20 ways to update your website when reopening after COVID-19

9 min read
Judith Kallos

It's happening! States and municipalities are starting to open up for business again. Now it's time to update your website with the information necessary to facilitate a successful reopening in the wake of COVID-19.

This is the perfect time to update your website with messaging that shows how you're meeting guidelines in order to reopen.

Because your customers will be looking to you to guide them, we want to make sure that you have all the bases covered.

Related: 5-point checklist to reopen your business

20 website updates to consider before reopening after COVID-19

Initially, things will be in flux as everyone gets used to the new environment and way of doing things. That's to be expected and why planning in advance is crucial. Here are some tips for communicating important updates on your website:

  1. Create a reopening page.
  2. Create a reopening FAQ.
  3. Create a welcome back video.
  4. Set up your homepage.
  5. Revisit navigation and widgets.
  6. Remove irrelevant information.
  7. Feature any substantial changes.
  8. Review returns and refund information.
  9. Offer downloadable tip sheets.
  10. Check your thank you pages.
  11. Freshen your look.
  12. Update your blog.
  13. Set up a new blog.
  14. Create your newsletter blast.
  15. Review your automated responses and order emails.
  16. Feature in-demand products.
  17. Update your calls-to-action (CTAs).
  18. Update your social pages.
  19. Create checklists for your staff.
  20. Keep your backups. 

I know you are excited to get back to business so let’s cover each of these tips one by one.

1. Create a reopening page

This page will include the date of your reopening along with your hours of operation. You'll also want to detail any new rules or policies that will be in place.

Review your local requirements and address them point by point. Include how you are embracing any requirements as well as links to provincial websites for your website visitors to refer to.

2. Create a reopening FAQ

This frequently asked questions (FAQ) page should include information that reflects what you have put in place to keep customers safe. Questions to address might include:

  • What is the new routine? Will face masks be required?
  • Do customers bring their own face masks or will you provide them?
  • Should customers wait in their car before entering your establishment?
  • How much in advance should they arrive?
  • Will someone come out and greet them? How exactly will this work?
  • Do they call or text you and let you know they have arrived? If so, include your phone number in that FAQ.
  • How much of a backlog or waiting time do you anticipate?

Be as accurate and as upfront as possible to set appropriate expectations. Update your FAQ page promptly and accordingly if changes to your business operations evolve after COVID-19 reopening.

3. Create a welcome back video

Nothing connects better than having a personal video from you thanking customers for their support and reflecting your excitement about opening your doors again. You can also discuss the basics of any new policies and procedures that have been mandated.

Post this video at various places on your website (Home, About, Contact). Also post to your social media accounts.

4. Set up your homepage

The first thing you want visitors to see on your homepage is your opening announcement. This is the “hero” area which is above the fold and displays without having to scroll. Display your opening date with a link for more details.

5. Revisit navigation and widgets

Add links to these new pages in your site navigation and both header and footer menus. Showcase them in your homepage widget areas and internal sidebars.

6. Remove irrelevant information

For example, if you are discontinuing online orders entirely, update your website to remove any order pages. If you are no longer going to sell online, be clear about how customers can order your products (phone or in-person). Include this information in your reopening FAQ.

7. Feature any substantial changes

If you offered curbside service when your business was closed during COVID-19, and you won’t be continuing this service after reopening, let customers know. Conversely, if you’d prefer that customers continue to use online orders rather than coming in, be clear about that.

You want to be detailed and reinforce how you will be doing business after you reopen. Don't leave any gray areas.

8. Review returns and refund information

Highlight any changes in your return policies. Reshape your return policies as necessary to build trust and confidence in your new operating procedures.

Related: Returns and refunds policy templates for online shopping sites

9. Offer downloadable tip sheets

Offer a downloadable PDF that reflects your enhanced cleaning protocols, how you’re enforcing social distancing, along with what customers need to do. Customers can download to their devices and have the information on hand to refer to as needed.

10. Check your thank you pages

If you modified your thank you pages due to the shutdown with messages like “thank you for your patience during this difficult time,” now is the time to perk those up to match the current environment. For example: “Thank you! We will be in touch promptly and look forward to seeing you!”

11. Freshen your look

New day, new opening, new photos. Use this opportunity to give your website an updated and fresh look by taking new photos of your storefront, place of business and your staff. Happy smiling faces are inviting and will reflect your enthusiasm to get back to business.

12. Update your blog

Go through your blog posts and look for any outdated content that you don't want to be taken out of context. For any shutdown related posts, add a comment at the top of the post stating you are reopening with links to the new pages with current procedures.

You don't want visitors landing on old blog posts and misinterpreting them as current information when it comes to COVID-19. Plus, you'll have these pages ready to go if, unfortunately, another shutdown becomes necessary.

13. Set up a new blog

If you don't have a blog, consider adding one now. A blog is a great way to share real-time updates and help personalize your interactions, via comments, with site visitors as the transition continues.

Include a sign-up feature that users can subscribe to so they get updates of new posts delivered to their inbox.

Plan on updating your website with a status post a couple days after reopening in the wake of COVID-19 — no later than a week in — so customers know how things are going and what to expect. Be upfront and honest about any challenges and how you addressed them. Your customers will appreciate this level of honesty.

Related: How to set up a WordPress blog

14. Create your newsletter blast

Get a newsletter blast ready to go to your website mailing list about your reopening. Again, note dates and hours, including a link to your new pages that contain additional details.

Editor’s note: Start sending great-looking, mobile-friendly emails in minutes with GoDaddy Email Marketing.

15. Review your automated responses and order emails

Tailor any automated website emails to note your current status with links to your new pages for more info and details.

16. Feature in-demand products

Depending on your business, there will be products or services that might be more in demand than others. Look at your pre-shutdown analytics combined with the items you know will be in high demand and plan in advance as much as possible.

17. Update your calls-to-action (CTAs)

This is a perfect opportunity to focus on the promotions for products and services that will be most popular now that you are open for business. Learn how to create an effective call to action here.

18. Update your social pages

Be sure to get your new hours and information out there. Update your Google My Business page. Create a new pinned post with one of those new images for all your social media pages. Then update as needed to keep customers in the loop.

19. Create checklists for your staff

This will be something your employees can have on hand to make sure they are following all the necessary guidelines as noted on your website. Make clear what you expect and what is required from them every step of the way.

20. Keep your backups

The reality is you might have to temporarily transition your business back to being closed as the pandemic progresses. It’s possible that closing and reopening might happen a few times.

Save any pages, order forms or text/content that have been working well during COVID-19 shutdowns to avoid having to redo all of the work you created.

This will allow you to shift on the fly in the case of having to convert back to a closed state, rather than scrambling to recreate all that collateral to get your website back to how it was.

Related: Backups — why and how to start right now

Tips for a successful reopening

The key to a successful reopening is having all your processes and procedures mapped out, in writing and available for you, your staff and your loyal customers to refer to. To wrap things up:

  • Go through your website content to make sure all information is current.
  • Create new content as needed to keep customers informed of your ongoing status.
  • Use your blog, newsletter and social media pages to post updates and links to your new website information as things evolve.
  • Offer downloadable tip sheets that customers (and staff) can have with them for reference.
  • Keep backups of any content you remove in case it needs to be reinstated in the future.

There will be speed bumps along the way. But no worries. Just go with the flow, evolve and react as necessary while communicating to all who will be impacted. Your staff and customers will be impressed with your flexibility and conscientiousness and that helps to build trust and future business opportunities!