea. Your navigation promised visitors that the page existed, and you’ve just let them down.
Other common signs of incompletion are copy that references information that will follow when the information isn’t there, or content that includes a long-ago date — such as “Our 2013 product line” when my calendar suggests we’re currently in 2016.
Does that mean you should delay the launch of your new website until every single bit of information is in place? Not at all. Instead of posting those “coming soon” or “under construction” pages, leave the pages off your navigation. Don’t make them visible to visitors. They won’t notice their absence, because they have no way of realizing that you plan to include them. As your team completes work on each of those pages, your web team can bring them to life. Your site will grow more complete as each is added. Meanwhile, you’re not disappointing site users by dangling directions to content that doesn’t exist.
Keep what’s incomplete out of sight, and customers and prospects will never know that you’ve missed your deadline or failed to devote the time needed to fill in all the blanks. Instead of calling attention to things that make it appear that you don’t have your act together, you’ll be able to present an impression of confidence and authority.
Joe Weigel is the owner of Weigel Strategic Marketing, a communications firm focused on the funeral profession that delivers expertise and results across three interrelated marketing disciplines: strategy, branding, and communications. You can visit his website at weigelstrategicmarketing.webs.com. He also can be reached at 317-608-8914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.