How To Get Your New Website Launch Right

Your new website launch is right around the corner.

Your palms are sweaty, you feel sick to your stomach, “something’s going to go wrong!”

Stop. Breathe.

This isn’t a rocket launch. It’s a website launch. And professional website design agencies do this all of the time.

It might be new to you, but trust me, it’s not new to us.

Launching a new website can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. Even if you’ve done it a handful of times, you can always be better prepared!

So, how do you get your new website launch right?

Don’t Launch on a Friday

You should never, ever, launch your website on a Friday.

Everybody is too focused on their weekend, reflecting on the week, or rushing around trying to tie up loose ends, to take on such a complex task on a Friday.

The other disadvantage of planning your new website launch for a Friday, is that, should disaster strike, there’s going to be nobody around over the weekend to put things right.

Here’s the thing:

You want to give yourself a good run at the website and plan to launch when everyone’s head is in the game.

Monday is a day for catching up for the weekend, Friday is a write off.

At Canny, we always plan our website launches for a Tuesday, which gives everyone plenty of time to get caught up.

It also means that everyone is on hand for several days after the launch to fix issues and address concerns.

Why Delay? Do It Today!

Providing you’re reading this on a Tuesday, stop delaying, and get your new website launched now!

Not really. Make sure it’s ready first and plan the launch strategy with your design agency.

The point I’m making is this:

Too many websites never see the light of day, because of needless and senseless delays.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “Can you just make the logo 3 pixels bigger and shift it 2 pixels to the left?”
  • “We’re still not convinced on that shade of teal.”
  • “I’m just putting the finishing touches to the content.”
  • “Can we launch next week, I’m just really busy this week!”
  • “I don’t think we’re ready to push the button on it just yet.”

Look at it like this:

You’ve just invested a healthy amount of money into your new marketing platform. In theory, it’s 10x better than your existing website.

Why not get it out as soon as it’s ready?

Prioritise the things you need, over the things you’d like. Sure, it would be great to have every single landing page ready for launch, but you can always add to it later!

Needs vs wants is a difficult thing. Because some would argue that your website isn’t right if it doesn’t reflect your brand.

I’d say it’s not right if it’s not performing. And if it’s stuck in developmental hell, how can it be performing?

One of our clients, The Rock Box, enlightened us with this quote:

“Perfect is the enemy of good. I’d rather a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”

And he’s exactly right.

You’re not working on a new website for nothing.

Get it out there, and get it making a return for you as soon as you possibly can.

Have a Stop Date

You need to have a date where all work on the website stops.

You shouldn’t be nitpicking the size of the logo, changing layouts, colours, or anything of the sort that close to a deadline anyway.

In an ideal world, all work on your new website should stop 3-5 days out from when you’re ready to launch.

Choose a day several days out from launch, mark it on both yours and your agencies calendars, and agree, this is the day we stop working on the website.

From that date until launch:

  • No more issues will be fixed
  • No more bugs will be identified
  • Nothing else will be tweaked
  • No logos will be made bigger
  • No colours will be changed

You’ll never get to launch day if you refuse to draw a line under the progress you’ve made.

On your stop date, all new issues should be logged in your project management software. This way, they won’t be forgotten about, and can be actioned after launch.

And remember:

At some point, you just have to ship it!

Choose The Right Web Hosting

One of the key things people to overlook when launching a new website, is where that website will live.

Every website needs a home, and that home is your choice of web host.

There are a huge range of hosting solutions available, and if you’re unsure on what you need, ask your design team.

Sure, GoDaddy’s pricing looks great.

But believe me, their hosting is not.

With hosting, it really is a case of “pay peanuts, get monkeys.”

There are huge drawbacks to using cheap website hosting.

If you’re here to look for hosting recommendations, at Canny, we use a mix of Flywheel and WP Engine. I’ve also heard good things about Krystal Hosting.

Hosting can be quite the brain scratcher. What’s important, is you make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

Comparing the price of a dedicated WordPress host like Flywheel, to a “we’ll host anything and everything” site like GoDaddy or TSOHost is like comparing an Aston Martin to a Ford Ka.

One of the key thing you’re looking for when choosing a website host, is website speed, and communication with your web host.

If they don’t have Live Chat, or Telephone support, run away.

Communication is key. Which leads us on to our next point.

Collaborate, Collaborate!

There are 3 parties involved in the launch of a new website. And it’s important that everyone involved in the process collaborates.

You’ve got;

  1. Yourself, the business involved who are having a new website built
  2. Your design agency, the team that built the website
  3. Your website hosting partner, the place your website will live.

