Launching Your Website

January 10, 2016

Launching Your Website

In this video/blog, I'm going to be giving you my top tips for when you get around to launching your website. I’ll be covering a number of topics including when is the best time to launch your website, how to test your website thoroughly and creating a contingency plan for lengthy projects.

Key Takeaways: When Launching Your Website

  1. Define your purpose and goals: Establish the primary objectives of your website, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or selling products, to guide your design and content decisions.
  2. Select a domain name: Choose a memorable and relevant domain name that reflects your brand identity and is easy for users to remember and type.
  3. Choose a reliable web host: Select a web hosting provider that offers the necessary features, performance, security, and scalability to support your website's growth and traffic demands.
  4. Plan your website structure: Develop a clear and logical site structure that helps users navigate your website with ease and find the information they need.
  5. Design a visually appealing website: Create a professional and visually appealing website design that aligns with your brand identity, supports your website goals, and enhances user experience.
  6. Prioritise user experience (UX): Focus on creating a seamless and enjoyable user experience by optimising site speed, ensuring mobile-friendliness, and utilising clear navigation and calls-to-action.
  7. Create valuable content: Develop informative, engaging, and unique content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience, and encourages them to take action on your website.
  8. Optimise for search engines (SEO): Implement SEO best practices, such as using relevant keywords, creating high-quality content, and optimising meta tags, to improve your website's visibility and rankings in search engine results.
  9. Test and troubleshoot: Thoroughly test your website across various devices, browsers, and screen sizes to identify and resolve any issues or glitches before launching.
  10. Set up analytics and tracking: Integrate analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to monitor your website's performance, track user behavior, and gather insights for future improvements.
  11. Promote your website: Utilise various online marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing, and paid advertising, to drive traffic to your website and generate interest in your brand.
  12. Engage with your audience: Encourage user engagement and interaction by adding social sharing buttons, enabling comments, and offering opportunities for feedback.
  13. Maintain and update your website: Regularly update your website's content, design, and features to keep it fresh, relevant, and in line with the latest industry trends and user expectations.
  14. Monitor and measure success: Continuously assess your website's performance, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your strategies to maximise results and achieve your goals.
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Tip #1 – Don’t Rush the Launch

My first tip is not to rush the process of launching your new website and definitely don’t leave it to the last minute. It's common for business owners to choose close of play on a Friday as the day they want to launch their website. Imagine the scenario. Things don't go to plan; it’s 3:00 on a Friday afternoon when you launch your website. Your web designer's celebrating down to pub, drinking pints of beer patting himself on his back for pushing the site live against your tight deadline.

Then you realise that evening at 6:00pm that something's not quite right with the site, and now nobody's available to fix those problems, now you've got no choice but to live with that feeling all over the weekend. Friday is a really bad day to launch your website. To add to that, you find out on Monday that your web developer has booked herself 2 weeks in the Maldives using the profits from building your website…she is completely uncontactable.

Monday's on the other hand is really good day to launch your ne website, because it means that you've got plenty of time to fix any problems. Often, part of the problem of rushing your website launch means, that you haven't had the opportunity to test your site as thoroughly as you might have planned. First and foremost, I suggest don't be disheartened if your site launch is late or last-minute or feels rushed. If there are bugs those are to be expected. However, most of the 99% of the work will have been done. Last-minute changes can happen really quickly.

Equally, if you spot something at the last minute, on Friday morning that fundamentally needs changing then don't forget that's going to affect the launch time for your website. In the past I've stripped out features of websites just before we've launched because they're not quite right or not quite what the customer expected. What this means is that we can launch on time with a lean version of the website; we can switch those features off, we can fix the problems that the customer might have found, and then we can just add those updates in softly post-launch as and when they're ready. It just means we hit the launch date, but it doesn't feel rushed, and it means that we can solve any problems that we have found at a later date without the added pressure of trying to get the site live.

