Making Website Downtime Due to Maintenance as Painless as Possible

At some point in time, every singe website has to go down due to maintenance. Whether you’re upgrading an aspect of your site or fixing an existing issue, website maintenance is going to bring your site down while that maintenance is occurring. The length of maintenance downtime will vary from site to site and update to update, but one thing remains consistent – you need to ensure that any downtime your website encounters due to said maintenance is as painless as possible for both you and your visitors. The last thing you want is for your website visitors to arrive at your site and see a 404 page or similar error, wondering if your site is gone for good and if it’s worth the effort to return. Here are some surefire ways to make sure your next round of website maintenance does not turn into a website downtime nightmare.

Create Simple but Meaningful Maintenance Pages

Since you know your site will, at some point, be going down due to maintenance, having your maintenance pages ready beforehand is an absolute must. A maintenance page informs visitors that your site didn’t just disappear somewhere in the Internet abyss. These pages inform your website visitors that the website downtime your site is experiencing is just temporary. Fortunately, maintenance pages don’t need to be overly-complicated. Simply create a page letting users know that your site isn’t available due to maintenance and provide an adequate level of transparency and build the kind of trust that keeps visitors coming back.

Be sure to apologize in addition to informing your visitors of the maintenance downtime. Your maintenance page should also include an apology of some kind. For example, the wording, “We apologize but our site is down for maintenance in order to better serve you in the future,” will serve your website much better than a 404 error. The message is simple, direct, and lets your visitors know that you understand that the website downtime they are experiencing due to your site’s maintenance is an inconvenience to them.

With that being said, you do want to make sure the design (look and feel) of your maintenance pages match that of your website. You don’t want visitors seeing your maintenance page and thinking it’s the page of another company taking over the site because the page looks completely different from your site’s actual design. When creating maintenance pages, be sure to include our logo and keep the same general color scheme as your actual website.

Direct Users to a Social Media Platform

First, if your site doesn’t have a presence on a social media platform, stop what you’re doing right now and and go create some social media accounts immediately. Once you have a social media presence, you can use that presence to communicate with visitors about your site’s maintenance downtime. For example, in addition to explaining that the site is only down temporarily, your maintenance pages can direct visitors to a social media account that will provide status updates (just make sure you actually provide status updates via the platform) regarding your site’s downtime. By incorporating this technique, you will be able to update visitors and communicate with them even though your site is currently down for the count.

Keep Users Updated Using Social Media

An expected downtime of 20 minutes can easily turn into 2 hours if something goes awry. It is crucial that visitors be kept in the loop as to when they can expect your site to be back online. This is where the social media platforms really come into play. Make sure you use the platforms to communicate information regarding how soon your site will be back up and, if there are delays, how long those delays will be and offer a general reason as to why the delays are occurring. For example, if your site’s maintenance resulted in some type of error that extended the amount of downtime you were experiencing, you could use social media to inform visitors exactly what has happened and exactly what progress is being made to fix the issue in addition to providing information as to when visitors can expect the site to be back up.

Provide Users the Option of Being Notified When Your Site is Back Up

Not all visitors are going to want to take the time to keep tabs on your social media communications. Because of this, it’s essential to allow these visitors to “opt in” to receive email notifications informing them of when your site is back up and running. Not only does this help keep visitors in the loop regarding the status of your site’s downtime, but it can also grow your website’s email list if you word the opt-in language properly.

Offer a Promotion or Discount

If you want to increase sales immediately after downtime that occurs due to website maintenance, offer a discount code or other promotion to your visitors that will allow them to feel as though you’ve taken their inconvenience seriously while, at the same time, helping you make up for some of the sales that were lost due to the maintenance-related website downtime. Because maintenance-related website downtime is a foreseeable event (unlike most other types of downtime), you can plan this promotion well in advance and roll it out as soon as your site is back up and running.

Less Painful for You, Les Painful for Visitors

By incorporating the above techniques, when your website goes down due to scheduled maintenance and upgrades the process becomes much less painful for your business and for your visitors. No one likes being left in the dark and transparency is key to gaining consumer trust. The above methods ensure that not only do you remain transparent during downtime caused by maintenance, but you are also proactive in communicating with your site’s customers to keep them in the loop and informed as to when your site will be back up.