Your New Website Is Launching in Two Weeks? Don’t Panic! Follow These Tips for A Smooth Go-Live

Topics: Compliance, Cybersecurity, Kentico, Managed IT Services, Security

Your website is perhaps your most important marketing tool, and is often a client’s first introduction to your brand. To make a good first impression, follow these website launch best practices before, during, and after site-launch and ensure that your website “passes the test.”

It may seem too obvious, but I have seen many instances where there are silly and glaring spelling and grammar mistakes that can turn your website audience off. Check your website’s content thoroughly, including articles, blogs, and menu items, and don’t overlook content prioritization to ensure an optimized browsing experience for your desktop and mobile users.

So that’s the content – what about the images? Stay away from boring, run-of-the-mill stock imagery, and remember to store up an image library in advance so you can rotate images in and out over time, for proper occasions, conferences, events, etc. Also, make sure that all images appear neatly on the site, and that favicons appear reliably in browser tabs.

Next, check if website visitors can successfully complete forms, place orders, and take other actions required to interact with your website. These are crucial to your lead generation and conversion efforts, so make sure they work properly on every page. All of these things may seem trivial, but do often play a big part in the larger picture, and are important to have in place before launching your website. Be sure to check the site regularly post-launch as well, as the content is updated.

Get Technical

Check to see that you aren’t missing any title tags or meta descriptions. Test your website across multiple, commonly-used browsers including the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. You may want to invest in a browser-testing application such as Browserstack, CrossBrowserTesting, or Browsershots to make the testing process more efficient. Remember to redirect the pages from your old site to your new site and ensure that there are no broken links – no 404 errors! Site speed is also an important factor. Your site should run as quickly and efficiently as possible.

After site launch, continue checking the content management system (CMS) for any issues, and check for broken links on a regular basis. Additionally, make sure that your web analytics package is properly recording web traffic.

Get Organized

You will want to perform thorough quality-assurance testing both prior to and during site launch. Additionally, you should hold frequent internal meetings to be sure that your team is caught up on all ongoing tasks.

Post-launch, make sure you focus on promoting your new site! Inform your clients and partners of your new site and its latest and greatest achievements. How do you do that? Let’s find out in the next section.

Go Social!

Social media usage is rapidly growing in popularity among Internet users of all ages. Hence it’s logical that social media, together with perhaps a press release, will be the greatest platforms for promoting your site launch. With convenient, accessible “share” features, this can accelerate the publicity of your site. Be sure to display social media icons on your homepage, and consistently throughout the rest of the pages. For best practices on integrating your social media and website, refer to my post “Making Social Media Your Website’s Greatest Ally.”

Mobile-ize

How well is your site displayed on mobile phones and tablets? A mobile-friendly website is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must to connect with your ever-growing younger audience that is constantly on their mobile devices. Make sure your content is easy to find on desktops, as well as mobile devices. Check out some practical tips for developing an effective mobile strategy here.

Integrate

Integrate a calendar with your site (or a master calendar if need be), for integration of multiple events (for example, if you’re linked with other organizations). If your organization has other third-party systems and social media channels, make sure they are all well-integrated with your website.

There are multiple ways to integrate a calendar with your website and each CMS has a feature to help you do the same. For example, Kentico contains an “out-of-the-box” feature that allows you to create events on your website and display them on a calendar. Visitors can then view this calendar and register for events directly on the site. You can manage the settings and properties of each event, such as maximum capacity or registration dates, within Kentico.

You can also integrate a Google Calendar with your website. Google offers an easy way to embed an iframe into a page. If you don’t need a lot of customization, and just want a calendar to show your upcoming events, this is a simple, straightforward way to include your calendar on your website. You can even customize the CSS to match your own website’s styling. If you’re looking for something totally custom, Google offers an API that developers can use to create more of a calendar app for a website. Maybe you’d like a way for website members to create and add events that are then synced to your official Google Calendar. A Javascript, PHP, and other programming language options are available for developers to use for creating a totally custom calendar application.

Lastly, remember that little search box on your website? It could be a little devil causing visitor drop-offs if you don’t pay enough attention to it. Now that you’ve got great content that’s shareable on social media, make sure it’s searchable as well. Think about all the wealth of information that sits not just in the content management system (CMS) but also in your social media, association management system (AMS), community platforms, e-store, journals, etc. If your site users are looking for those, they’d better show up. Integrate a search application that works to pull information simultaneously from multiple channels, organize that information, and show that information to your site visitors in a fast, and efficient manner. That’s the concept. How does it actually work? Check it out on one of our clients’ websites: https://www.nutritioncare.org/.

Now Sit Back and Relax, or Should You?

You have followed these guidelines and have performed routine checkups of your website and internal systems. You have tested everything thoroughly and launched your website. Your work is done now… or is it? You probably guessed it: the answer is “No.” Your work does not end with the launch of your website. You have to continue to monitor everything and constantly update images and content to keep things fresh.

It might be a good idea to survey your internal and external audiences and obtain frequent feedback from site visitors.

Launching and maintaining an engaging website is indeed hard work. But being aware of some common pitfalls and having a plan to avoid or overcome them can save you a lot of sleepless nights.

Here is a summary of some of the tips discussed in this post. Hope you find them useful!

Content
Spelling and grammar: proof-read
Images, links, and favicons
RSS and social media links
SEO and analytics
Forms
Image library
Technical
Titles and meta tags
Cross browser checks
No 404
Backup – Dev site
Site speed
Redirects
XML/HTML sitemaps
Traffic load testing
Protected member-only pages and site security
Test test test!
Mobile
Content prioritization
Mobile-friendly features
Third-party systems’ mobile features
Social
Social media
Press releases
Integration
Calendar, CRM, AMS, community platforms, social media, search

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Reference:

“The Complete Guide to Launching A New Website,” Steven Macdonald, Search Engine Journal, November 2013