You and your IT team have just finished your beautiful, functional, intelligent new website. All of the T’s are crossed and the I’s dotted. It’s time to push that big red button on the wall to go live.
Don’t relax just yet. The process of launching a new or redesigned website is critical to the success of the development project—and your marketing campaigns.
Here’s a few tips to go through to ensure your launch will be a seamless go-live transition.
Agree on the launch timing.
Discuss with all those concerned the best time to launch the new site. Reach agreement on the best date, day of the week, and time of day to go live. Should you launch over the weekend? In the middle of the night when traffic is low? Agree on a launch time that works for everyone.
Back up your current website before launching the new one.
Just in case anything goes wonky during the launch, you’ll be able to revert to your old site. More than likely… you won’t need it; but if you do, you’ll be glad you took this easy step.
Check your technical transition
There are a myriad of technical elements to consider when transitioning out of the dev environment, including configuring the DNS to point to the proper hosting provider, updating all hard-coded URLs to lead to the new domain name, or the WordPress/Site Address URLs if using a WordPress template. The processes may vary depending on the location of your dev site (different server vs. sub-domain on current server vs. sub-folder on current server).
Make sure you’re seen by the search engines
Before launch, ensure the entire site is set up to be indexed by search engines. This is a critical step if you want your new site to be visible in organic search rankings. Take this to the next level and submit a sitemap to Google Search Console to ensure Google can crawl all the pages you want indexed.
Avoid the ugly 404 page
This is a crucial step. Make sure you have a plan in place to set up redirects as soon as you launch the new site. Delay or failure to set up 301 redirects could affect your existing campaigns and lead visitors to the 404 page.
Install tracking scripts
Make sure the necessary tracking scripts are installed, such as those for Google Analytics. Double-check that the tracking code in your Google Analytics account matches exactly with the code on the new site.
Synchronize your marketing efforts
Notify marketing and advertising including internal and third-party teams of the pending website change so they can update their campaigns accordingly. If your domain name is changing with the new site launch, give extra warning and a clear deadline for changing URLs in all campaigns including printed materials.
Test. Test. And test again.
Here is a partial checklist to get you started:
- Test all links and navigation.
- Ensure all images render properly and videos play.
- Test all contact forms and ensure emails are going to the right people.
- For e-commerce sites, test the cart and checkout functions.
- Have multiple people test the site on different devices and browsers.
Show off your new site.
Your team has poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this new site, so show off your hard work! If it’s your new site, be sure to alert your customers and potential visitors of new and improved features. If you created the site for a client, share your work on your portfolio, social media, blog, and more.
There are a lot of things to remember when launching a new or redesigned website, so create a checklist and detailed schedule so nothing falls through the cracks.