I am in a room by myself laughing aloud as I write this post. My last post was put up weeks ago. It is unlike me to go so far in between blog posts. What happened? Well, my site launch. All those niggling things I spoke about throughout my posts such as proofreading and launch prep… they take a lot of time! But, I am on the other side and it is time to finish this series and talk about the last steps for launching your new small business website.
When is the best time to launch your website? There are multiple factors involved in deciding that but the biggest is your current site traffic patterns and your availability. Replacing an existing with a new site is not seamless. You can’t just wave a wand and have the new site take the place of the old site. For a period of time, your website will be unstable and… well… goofy looking. Therefore, you want to launch the site when you know historically not many people visit. But, you obviously want to make sure that you and your developer are there and available for not just the launch but a few hours after to find issues and resolve them as quickly as possible. Nothing is worse than pointing someone to your fresh new site and having them ask why it doesn’t work. Speaking of issues…
What went wrong?
Did everything go perfectly with your launch? Does everything work exactly as you expect at first try? That would be a first. For most web launches, small issues abound no matter how well you tested the site in advance. Test environments are just different than live environments and it never seems to fail that when you put a site live little issues arise. When we launched the new springinsight.com we found all sorts of small issues such as the twitter feed not working or blog titles not showing up. Dealing with these small issues is FAR easier if you have prepared for the fact that they will exist in advance. Be prepared to have at least one or two people check every page to look through everything and make sure it looks correct. You will also need to arrange in advance to have some way of communicating these bugs or issues to your development team. They should already have an established system for this that is trackable.
Look, it is a big deal! It is a lovely new website. Take a minute and breathe and be happy your new baby. Was that a nice break? Ok, back to work.
Who is lost?
It is likely that the structure of your old site isn’t the same as your new site. Perhaps on your old site your URL for your about page was www.yourcompany.com/about and with your new company it is www.yourcompany.com/aboutus. Likely you had some website users that bookmarked pages on your old website and when they go to visit those old pages, they will end up getting a 404 or error page. Once your site has been up for a few weeks, talk to your technical team and ask them to check the server error logs to see if there are any pages that people are persistently trying to reach that no longer exist. If you find that there are, you can create “virtual redirects” that will get users looking for the old site URL to the right place on your new site.
One of the biggest mistakes I see small business owners make is the propensity to see the launch of a website as an end. IT IS A BEGINNING NOT AN END! Let me repeat that, launching your new website is the beginning of your online presence. What are you going to do next? You probably have some thoughts on ways it can be better, ways you can better more efficiently serve your customers. Now it is time to turn those thoughts into a real actionable list that you can get started on!
Congrats on your new website? If you don’t have that new website, I would love to work with you on it and even help with these steps. Let’s talk.