You’re probably thinking that the hardest part about designing a new website is the design part–and maybe that’s partially true. But if you don’t properly promote your brand-new, fully-functional, user-friendly website, it’s like you’ve written the next great American novel but forgotten to publish it (like that could ever happen).
Here, we’ve assembled a list of six steps to ensure your brand-new website is given the launch it deserves.
Like a new relationship, or deciding to adopt a puppy… timing is everything. Make sure everyone is on the same page about the month, day, and exact time you’re going to go-live. Since it depends on your target audience, figure out via analytics when your site gets the most traffic. Perhaps there’s an event coming up that can coincide with your launch. Or, maybe you want to launch when traffic is low, to work out any kinks.
First, backup your old website, just in case. It’s always good to have the option to revert back to the old website, if an error occurs with the new one. Second, set up 301 redirects; you want all your website visitors to easily transition from your old site to your new one. Third, make sure tracking scripts are installed, so that Google Analytics can properly track traffic on your new site. And, finally, configure the DNS to point to the correct hosting provider, update all URLs to lead to the new domain name, and reprint old materials with the new domain name.
3. Testing, 1,2,3, Testing…
Make sure everything works on your new site. Have different employees test it out on different devices, and using different browsers; also, ensure emails and contact forms are going to the right people. Click every link, play every video, purchase every item (okay, there’s probably an easier way to check this), to ensure a smooth site launch.
4. Prepare Advertising & Marketing Campaigns
First off, ensure your Advertising/Marketing team knows the exact day and time they need to switch all campaign URLs to the new site. Also, plan some special campaigns for the new site. One of the best ways to do this is by writing new top-notch content for the site, because then you can promote the new site in a genuine way with your customers. Or, perhaps you want to incentivize people to sign up for an email list on the new site with special give-aways. Get creative.
As your launch day approaches, hold a meeting with everyone–your developers, designers, project managers, content creators, etc.–to give anyone the chance to communicate last-minute requests, and to set a game-plan in place for some of the things discussed above.
This is the creative, let’s-have-fun part… and also arguably the most important. On Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, wherever, begin a “pre-launch countdown.” Create a “Coming Soon” page to further inspire hype. Now, remember that awesome new content you created? Promote it. Not only do you want everyone to know about the new site, both before and after the launch, but you want to let your viewers know that your new site carries with it additional benefits if they visit… now.