How to Successfully Launch a Website

Jenny Peterson Dubinsky

Launching a website is like building a house. There are tiny elements to it, all of which have to come together to create a likable user experience. Even when you have hired an agency to do the job, there are so many pieces to the puzzle that it can quickly get overwhelming.
Having a plan, though, helps. And that’s exactly what we are giving you, here. Here’s your ultimate guide to launching a website, so it stays on schedule, meets your expectations, and does the most important thing – generate business.

The Prep Stage

Before you write even a single line of code for your website, you need to have the basics in place for smooth functioning.

Put a team in place

If you are the project owner, identify the tasks you will be outsourcing and the tasks you will be keeping in-house. If you intend to hire freelancers for the job, decide the kind of freelancers and the number of freelancers you will need. For instance, if you are making a WordPress-based website that will primarily act as your online brochure, a designer with experience in WordPress should be sufficient. Similarly, if you don’t have an in-house content team, you will need a good copywriter to write copy for your website.

Get your communication sorted

When there are several people involved, approvals and communication can become tricky. Invest in a collaborative platform, such as Slack, that lets everyone keep track of the project easily. Locking down on deliverables and delivery dates is also a good idea. Keep it realistic, though. For instance, if you are planning on a lot of third-party integration, quality analysis will take that extra bit of time. Take such factors into account when locking down deadlines.

Identify your target audience

Get your whole team together and come to a consensus on the buyer personas you will be targeting. Information such as gender, location, interests, and buying habits is important for etching out detailed buyer personas. Buyer personas will also help you analyze a typical consumer journey, which will eventually help you with how the website should flow.
In addition, consult with the project owner and decide the tone you will be taking. For instance, if it is a health insurance company catering to millennials, the language should be informal and easy to understand. However, a company selling medical equipment to hospitals will probably be better off with a more formal approach.

Do an SEO audit

If you are revamping your old website, you don’t want to lose out on content that generates a high volume of content. At the same time, you also want to eliminate fluff. Google Analytics is your best friend here. Identify high-ranking pages and high-traffic pages with the help of Analytics. In most cases, the two will be the same.
Make an Excel sheet with these old URLs on one side and the corresponding new URLs on the other. You will need 301 redirects for all of them. If your old website had a blog, import that too, even if it didn’t fetch much traffic. Sometimes, old articles can inspire creative content strategies.

Decide how the information will flow

Use the insights you have gathered in steps 3 and 4, above, to decide how the information on the website should flow. The primary goal of the website will be a key factor. Use data from step 4 to justify your information architecture.

The Build Stage

You will need to zero in on the preferred platform for the website. While budget is an important factor, other pertinent considerations include:

  • Content management
  • Third-party integrations
  • Security
  • Performance and uptime

Involve technical as well as non-technical team members when deciding on your preferred platform.

It is also important that you give your development team modern workflow tools for better efficiency. Ideally, the development environment should have features that allow easy testing and bug-fixing, such as version control.

The Launch Stage

As you get closer to the launch date, it is important to do an in-depth qualitative analysis of the website. Here’s a quick checklist of areas you should be testing:

  • All forms
  • 404 errors
  • Typos and other kinds of content errors
  • Licenses for any stock photos
  • Consistency in design across the website, including fonts, line spacing, and headers
  • Auto-response emails
  • Permission errors in CMS
  • Compatibility across devices and operating systems
  • Any kind of speed optimization
  • Security issues, such as vulnerable code
  • Any faulty plugins

In addition to that, get the website reviewed by people other than those in the team. Friends and acquaintances can be helpful. A new set of eyes will be able to tell you if the website is able to communicate the desired proposition, effectively. They will also be more alert to errors that you might have missed.

Rinse and Repeat

It is important that you follow the agile methodology in web development. Perfectionism is a myth. Get it as close to perfect as possible, launch it, and track user behavior. Tweak elements as you gather data on how visitors are responding to the website. Heat maps can be super helpful here.

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