The face of business changed rapidly in the last few months. Companies around the world have had to modify their business models, and their websites needed to reflect those changes. Customers have fears and concerns, so addressing those as quickly as possible reassures them you’re aware of the dangers and requirements in your area.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are as many as 5 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States. As the virus moves in waves around various areas, businesses may find they get the green light to reopen, only to be restricted again. In such uncertain times, your company website can be a beacon of information for your patrons. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind as you update your website to reflect a new business landscape.
Do: Share Your Procedures
If your customers are impacted in some way by the coronavirus, do add a statement to your website. For example, if you run a restaurant, diners will want to know your spacing regulations and cleaning routine. Do they need to wear a mask going in and out or to the bathroom? Does the wait staff wear masks? What precautions are in place for food preparers?
Even e-commerce companies should share how they protect employees and assure products and shipping containers aren’t contaminated. The more reassurance you can offer, the more likely customers will feel secure buying from you.
Cracker Barrel does a nice job with their COVID-19 information. The focus is still on their food with a huge hero image of a meal when you land on their page. The coronavirus procedures information is at the top of the page but is small enough that it doesn’t distract from the other elements. Those who are concerned can click for additional information.
Don’t: Neglect Your Audience
You’ve probably heard the advice over and over to “know your audience.” Having details on your customer base is particularly helpful in a post-COVID world, where half the country fears leaving their homes, and the other half refuses to wear a mask. Dig deep into what your customers want during this time, so your website reflects those desires.
You probably already have your customer demographics in place, so send out some surveys asking for ideas on how to handle business moving forward. What do your customers need to feel safe returning to your store or ordering from you? Keep the lines of communication open and make adjustments as needed.
Do: Indicate If You’re Essential
Some people may be unsure whether you’re open right now. Other companies have reduced hours. If you’re considered an essential service, indicate this on your website, so people know they can still rely on your services. Some business types seen as necessary include grocery stores, convenience stores, medical establishments and so on.
If you’re not sure if you’re essential, check your state and county information. Businesses that remain open when others are closed are usually classified as companies people still need even during a pandemic.
Easy Open Door uses a vivid red bar at the top of the page to draw user attention. They use the lead-in to indicate they are an essential business and are open during COVID-19. If you need your garage door repaired or one installed, they are available. When you click on the “Learn More” call to action (CTA) button, you get the specific reason why the company is necessary and how they’re following CDC guidelines for businesses to keep their customers safe. They also offer a free quote.
Don’t: Be Vague
Don’t just throw up a note saying your business is careful without sharing specifics on how you plan to keep customers and employees safe. If you have a mask policy, share how you’ll enforce it. If you clean the conveyor belt and touch points between each customer, share what cleaning methods you use. The more specific you are, the more assured consumers will be about their safety.
Think through what protects both customers and employees. Simple changes many brick-and-mortar stores have made include putting up plastic sneeze guards, requiring employees to wear masks and adopting enhanced cleaning methods. Lay it all out on your website, so people can check your strategies before coming to your establishment.
Do: Offer Compassion
Passions run high concerning responses to the coronavirus. There is already a lot of controversy surrounding the regulations put in place and how effective or necessary they are. Understand your customers may come from two schools of thought. Some families lost loved ones to the illness. Others no longer have jobs because of the shutdowns. Put yourself in their shoes and then tread carefully with any rules you implement. Explain your reasoning, so even those who disagree are more likely to abide by your requirements.
Best Buy offers details on their policies and ways they’re working to make the process as easy as possible. They realize they have customers of all ages and walks of life. One way they show their concern is by offering dedicated shopping hours for at-risk customers and seniors. Special shopping time allows those who are immune-compromised or at a higher chance of harm from the virus to come when fewer people are in the store.
Don’t: Try to Profit Off a Tragedy
Coronavirus has changed America faster than anything else in our history. People are still reeling from the new world they’re living in. Others have lost loved ones, their health has been damaged or their finances are in ruins. Just because a hashtag is trending doesn’t mean you should jump on it. Avoid raising prices on essential goods unless your costs have gone up.
Let people know you’re working with them to keep costs low during these difficult economic times. No one has a problem with a business they love turning a profit. The issue is when a company tries to profit off other people’s misfortune. Now is the time to show your humanity more than your greed.
Use Common Sense
When making changes to your website, use your best sense. The pandemic will pass, and things will return to normal. Don’t make such drastic changes that you can’t easily reverse them at a later date. Add a separate page for information and link to it from your homepage as the example websites listed above did. Changing your site back then becomes a matter of removing the notation and hiding the COVID page from search engines.
Be compassionate and caring about your customers while offering creative solutions. With a bit of extra effort, your business will come through the pandemic and maintain momentum into the next several years.
Lexie is an IoT enthusiast, an aspiring Olympic curler and a web designer. She enjoys hiking with her goldendoodle and checking out local flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.