Quite often, if an agency offers website design services, they’ll also have a preferred hosting partner.

If you can, take them up on their recommendation, as this’ll make your site launch much less stressful.

Having worked on over 200 website launches in my career, I can testify to this:

There’s nothing more stressful, than a 3rd party web host that make things needlessly difficult.

We use Flywheel for most of our hosting packages, because they make our lives easy, and their support is top notch.

We install a programme on our computer called Local, and on launch day, we hit the “Publish” button, and up it goes, onto the live server.

Then, all we have to do is configure some settings, and the new website springs to life.

Collaboration between all parties, it always makes things easier.

If everyone is working towards the same goal, then everyone is on the same page, and can work together to make things work.

Ahead of time send the following over to your agency;

  • Chosen host and login credentials (if you’re not hosting directly with your agency)
  • Access to your domain name and DNS settings

Without these, nothing will be going live.

So, remember the 3c’s when it comes to launching your new website;

  • Calendar
  • Collaborate
  • Credentials

That should make sure your website launch day go off without a hitch.

Run Through Our Website Launch Checklist

We’ve had an internal new website launch checklist at Canny for several years.

We run through this checklist just before our stop date, giving us time to fix those last minute bugs. And then, we run through it again on launch.

And we want to share it with you to help you get your website live without an issue;

Check Your Links Work

Check the links across your website work. Click every link in your main navigation, every link in every dropdown, and every link on every page.

There’s nothing worse than broken links!

Not only is it bad for user experience, but it’s also bad for search engine performance.

And if you’re using a platform like WordPress, it’s easy for links to get broken in the transfer of test environment to live.

Here’s a list of common links to check;

  • Main navigation
  • Sub navigation
  • Social icons in the header and footer
  • Buttons on each page
  • Call to Action buttons

Broken links are bad for business. Make sure you test them.

Check Your Forms Work

Forms are a pretty essential part of most lead generation websites.

If they don’t work, you’re in big trouble.

Find each form on your website, and run several tests on each of them. When testing, use an email address that isn’t linked to your domain name.

Check the form submission process from both ends.

From the customer perspective:

Is the user experience nice and clean? Could anything be improved?

It’s best practice for the customer to be redirected to a Thank You Page after submitting their form. This way, they can be tracked in Analytics, and also advised on the next steps to take.

From the your business perspective:

Does this form get us the information we need from potential leads?

It’s a good idea to have a “catch all” solution installed, that allows you to view form submissions in the back end of your website too.

Relying on email can be a nightmare. Spam and Junk filters are a wonderful thing (not!)

And remember to test your mailing list forms too. Having people convert into subscribers is an important part of your lead generation strategy.

Check Your Website on Different Browsers and Devices

Your website design agency should have taken care of this for you, but it’s always good to check.

Sure, you might be looking at your new website on a lovely big monitor, in Google Chrome but others won’t be.

Check your website in the following browsers;

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Internet Explorer

And then check it on a;

  • Mobile phone
  • Tablet device
  • Laptop
  • Desktop computer

This will give you a full overview of how the website looks and functions at different sizes.

Anything that’s not right, put it in the bug list ready to action after launch.

Redirect Old Pages with SEO Benefit

As part of your website redesign project, you’re probably looking into improving the site’s SEO.

This is where it’s important that you don’t neglect the value of your old website.

For however poor the website looked or performed, it probably had some sort of SEO benefit.

A good agency will have identified the relevant pages at the start of the project that were performing well in search.

Those pages should have then been either;

  • A) Recreated with the new website design
  • B) Redirected to a better, more relevant page

Don’t let good link equity and search engine performance go to waste by scrapping absolutely everything.

Something else to keep in mind here, is if you’ve changed the name of your blog, you’ve probably also changed the URL structure.

For example:

Let’s say your Blog is now called Insights.

Blog posts probably used to live at;

yourcompany.com/blog/post-title

And now it’s;

yourcompany.com/insights/post-title

If that’s the case, you need to redirect each of your posts to make sure nothing is lost in the transition.

Put the SEO Basics In Place

As I’ve just mentioned, just because you have a snazzy new website, you can’t let the fundamentals slip.

Make sure every page in the website has a Meta Title and Meta Description.

They might not be considered important ranking factors, but it makes your Google results look better, resulting in more clicks.

Implement Google Search Monitoring Tools

There are two important (and free) tools that Google provide website owners.

They are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Both of these tools let you track your website’s performance, and are invaluable when looking to understand your website traffic, where you’re losing leads, and how to improve the site.

