You’ve been working hard for weeks (or, let’s be honest, likely longer) building a new website to give your business a professional online presence. Now that you’re done gathering artwork, creating content, reviewing designs and clicking through site pages, you’re itching to flip the switch on the completed site.
Take a deep breath. You don’t want to rush a launch if your site hasn’t been thoroughly tested.
If you teamed with web professionals on the project, they’ve likely followed their own procedures to ensure the site’s launch success. If they didn’t also share some steps with you, or you just want to reassure yourself, consider these steps before you make it official:
Before inviting a worldwide audience, including friends, family, peers, clients and the search engines, to check out the site’s greatness, ask at least three close advisors to click through the site without any further direction from you. And, if you can, watch them as they do so with tight lips. After spending several minutes with the site, using as many devices as they have at hand, ask them to answer the following questions:
After reading through each of their responses, discuss any repeated concerns with your web professional to decide if further action should be taken.
Right before site launch, or at least before you make any public announcement, is the time for you to get to know your site’s backend. Having the ability to keep your site’s content fresh is imperative for continued online success, and you don’t want to be learning your “how-tos” on a live site with heavy traffic. If your site was designed with a popular Content Management System like WordPress, you can find countless numbers of tutorials online. Even if you designate a virtual assistant or your web professional as the one who will make the bulk of your continued site changes, empower yourself too by engaging in a walk-through tutorial or by reading through written instructions before your site is hot. To start, obtain your login credentials. Once logged in, tweak some existing site text, upload a new image or write a new blog post. If at any time you’re overwhelmed, pass it back to web professionals and learn your limits.
Ask your web professional to share all necessary logins related to your site. Know if your site has a backup, and how it can be restored when necessary. Be sure you can login and access your site’s domain, email and hosting control panels. If Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, YouTube or Google+ were integrated into your site, know how to access the Google account to which they are tied. Same goes for any other related social media accounts, such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you have working forms on the site, such as contact forms, newsletter signup boxes or ecommerce transactions, be sure that you receive all submissions and know where they are controlled. Ask for any original images purchased for the site, as well as any custom-created design files, so you can archive them for future use.
As you get better acquainted with your site, plan to participate in at least one follow-up conversation with your web professional to go over your maintenance needs. We schedule meetings with our clients about two months after site launch, after they’ve had time to make some content changes and understand their limitations, whether they be related to time, patience, knowledge or speed. Some especially savvy clients, or those with a built-in support team, choose to work with us after site launch on an as-needed basis only. Others appreciate exploring our annual maintenance package, which include a set number of design hours as well as software and emergency support. No matter what you choose, you’ll want to know your options. Because your website should continue to reflect your business, you should be sure it has at least one person’s continued time and attention.
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