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7 Warning Signs That Your Website is Turning Into a Ghost Town

Keeping your organizational website updated with fresh, new content can leave the responsible parties feeling a little like Sisyphus.

You know, the Greek myth where this poor chap is doomed to roll an immense bolder up a hill, only to have it tumble back down the second he's finished!

Yeah. Kind of like that. (I can hear the AMEN! chorus even as I type this. I know you've been there before!)

If you've succumbed to the challenge of keeping your website up-to-date, chances are high that it's become an online ghost town. A ghost town is place where no one wants to go. It's been deserted, abandoned, and left for the riff-raff and rodents to do with it what they please.

Cue tumbleweeds...

Seven Ghost Town Warning Signs

If you're wondering where your organization stands, here are seven warning signs that your website has turned into a ghost town:

1. Contact requests are never returned. If you have contact information listed on your site (you should), it is a realistic expectation to receive correspondence from people. If they contact you and you don't respond, this sends a message. If someone takes the time to contact your organization, you need to have a process for responding to those folks. Anything else is ghost town behavior.

2. There is an "Under Construction" notice posted anywhere. On any page. You've seen these. So have I. The "under construction" notice with an animated gif of a builder or dump truck or some other nonsensical character. If your site has a page with this anywhere on it, take it down immediately. It sends a message that says, "we're too lazy to figure this out." Unpublish the page if you must. Just don't let your construction show.

3. There is a stat counter in the footer of the site. Need I say more?

4. Information is old/outdated. This is the most obvious indicators of a ghost town. If your site features a timestamp (most do), people are able to tell when the last update was. Nothing says, "we don't care" like three-, six-, sometimes 12-month lapses between updates. 

5. Grammatical/spelling errors. Similar to #4, if your site is filled with rampant grammatical errors it shows you don't care. If you have a site and there's a spelling or grammatical flub, someone has probably told you. The Grammar Police are real and they're everywhere. If you can't take the time to read your copy, it shows you don't care. This, like the others, sends a message.

7. There are people listed on the staff page who no longer work for the organization. I think this might be the biggest indicator your organization's website is a ghost town. I worked for a place that had my picture up for months after I left. Clearly folks within the organization knew I had left but my picture, mysteriously, remained. It's not just me, either. I visit dozens of websites a day and nothing is quite as glaring as having people who no longer work for the organization listed as staff. If you can't keep your staff current, what message does this send about the rest of the organization? Websites that aren't consistently scanned and updated very quickly fall into the ghost town trap.

So how did you fare? Is your organization's website a thriving metropolis or desolate ghost town? Let us know in the comments below!

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