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I'm making a company's web site. How do I tell people that the site is closed outside of business hours? I have visited a lot of sites but I don't think any of them really close so I'm not sure how best to do this.

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    What does it mean that the "site is closed"? How can a site be closed? – dennislees Dec 22 '15 at 2:40
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    You don't, as that'd be silly. Why would a web site need to "close"? – DA01 Dec 22 '15 at 3:11
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    @Mayo that's silly! :) – DA01 Dec 22 '15 at 4:24
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    @Mayo is the web server also Jewish? :) – DA01 Dec 22 '15 at 16:15
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    @guest, can you provide us with some context here? Why doesn't your boss want the site to be open during non-brick-and-mortar hours? – DA01 Dec 22 '15 at 17:45
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There appears to be a gap between what the CEO believes the website should do vs what users expect a website to do out of normal trading hours.

If competitor websites offer 24/7 eCommerce, then you will likely lose traffic and business to those simply because it seems that this company doesn't want to trade.

I would expect an eCommerce site to be available at all times (except during planned maintenance outages). At this point, I would either expect one of two things:

  1. Orders cannot be placed in the first place, or;
  2. Orders are placed but are held until they can be processed.

The first option will frustrate the customer base and send them to a competitor to complete their purchase (especially if it is an easily-available item). The second option needs to be made clear to Customers in the event an order cannot be processed to explain a time-delay in acknowledging their request.

Reading from the comments above, I think everyone recommends keeping all sections of the site available out of hours. What happens if you have users from another geographic region that need to make orders when the website is closed? Is there some sort of specific business requirement to do this? I think it would be worthwhile understanding this requirements from the CEO and their expectations of how an eCommerce site should behave?

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Reading between the lines

It sounds to me like Big Boss Man wants something more specific than what is described. At least I hope so for his sake.

During [these hours], all orders placed will be held in a queue until Monday (when we return to the office). Calls and web chats will also be answered Monday morning. Our employees' work/life balance is very important to us. We hope this doesn't cause any inconvenience and thank you for understanding.

Something like that?

I'm just trying to capture the spirit of your message. I wouldn't take over the main landing page, though a full letter could be available in an appropriate position. Place pertinent explanations about order, customer service, and other schedule considerations at the point where it will be useful to the user.

In all other respects, your site should not close. Users expect that you won't shut your servers down on Friday afternoon. If you do, they are likely to take their business elsewhere. That's the nature of the web.

When servers go bad

There are times when the servers really do go down. For those cases, you should have strategies in place for caching, disaster recovery, and 'site down' fall backs.

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A website is a portal for information about your business, at the minimum, if not for ecommerce. If you are doing any business using the website, then it should NEVER close. If website is only for information sake, then also it should not close.

Consider this - a restaurant's website is visited by people to check on the menu, address etc. How absurd would it be to find a page saying, "Please come back tomorrow at 11 AM to check on the menu, our website is closed". Even if its after hours. Why would a business close its website - is perplexing. You either did not get the requirement correctly , there is misunderstanding or the powers to be in your company are unbelievably clueless in this day and age.

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In addition to what Chimeara has suggested you should also put a Javascript based visual cue (icon or text) to let users know whether the business is open or closed at the time of viewing.

I think that Facebook does this very nicely for businesses with their colored text:

enter image description here

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    But I don't want them to be able to use the site at all when it's closed. – guest Dec 22 '15 at 13:48
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Are you sure you really want to close the site for the time the brick-and-mortar shop is closed? Because people will come and expect the site working at all times, even if it's 2 am and (obviously) the actual shop is closed. That's why no other sites are doing that — users not only come to buy right away, they check what is available and the prices, they compare and generally are going through the process of making the decision. If you shut down the site for some hours, this will cut off the shop's potential customers.

You could check them out as usual, simply accumulating the orders until the shop opens and someone checks them. Just notify people on placing the order when the order-check/shipping will happen, make sure they receive this information before they pay for the purchase.

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  • I'm sure I want it to close, the CEO personally told me it has to close – guest Dec 22 '15 at 14:05
  • And you agree with his reasoning or you are not in the position to deliver a better solution? – Zoe K Dec 22 '15 at 14:37
  • I just have to do what he says – guest Dec 22 '15 at 14:56
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    Then you could shut down the site automatically for the closed time and put a "sorry, we are closed" page, similar to illustrated error pages creativebloq.com/web-design/best-404-pages-812505. I suggest you also put the operation hours there. – Zoe K Dec 22 '15 at 15:47
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    @guest then it's ultimately not a UX question, but a 'what the boss wants' solution. – DA01 Dec 22 '15 at 17:44
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As everyone else said, this is a weird request that is going to do nothing but confuse users. Websites provide lots of information, even if e-commerce is disabled.

You say the boss wants you close the site, so you're closing the site. You'll need to show some information that explains that the site is closed because the boss wants it to be closed, and show the hours when it's open. (Make sure to provide your time zone.) Users need to know this so they don't think this weird "closed" page is the normal state of the site.

And maybe provide some helpful links to your competitors. (Just kidding. (Or am I?))

Good luck.

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Can you give us more details on WHY the site should be closed? If someone is at work all day what if they want to check something on your site when they get home? If I found a site that said we are closed and not because of maintenance or the site went down for some technical problem I wouldn't waste my time going back.

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As other's mentioned don't say the site is closed. You can use java-script/server-side to hide the relevant things that can close based on time/date (e.g. phone numbers), but I don't recommend this. just add some copy stating the business hours and expected response times.

eg.

Phone: 1800 1392 8049 Mon-Fri 8am-5pm excluding public holidays

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  • Javascript is client-side (browser), not server side. – Jon Dec 22 '15 at 8:31
  • @Frankie: I presume what was meant was to use client-side JS to retrieve the information whether the "site is closed" from the server and hide some page elements. – O. R. Mapper Dec 22 '15 at 9:18

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