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What Out-of-Date Websites Say About Us

Someone wrote to me recently, asking for my opinion of two other business professionals. Because I am in a professional group with them, she knew I could vouch for them.

The reason she wasn't sure whether they were reliable, successful people is that their websites were woefully out of date. One hadn't posted on her blog for four months. Another listed "upcoming classes" that had happened in March and April.

Whatever positive things I could say about them were diminished by what their websites communicated.

What do out-of-date websites say to you?

Syntax Training 

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

7 comments on “What Out-of-Date Websites Say About Us”

  • Antiquated websites to me often signal that they do not care much about how they are portrayed online. This can mean a lot of things, none of them being very good. It’s 2009 and many, many savvy individuals exist online. Perhaps they are naive and discredit the power of an online presence but if they simply have not updated it makes me question their time management skills. Sure life happens but if you’re actively seeking opportunity, having an out-of-date website is simply unwise. I agree that it would make me question their reliability as well.

  • That’s pretty timely, and I hadn’t noticed it on your site. It’s especially telling if you’re considering joining a local organization and they haven’t updated their site for a long time – it’s likely not a very active group, and not worth the membership dues.

  • I agree. Whether warranted or not, it puts up a red flag about that business or professional. We all expect legitimate businesses to have websites, and to be taken seriously they should make the effort or spend the money to keep their web presence up to date. Even just updating the copyright year makes it look like someone’s home!

  • Desiree and Val, thanks for your input.

    Desiree, you are right about the amount of sophistication that is expected online. Thanks for reminding us of it.

    Val, I am embarrassed to say that JUST YESTERDAY I changed the copyright year on my website. (At least I am ready for the third and fourth quarters!) I had updated many things, but somehow the copyright had slipped by me. I am going to add the task to my Outlook calendar for January 2 each year.

  • We are teaching branding and web presence at a university sponsored incubator. Surprisingly, the educators are woefully behind on knowledge of what it takes to maintain an up-to-date presence on the web. Most start-ups are so busy with the development of their new company that they don’t have the time or resources to devote to what we believe to be the most important task of their career: developing instant credibility.

    I sincerely agree that an out-of-date website speaks volumes about your time management, attention to detail, and concern for your potential customer’s initial impression.

    We urge all of our incubator clients to utilize a Content Management System of some type. It not only makes it easier to update content, but allows much of the process to be automated.

    Even with AR attention to detail, small things like updating the copyright notice in the small print of your site can slip your mind. We’ve found a module that automatically changes copyright date and helps us avoid embarrassment.

    Lynn, keep up the great work. I’ve learned so much from you and I look forward to learning much more.


  • Hi, Harry. Thank you for your detailed comment. If content management systems make updating easier, I am glad you have mentioned them here.

    I am stumbling over the phrase “Even with AR attention to detail.” What does the abbreviation “AR” stand for?

    I am glad you are encouraging and helping people to develop credibility through their web presence. Enjoy the task!

    Best wishes,


  • My sense when people don’t keep their website updated or post new articles on their blog is that they are too busy to do it, they are no longer in the business or it was just a past-time for them, but now they have moved on to something else.

    Once I start noticing stale links on my Blog Roll, I remove them.

    When I first started in the virtual world, at times I would create a site and then forget about it. To remedy that I always put my blog link on whatever sites I have (such as Facebook Groups, etc.) and direct them to the blog as I keep it up-to-date with weekly posts.

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