Here at Bluetrain, we’ve seen our fair share of site redesigns and redevelopments… And we know just how exciting (and exhausting) the process can be! From project kick-off to the design phase to finally uploading your brand new content, the site redesign process can be a long one, which is why clients are usually super eager to launch and show off their beautiful new website!
If you are nearing the end of your site redesign you may be feeling that excitement, however, before you get carried away with JOL (the joy of launch), pause for a minute to consider these tips for a successful website launch.
Tip #1: Don’t choose an exact launch date
This may seem counterintuitive since you clearly need a launch date in order to tell the world when to visit your brand new site, however, you could box yourself into a corner by getting fixated on promoting a specific launch date.
I’ve seen this happen multiple times, a client decides that January 1st will be their launch date (come hell or high water) and then proceeds to panic when inevitable, last-minute issues arise close to the launch date. Now, we are not discouraging having a goal to aim for, you should have a goal that everyone is working towards, but be flexible and don’t force your team to launch a site that is fraught with bugs and errors because of a date you randomly selected six months ago.
Another reason to seriously consider tentative launch dates
Let me present one more scenario: Company ABC markets their new website and gets a good number of people to check out ABC.com. Let’s say 60% of new visitors hit a 404 error page on their first visit because the website was launched without some important 301 redirects in place, and another 30% get to the site but find it to be buggy and full of broken links. ABC.com has just delivered poor user experiences to the majority of people who took the time to visit the new site.
“Avoiding a hard launch date will release you from the temptation of launching a site that just isn’t ready.”
Now, knowing the risk you’d be taking launching a site with all of these issues, would you still launch? Probably not. This is why avoiding a hard launch date is important because it releases you from the temptation of launching a site that just isn’t ready.
Tip #2: Try a Soft Launch
So the big question is: How do you tell the world that your new site is coming and accommodate for the fact that your ideal launch date may change?
There’s only one answer: soft launches.
A soft launch allows you a few weeks buffer so that you can work out the bugs, collect feedback, and keep your sanity all at the same time! At the start of the soft launch, have your staff go through and let you know if they notice anything. Prioritize all feedback from staff and other users and then get to work!
Tip #3! Generating buzz
Below you’ll find a list of our favourite ways to generate buzz when launching a new site.
- Announce your new website in your email signature. Super obvious, right? Funnily enough though, this isn’t the first thing people usually think of.
- Send an email blast to your subscribers. Again, pretty obvious, but really important as email is still the main way people want to be contacted by your business. Also, depending on your audience and the nature of your business, you might want to email more than once and even send a teaser a few weeks in advance with a couple of screenshots from the new site.
- Include a banner or pop up on your old site letting people know the new one is coming. Keep them excited and engaged by switching it up.
- Promote your upcoming launch (and new site when it’s ready) on social media. Have a contest on your company’s Twitter or Facebook Page and ask your followers to find certain things on your website, such as a specific page or icon, this will get them to explore the new site. Get even more people to respond by offering a prize to the first 50 visitors.
- Let visitors know that anyone who’s willing to answer your exit survey will get entered into a contest to win something really cool and, ideally, relevant to your business.
- Create a video that guides users around the new site. This is, of course, dependent on the type of site and how major your changes were—if it was mostly just a change to refresh your look, it might not be important; if you completely changed how your users will navigate the site then this could be very useful.
- Advertise using LinkedIn or Facebook Custom Audiences so that you can let specific groups of people know about your site.
There! Now you’re all set to launch. Prepare to experience the joy of launch.