Tip #2 – A Website is a Constantly Evolving Product

Your website is an organic product or project; you should never consider it to be finished, so even when you launch it, immediately consider it to be out of date. The web moves so fast these days. We used to apply a three-year life cycle for a websites when we started out in 2004. Now you're probably talking about your website being out of date within a year or year and a half. You should be constantly looking to evolve and update your website on a regular basis. Don't forget that any features which your website doesn't have now, you should be able to enhance your website by adding those new features or making subtle design tweaks as time goes on.

What this means is that when the site launches, it doesn't necessarily have to be perfect, because the imperfections that you see as a business owner are likely to me missed by your customers. They just don't see those imperfections, and you may just be looking in too granular detail at your website.

Obviously, if there are glaring issues, then yes, you want to get in there and fix those, because those potentially might have an impact on sales. Changing a colour from like a lighter shade of blue to a light blue or moving a logo like two pixels to the left so it aligns properly; not many people are going to notice those minor tweaks except for you and your web designer. They are little niggly things that you can make a list of and then fix post-launch.

Tip #3 – Test Your Website Thoroughly Post Launch

When your website goes live test it thoroughly. In a previous blog/video, I talked about a site launch checklist. There are a number of metrics which you can test your website against when it goes live. Essentially what we're doing is checking that, from the point where your website's on a staging server to when it's on the live server, everything is in perfect working order.

Just to give you a few examples from the checklist:

  • Ensure that all of the pages are working so when you click through the navigation, every single one of the pages is working and there are no 404 errors or page missing errors.
  • Make sure that there are no broken links or missing images on your website so that there are none of those place-holder images with the little tiny image icon dotted around. Make sure the image is definitely there.
  • Double check specific features on the website are working such as:
  • Blogs
  • Checkout
  • Product and category listings
  • Slideshows
  • Your contact form.
  • Make sure that all of those features are working as you would expect them to work.
  • Make sure that when you submit a contact form, the email is definitely getting through to you.
  • Check that Google Analytics is installed on your website.
  • Test your website in a number of different of browsers and devices. Your website is going to look different on an iPhone, it's going to look different on an iPad, it's going to look different on a Mac, on a PC, on a laptop, on different screen resolutions and different screen sizes. Test t thoroughly on as many different devices as you have access to.
  • There are plenty of online resources where you can plug your domain name in, and it gives you screenshots of what the website looks on all sorts of different devices (tip, Google “Browser Shots”).
  • Make sure that your website is configured correctly for search engines, so install Google search console onto your website. It used to be called Webmaster Tools.
  • Make sure that social media icons are linked up correctly. Make sure that for example, your Twitter feed is updating as you tweet.
  • Run your site through the W3C validation tool to make sure there are no errors on your site code. Code errors will affect how Google indexes your website through its search engine.
  • Use tools like GTmetrix, page load speed, Nibbler and SortSite to test how quickly the page loads across different server locations. Again, if the page loads slowly, then it's likely that you're going to lose customers before they've even had a chance to find out who you are and what you do.

Tip #4 – Consider Uploading a Landing Page to Build Trust with Google

Google's page rank is based on trust. So the longer your website's been live and in existence, then the more Google trusts you. If you've got a big website project that you're developing, and it's going to take four or six months to go live then set up a holding page immediately from day zero so that Google has at least something to index so that when your full site goes live. This means that you've built up four to six months' worth of trust with Google before your final website goes live.

Doing so gives you a head start when it comes to optimising your site and your content from a search engine perspective.

In Summary

  1. Don't rush your website launch or leave it until the last minute. That's going to cause you problems and panic and stress. Make sure that you set yourself realistic time scales to launch your website.
  2. Remember that your website is an organic product. Don't consider it to be finished. The moment it launches, it's already out of date, and you're going to be adding features to it post-launch.
  3. Test your website thoroughly using a multitude of different tools and make sure you've got a website checklist (or email me for a copy of the checklist we use).
  4. Finally, Google's page rank is based on trust. The longer your domain and your website has been live for, the better your trust and PageRank will be. If your website's not quite ready, make sure you put a holding page up so Google can start to build up that trust.


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