Vacation Planning for Your Site

Do you own a business, or does it own you?

Consider this: When was the last time you had a real vacation? Not the one day you took off for your niece’s graduation six years ago, but a whole week (or more) away?  Studies show that taking a break from work has measurable health and productivity benefits. If you can’t remember your last vacation (possibly because you’ve never taken one), it’s probably time to work one into your schedule. Whether you take off during the traditional summer months, or some other time (it’s probably best during your slower business periods), a nice break from it all can do you good.

Your website, however, should never take a vacation. It’s probably your main lifeline between you and your customers, and if it goes stale, they will go elsewhere. So how do you make sure your website is ready to go unsupervised while you are on R&R?

Make Sure the Content Will Keep

Time-sensitive content, such as announcements of events or limited-time promotions, should be minimized or eliminated. A banner ad trumpeting your Fourth of July specials should not still be visible on July 16. If you aren’t going to have anyone manage your site while you’re gone, consider coordinating these events with your vacation to avoid stale site content.

Suspending Operations? Say So

If you are closing up shop for the duration of your vacation, you should make it clear to your visitors so they are not frustrated by a lack of response from you. Put an announcement on your home page, and activate your email account’s “out of office” auto-reply. If your site sends automatic acknowledgements when users submit forms, make sure the acknowledgement indicates that you are out and when users can expect a personal response. Just make sure to undo these things when you get back.

Have a Backup Contact

If you aren’t going to hand over your operations to someone else in your absence, you should at least have a backup contact. Just as you would have someone come by your house to water your plants and get your mail, you should have a trusted backup contact to check your site from time to time to ensure it is still up and running. Arrange with your service providers to authorize this person to contact them on your behalf if you are going to be out of reach. If your site goes down, gets hacked, or has other difficulties, this person should be able to call right away to set things right. (While you’re at it, this would be a good time to review your providers’ service level agreements).

No Backup Contact? Make Sure You Can Be Reached

If you aren’t going to have a backup contact or don’t feel comfortable giving someone else the authority to act on your behalf, make sure you can be reached by some means, whether by cellphone, email, or some other channel. Even if you check your email only once every day or two, someone should be able to contact you in an emergency. It’s arguably just as important for your website as it is for your home or your brick-and-mortar business.

Relax!

As a business owner, you have a thousand details to attend to when preparing for a vacation—not just about your website, but everything else related to your business. It requires a good deal of advance planning, but coming back refreshed and rejuvenated will make it all worthwhile. If you follow these steps, you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Just remember: You’re supposed to be on vacation – turn your phone off (most of the time) and enjoy yourself.