A Marketer’s Guide to Launching Your Site

What you need to know before you go live.

Diana Lillicrap 8.05.2015

You’ve spent months reworking your website and now you’re finally ready to release it to the world. Is there a right way to launch so you have a great first impression? Absolutely!

For most companies, your website is a cornerstone in communicating with key audiences. Launching a new site should be exciting and a great reason to drive people to you to check out what’s new with your brand. That means your reputation and your brand image is on the line, and you’ll want to be sure when you open the new site to the public, it’s in tip-top shape. Here are a few steps to follow before you pull the trigger.

Test everything

Someone who hasn’t been too close to the project should go through each page of your new site and look at everything with a critical eye. Test every link, make sure every photo is cropped correctly, and ensure no empty pages or placeholder copy is hiding in your new site. If you have pages that have been deemed as “phase two additions” or “future considerations” hide them or take them off so you don’t launch your site in a way that looks unfinished.

Gather your data

Your old site is about to go away so be sure you have collected any data from your old site that you’ll want to use in comparison to the results of your new site. And if you haven’t added Google Analytics to your new site, do so now so it starts tracking right away when you launch.

Time it wisely

Everyone wants to launch on a Friday afternoon or a Monday morning, but the truth is you need to allow time for the new site files to load and users to start seeing your new site. And more importantly, you need your development team available to debug any issues that come about during the process. If you launch over a weekend, it might be least disruptive to your business, but make sure you’ll have the development team on hand to see it through.

It’s also a good idea to start with a soft launch and let the new site be live for a week before you make a big public announcement. The last thing you want to do is drive people to a site that has glitches and will give them a bad first impression.

Communicate to your team

Your employees are your biggest brand advocates. Keep them informed about your launch plans. Ask them to report on any areas that are not functioning as they would expect or any feedback they get from customers or vendors. And when you are ready to make your big announcement, invite your team to help spread the word via social media to tell their networks about the new site.

Integrate your marketing

Make sure any links from other places going to your site get updated with accurate new URLs. For instance, if you had a link to your contact page and the old site URL was xxxxx.com/company and your new URL is xxxxx.com/about the old link won’t work or it may just redirect to the homepage (assuming your developers have set up redirects for old links). Take the time to seek out and update links on other channels so you guide audiences to the correct landing pages within your site to best meet their needs.

Remember you are never done

The thing about a website is that it is never finished because it uses dynamic content that should change frequently. The day after your launch is the right day to add more content, start working on the next phase of functionality, or start planning for changes that are requested by the feedback you receive. And then again on the day after that, and the day after that. If you want your new site to stay relevant, the content you use needs to be significant and appropriate to your audiences. Use a content calendar to keep your team on track and ensure your new site is as great in six months as it was at launch.

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