It’s a satisfying moment, hitting that ‘update’ button for the final time as you put the finishing touches on your new and shiny website. Weeks, maybe even months of hard work are finally about to pay off and your website is about to go live. Then what? A new website in an ocean of newly published websites is not going to attract visitors on its own, that really would be asking a lot of the internet gods.
No, what you need is a successful website launch but what does one of these even look like? Any successful launch consists of several things, not just one magic key that will unlock the virtual floodgates while simultaneously putting a proverbial neon sign sign over your site for all to see.
What can you do then, to give your website launch the takeoff that it deserves? Well we has a chat with the team from Think Zap one of the leading web design companies in Glasgow and they were kind enough to share some of their top tips to launching a successful website! So Let’s jump straight in and take a look.
Decide on when to launch
This may seem a little redundant, but it is an important step nonetheless – especially if it isn’t just you that is involved with the website and the company behind it or the service that it represents and provides. Everybody involved needs to know when you intend to hit that launch button, so that everybody can prepare.
Content creators need a heads up, obviously, unless of course there is already a bunch of content that has been stacked ready to go. Marketers and ‘backroom’ staff need to know too so they can hit the ground running.
Make sure your site can actually be seen by search engines
Before you go all mission control and launch your website into, hopefully, the stratosphere, you need to make sure that it is indexed by search engines. This is one of the most important steps with any site launch, as it makes sure that your site actually shows up in organic search results.
Sitemaps can also be sent to help speed up the process and can by registering with the search engines themselves, to make use of their various tools, you can keep track of how your site is doing in relation to that particular search engine. Bing Webmaster Tools are very useful, and quite powerful, as is Google Search Console – if you are launching a new site, these are the two big services that you want to be making use of.
Don’t forget your URL migration
This one rather depends on how you have been developing your website. If you have been building your site from a different URL, to keep it away from curious eyes until it was ready, such as from a subdomain, for example, then you are obviously going to be changing the URL before launch.
If your site was built at, and all subsequent page links start from, “www.temp-address-for-awesomeness.com” but your final URL upon launch will actually be “www.sparkly-greatness.com” then you have a problem. 301 redirects in this case are not just ugly, but could cause issues with search results and ranking.
Instead, you need to alter the entire URL structure from the ground up. Most websites are built around WordPress, making this process fairly straightforward.
Make sure everyone is prepped and ready to go
If your URL is going to change with the launch, then you absolutely must inform everybody involved with marketing the site and services. Anyone involved with advertising, in any medium but digital especially as these changes can take a little longer to propagate, needs to know the new URL so that they can make the appropriate changes.
Printed material should, if not already done ahead of time (it’s unlikely you released anything with a placeholder URL, but there are other circumstances where these things may not be immediately apparent), reflect the new URL / domain as soon as humanly possible to avoid any delays or confusion on launch.
Get everybody up to speed
Before launch, get everybody in the same room or at least on a conference call – video is better – and start communicating. This is where last minute changes and requests should be made, so be prepared and set this meeting up in such a way that everyone has plenty of time to implement any ideas and suggestions that need to be implemented as a result of the meeting.
A week prior to launch is probably cutting it a little too close, while a month may be too long in some situations and leave things open to further changes which will inevitably delay the launch. You should aim for a comfortable middle ground, where that is will largely depend on how many people are involved and the scale of the project. That said, 2-3 weeks is usually enough for smaller sites and companies, but you may need a little longer.
Test, test and test again
You should be testing at every stage and milestone of the website creation process, but the testing phase does not end with the launch of the site. It is never too late, or a bad time, to test your website to destruction – the goal here is to find errors and issues before your visitors, clients and customers do.
Every single link on your website, internal and external, should be followed (this is especially important if your URL has changed) and every form should be filled in to completion – not just to see if it works on the site, but also to make sure that you actually receive the message in the backend.
If you have downloadable content, download it. Order some items from yourself too, in a testing environment rather than ‘live’ to avoid dozens of your own items being delivered. Obviously, you don’t have to download or purchase test everything, you just need to be sure the actual process works as expected.
Sing it from the rooftops
You have put your blood sweat and tears into something that you are very rightly proud of, so start shouting about it. Social media is a great way to spread the word, and a social media marketing campaign definitely something that you should be looking into as an ongoing strategy as well as all the other marketing that you should already be doing.
Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook (if you really have to) are all great places to start.
Press releases are also a great way to go, depending on your business or website type, naturally. In short, be proud and loud and make sure as many people and relevant businesses know about your site as soon as possible – and keep shouting about it.