By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, November 02, 2008 at 08:28 AM with 6 comments

guestbook photoIf I ask you if you have a guestbook, what do you think about? Do you think about a guestbook function on a Web site? Or do you think of a paper book in your home or business where people write an entry when they visit you in person? In asking this question, I am asking about the latter, but of course thinking about both.

In our home, my lovely wife and I have a guestbook. The cover actually reads “gaestebog” which is Danish for guestbook, as it was given to us by family in Denmark. When we visited them a few years ago, they asked us to sign their guestbook, and we commented that we should have one of our own. A few minutes later, they gave us the one we have, and pictured in this post, as they had an extra one. Now in active use for the last few years, it serves as a great souvenir of friends and family who come by to visit, for dinner or overnight.

It is interesting the reaction we get when we ask people to sign the guestbook. Most are surprised we have one, and usually in a good way. The most interesting reaction is when they turn to a blank page, with pen in hand, and ponder for a moment what they will write. In this day of tweeting and informal writing, it is nice to have something tangible and more formal.

In the early days of the Web, many Web sites had guestbooks. These were a Web page which functioned like the paper, offline guestbook, where people could fill out a form and see their post listed with everybody else who did the same. Over time, these pages went away for reasons that probably include everything from the sophistication of the Web, to people not filling out entries. Today it is not as much about people simply dropping by your Web site as much as the detailed analytics of their visit, and there are other ways to engage visitors by using site membership, eCommerce and blog comments.

Or are guestbooks online still relevant today? I welcome your thoughts on this. I have to admit I am not compelled to add one to The Hot Iron or Dunkirk Systems’ Web site. You are more than welcome to comment to this here, or simply say, “hi.”

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