A little while back I referred a friend of mine to a web developer who I thought could help her with a new website. A few days later my friend dropped me a line to say she has been trying to get in touch with the developer through his "contact form" on the website but it didn't appear to be working. I checked it out and she was right, you fill in the form, press send and it simply kept timing out.
Now how ridiculously common is this - we want to give someone our money, yet their website fails them? A little embarrassing if you happen to be a web developer I might add. But the real message here is that things go wrong on websites all the time. And when you speak to your developer they never really seem to know why, they just give you a generic "things go wrong all the time" kind of answer, which seems remarkably "untechish" in our tech rich world.
My advice is very simple, ensure that your website is working. Make it someone's job to go to the site, at least once a week (ideally every morning) and test the "contact form" and any other important links to make sure they are all working.
I've certainly had times when I suddenly thought that I wasn't getting as many inquiries from my website as usual, then when I've checked it out, there has been a problem with the site. How many missed opportunities did this cost me? How many possible websites has the developer lost because their site was faulty?
We are really lucky if someone alerts us to a problem like that, but generally it will be up to us to notice and the best way to do that is to have a good system in place to check our site on a regular basis. Back in the pre-internet days we had to do the same with the telephone. If we were having a quiet day and the phone wasn't ringing we would tend to pick it up and check for a ringtone, just to make sure it hasn't be disconnected or it is faulty in some way.
Today new customers are very unforgiving and rightly so. They will simply move on if you make it too hard for them to contact you and give you business. So the moral to the story is don't do that. Make checking that your website is functioning normally a regular part of your business routine.