5 Steps for a Smoother (and more Successful) Website Launch

Tips for launching a new website and ensuring its long term success

Notebook with launch plans
Notebook with launch plans.

The design and development of a new website can be a long and complex process. Rest assured, there is a light at the end of that tunnel.  As you arrive at that end, you need have a plan to ensure a smooth launch process.

While different projects will have different requirements and considerations that must be addressed, all website project launches can benefit from the following 5 steps:

1. Test, Test, and Test Some More

Testing a website prior to launch is incredibly important, but it is so easy to neglect this step if you are rushing to meet a deadline.

Skipping testing, including how your site works on different devices or whether performance can be further optimized, is always a mistake.

If you launch a website that is riddled with problems, that is the first impression you will leave visitors with. There may be a deadline to meet, but what is worse – pushing back a deadline in order to get the site right or rushing to launch and then having to apologize for a broken experience.

2. Choose the Right Date

On the subject of launch dates, it is important to be deliberate and strategic (and flexible) in the date that you choose. Do not rush to “go live” as soon as the site is ready. Instead, plan accordingly to ensure all the pieces are in place for a successful launch, including:

  • The agency or team that created the website is prepared for the launch and ready to respond to any last minute issues that may pop up
  • You are ready on your end with promotional efforts surrounding this new website launch (more on that to come)
  • You are properly trained on how to manage the site and its CMS so it will remain up to date and fresh
  • Tracking analytics are in place in order to measure results and gather feedback

You also want to select a day when any downtime will have the least impact on your business and customers. If you are a professional services company (accountant, lawyer, etc.), you likely do most of your business during weekday hours.

If this is the case, look to launch after-hours or on a weekend. If you are the type of site that sees most of its traffic on weekends (real estate websites fall into this category), then take the opposite approach and launch on a weekday or whenever traffic numbers are at their lowest.

In terms of flexibility, you need to realize that a launch date that was set at the start of a project may not be realistic as you near the end of that project. If your deadline is not flexible, then the scope of the project may need to be revised in order to get a working version live by that date.

3. Ready. Set. Promote!

Promoting a website’s launch is important. This means informing your current customers and users and also letting others outside of your current client base know about the new site. Press releases, email marketing, social media, search engine campaigns, videos, print ads, and word of mouth are all viable ways to promote the new website – and all of these things take time and require planning.

By choosing the right launch date, you can be sure that all the promotional pieces are in place on your end to drive traffic to the new website.

4. Brace Yourself for Feedback

Be prepared for some negative comments or backlash from your users after the new site has launched.

Existing customers often push back against changes, even if they are positive changes. This is normal, and if you have made the right decisions along the way, those negative comments will quickly begin to fade.

The trick with any comments, positive or negative, about a site’s launch is to really look at those suggestions to see if there is any value in them and to respond to them accordingly. Do not overact to any one comment, but also do not fail to act on a good idea because you dismiss it as simple bellyaching. That brings us to our last point…

5. Get Ready to Make Some Changes

All website projects should include a period after launch of gathering feedback so that you and you and the team you hired for that project can evaluate those comments. Obviously, if any of the comments you receive point out something that is broken, you do not want to wait to address that issue but should fix it immediately.

Other comments can be gathered and addressed after the dust from the launch has settled. I like to do this 90 days after the launch.

By scheduling a follow-up meeting 3 months after a site’s launch, you ensure that no changes are being done solely to appease initial push back at the new design. Instead, you can use the whole of the feedback you receive to improve your site so that everyone benefits.

These final 2 steps are ones that you will want to repeat over the course of your site’s life. By consistently gathering feedback, evaluating those comments, and making smart changes as needed, you will keep your site at its best for years to come.

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Your Citation
Girard, Jeremy. "5 Steps for a Smoother (and more Successful) Website Launch." ThoughtCo, Nov. 10, 2016, thoughtco.com/steps-for-smooth-website-launch-3466371. Girard, Jeremy. (2016, November 10). 5 Steps for a Smoother (and more Successful) Website Launch. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/steps-for-smooth-website-launch-3466371 Girard, Jeremy. "5 Steps for a Smoother (and more Successful) Website Launch." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/steps-for-smooth-website-launch-3466371 (accessed December 17, 2017).