It’s a ten minute job, and something that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

Once you’ve been through our website launch checklist, it’s time to…

Make a Big Deal About It

Now that you’ve got your website launched, it’s time to make a big deal about it.

Below are several ideas for promoting your new website;

Send Out a Press Release

Unless you’re a massive company, traditional press are unlikely to pick up a story about a new website launch.

However, trade publications for your sector, and digital news sites such as Bdaily and BQ are always running stories about new sites.

You can submit stories to these sites yourself, so don’t rush out to hire a PR agency straight away. But if you have one on retainer, make sure they run the story about your new site.

If you’re looking for a website template, Press Release Zen have a good blog post that outlines the basics of writing a successful “new website launch” press release.

Post on Your Own Website

You can about your new website on both your old website, and the new one.

On your own site, around 2 weeks before launch, put out an article saying your new website is “coming soon” and highlight the benefits to your visitors.

When your new website goes live, post a “behind the scenes look” at the creation of the new website.

Schedule Social Media Posts

You can use a tool like Hootsuite, Buffer, or MeetEdgar to schedule social media posts about your new website launch.

When you set about scheduling, make sure you add in some posts at times where key customer markets are active.

It’s no good scheduling everything for GMT if America is your second biggest market.

And remember, you can probably post about your new site launch for an entire month, because social networks only show your posts to a small percentage of your audience.

Here’s a bonus tip;

Use Instagram stories to highlight new features of the website, and take your social media follows and customers on a website walkthrough.

Send Out a Mail Shot

Now is the time to use your mailing list!

You can create quite a buzz from just sending out a simple email explaining you’ve just launched your new website.

Make sure you include the following people in the list;

  • All blog/newsletter subscribers
  • All leads
  • All existing customers

Don’t ever buy an email list.

Keep it 100% legitimate, only sending people who opted in. By doing that, you’re ensuring you get the right people on your new website.

Add “Check Out Our New Website” To Your Email Signature

How many do you send a day? I’d like to bet that it’s quite a few!

By adding a simple link into your email signature, you can get even more eyes on your new website.

Just look for the Signatures field in your email software, add in “Check Out Our New Website” as a link, and everyone you email will have a chance to see what you’ve been working on.

Use Paid Advertising

Finally, it’s a good time to restart those paid advertising campaigns.

If you’re using Facebook Ads or Google Ads, restart the campaigns and get people directly onto your lead generation pages.

There’s nothing wrong with paying for traffic, and a new website launch is a great time to get your new campaigns up and running!

What to Do Post Launch

So, your new website launch was a success! What next?

Well, there’s a few things that you should be doing once your new website is up and running.

React to and Fix Website Bugs

Because of the stop date, you’ll have certainly noticed a few extra bugs.

Now is a great time to react to those, clean them up, and forget about them.

Check for Broken Links

Even though you’ve already been through our website launch checklist, there’s a chance some links could still be broken.

Run through the site again, and check every link you can.

Verify Site Speed

Use Google Page Speed Insights to verify the speed of your new website on both mobile and desktop devices.

If your website is performing well, then no worries. However, if it shows a poor result right out of the gate, you’ll want to get onto your agency to find out what can be improved.

Good websites are fast websites. Your site’s performance and speed should be optimised as much as possible.

Claim Your Local Listings

If you’ve not done so already, claim your local business listings.

There are a whole load of free index websites out there that will let you list your website. These are called citations.

You can work with an SEO agency to action this for you, if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.

The most important one to setup is Google My Business, and you should do that straight away. This then allows your contact details and reviews to show when someone searches your company name.

Keep The Promotion Going

Like I mentioned earlier, new is subjective.

Social channels only show what they want, when they want. There’s a high chance people have missed the fact you launched your new site!

Personally, I think you can keep your “Check out our new website” promotions going for around 3 months after launch.

Don’t let anyone slip through the net!

Celebrate!

Get everyone involved together, and celebrate in style.

Launching a new website is a big achievement, and it’s probably consumed the last few months of your life.

Once it’s up there and all the bugs are fixed, it’s important to take stock and celebrate what you’ve achieved.

Conclusion: How To Get Your New Website Launch Right

Launching a new website isn’t easy. It takes a lot of careful planning.

You need to set out your expectations at the start of your project, schedule the launch date in your calendar, and finally, collaborate with all parties to make sure everybody is on the same page.

Once you’ve done that, run through the website launch checklist, fix the bugs, and you’re off to the races!

And remember, don’t launch on a Friday.

What do you think? How did your last website go? Let us know in the comments below.

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