The finish line is finally in sight! After months of planning, designing, content writing, photo shoots, bug fixing (and maybe a few late nights fueled by caffeine), it’s time to set a launch date for your new website. A website launch might seem stressful, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re organized and prepared. Here are a few of our favorite tips from the project management team for a smooth and successful website launch.
Website Launch DO:
1. Set a launch schedule and share it with everyone.
When is QA taking place? When are all final QA edits due? When is there a code-freeze? What time exactly will the site go live? We like to make 1-3 day launch schedules depending on the project size and then distribute them to all interested parties to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Think through your domain, website hosting, and server needs.
Do you know who has access to your domain registrar account? Have they logged in in the last decade, and do they know they’ll be responsible for pointing your domain to the new website? Where will the website be hosted, and how many visitors do you expect? These are all questions that need to be answered well ahead of launch time.
3. QA the website, QA it again, and then QA it some more on all of the browsers and devices.
We like to have designers QA to make sure the site that was developed matches design, we QA for content, and then we QA for functionality across multiple devices. You can’t ever QA enough, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll find something new on every pass.
QA aka Quality Assurance: The team takes time to test, proof and review the deliverable (in this case, a website) for accuracy and functionality as well as resolve any issues, errors or defects.
4. Have a post-launch QA checklist.
Make a list of all forms, links, images, files, and functionality that could have been compromised during the website launch.
5. Work with a data and analytics professional.
Develop a strategy for which KPIs you want to track post-launch to determine if your website is successful. Then, work with your development and analytics team to make sure you can view these metrics easily on your analytics dashboard.
6. Analyze your metrics post-launch.
You can’t ever analyze your results enough after launching a website. We like to look at our KPIs and install heat mapping to see how users are navigating through the website. It is helpful to set a post-launch analysis and given intervals after site launch (30 days, 60 days, etc.).
7. Listen to your customers.
We would like to think that you like your new website if you approved the design! Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean your website is resonating with your customers. Look at the data, and also check in with trusted customers to see what they think.
Website Launch DON’T:
1. Operate as a “team of one.”
You won’t be able to launch by yourself, QA by yourself, and bug fix by yourself. It’s too much work! Figure out which areas you can delegate, and line up reinforcements.
2. Forget about redirects and meta information.
One of the biggest mistakes we see in website redesigns is launching without following through on redirecting links from your old website. The worst thing you can do to your search engine optimization is kill a lot of well-ranking links without a redirect. Make sure you’ve got a good strategy for SEO before you launch.
3. Assume people will just find your new website.
Invest in that post-launch marketing plan to make sure all of the resources you put into your new website are well-spent. From paid search to email to social media, there is a world of opportunity for marketing your new website.
4. Forget about compliance and security.
Don’t forget about ADA compliance, SSL certificates, and security especially if you are dealing with sensitive customer data. A good website launch can turn into a PR nightmare if you aren’t careful with the details.