Planning on launching a website? Here are 9 things you need to do first.
Launching a new website is a big project.
Like renovating a physical property, it requires a lot of coordination and communication between different parties. And like so many things, doing it the right way requires intentionality, forethought, and flexibility.
Here are 9 things you need to know before taking on this project:
1. Don’t Rush It
Let’s start here. It’s human nature to overestimate how much we can get done in a given amount of time. We see this a lot with websites.
Set aside at least a few months for your website to be designed and built. If you know you want to launch a new website by January 1st, you’ll want to try to start the process by November 1st at the latest.
More time should be set aside if you’re starting with branding, as that needs to be done before a website can be built.
Talk with your designer to understand how much time you should expect between starting the design process and launching the website. Realize that whatever time frame you’re given will also be dependent on completing tasks you’re assigned such as providing images, content, and other collateral.
2. Create a Launch Schedule with Your Team
The schedule should be created with everyone involved with building the new website.
If you’ve hired a copywriter or photographer to help with content, be sure that you connect them with your web designer. This ensures that everyone understands their responsibilities, what they need to provide and when it’s due.
Write these things down so everyone’s clear on what was agreed upon, but remember to be flexible if certain things take longer than expected. When creating your launch schedule, work backwards from the launch date. You’ll want to make sure that you include these things in your launch schedule:
- Reaching out to people who will help you promote your new website (see below for tips)
- Time set aside for testing and feedback.
- Soft launch (to further test that everything works).
- Giveaway/promotion start/end dates.
- Content/social schedule (social media, email blasts, etc.)
3. Determine Your Launch and Website Goals
This step is twofold…
What are your goals for your website? Having a “pretty new website” isn’t enough. It has to be intentional and functional. If the goal of the website is to drive more inquiries, the website should be built to lead visitors to that end.
What are your goals for your launch? If done right, you’ll probably have more eyes on your website than normal. How are you planning on engaging people? Are you hoping to get a certain amount of traffic to your website? How do you get them to come back? Are you capturing leads using your email list?
4. If it hasn’t been tested, it doesn’t work
If you work under this assumption, you’ll vastly increase the chances of a stress-free launch. Adequate time for testing the new website should be built-in to the launch schedule. This is more than just clicking the links in the top-level navigation to see if they work.
This also includes…
- Checking for broken links (there are tools that do this) and making sure links behave appropriately.
- Being sure pages and posts have been optimized for search engines.
- Having others go through your website to give you feedback.
- Testing various integrations such as lead catchers, payment gateways, and contact forms.
And making sure all these things are done on both the desktop AND mobile versions of the website.
We always recommend soft launching your website if possible to make sure that everything is working as expected before sending people to your website. There’s nothing worse for a launch than coordinating it, having others promote it to their audiences, and then finding out it doesn’t work.
5. Have a Strong Call-to-Action (CTA)
Don’t just say, “Check out my new website!”
When people get to your new website, what do you want them to do? The CTA should be tied to the goals you created for your launch. If it’s to get more leads, direct people to your contact form or lead catcher.
Whatever it is, make sure it’s clear to visitors. Do your best to ask people to do ONE thing when they land on your website, and make it easy to complete. If you ask too much or make it a complex task, it’s less likely people will complete it.
6. Set-up Your Website Analytics Tools
(Here’s a good place to start: Google Search Console & Google Analytics)
These are the kinds of things that people often wait to take care of after their launch. But make sure these things are setup correctly before your launch. Both of the suggested tools will give you valuable insights into your website and visitors.
Wouldn’t you want to know if there are any indexing issues before you launch your website?
And on launch day, wouldn’t it be nice to know where most of your visitors are coming from—social media, email, a friend’s website?
If you’ve set measurable goals for your launch, these tools will help you track your success.
7. Run a Website Launch Promotion or Giveaway
If you’ve been intentional about coordinating your launch, there’s a good chance you’ll have more visitors than normal. A thoughtful giveaway or promotion can help continue to generate exposure for your new website beyond the day of your launch.
It’s also an effective way to capture leads. We used a giveaway tool to run a giveaway the last time we launched our website, and we grew our mailing list by 25%. Try creating a giveaway or promotion that encourages others to share about it.
Need ideas for launch? Here are a few ideas how to create hype around your website launch.
8. Ask others to Share about Your New Website
If you have relationships with other non-competing business owners in your industry, consider asking them to share about your new website with their audience. These asks are always much easier if you’ve done something similar in the past for the person you’re asking.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you do ask:
- Give people advanced notice so they can plan accordingly. The bigger the ask, the more advanced notice you should give. For a website launch, try asking at least a month in advance.
- Someone promoting your stuff when they could be promoting their own is a big deal. Respect them and their audience by making sure your website is working and offers value.
- Honor their time by sending them copy, images, and directions for sharing. Creating that stuff takes time!
- Offer to return the favor in the future (and keep that promise!).
9. Offer Value Now—don’t promise to offer value later
Much of your launch strategy will revolve around getting as many visitors as possible to your new website when you launch.
But how do you keep them coming back?
Offer value. Lots of it.
When you launch, try to make sure that you have a few pieces of content ready for your visitors. Don’t just have one blog post about what will come in the future. Try serving your audience today.
This value can come in the form of blog posts, vlogs, tutorials, or guides. Or, a combination of those things. Don’t promise to offer value later. Don’t talk about all the cool stuff that will eventually be on your website. Provide it now. It would be like Chick-fil-a opening a new store, but only to pass out cards saying here’s what will be on the menu eventually.
Do Your Website Launch Right
Launching a new website is an investment of time, money, and resources. And it’s an opportunity to get your website in front of new people. Doing it the right way will have a greater impact on your business long-term. It takes more effort and intentionality. And it might mean not moving quite as quickly as you’d like.
But it’s always worth it.