7 Steps to a Successful Website Launch [VIDEO]
There is a famous quote from Steven Covey that you should ‘Begin with the end in mind.’ But very often when setting a website, people lose sight of the end goal. They get excited about initial ideas and want to rush to get something up online.
In our experience, the big problems with website development usually come at the end, where a lot of small details were not discussed beforehand. In a rush to get things going, we end up causing more problems. Very often the development project goes over hours and can spiral out of control.
To stop this from happening, and to stay on track, here are 7 Steps will prevent all the chaos from happening at the very end.
This is a step that is often ignored or many agencies don’t go as deep as needed to make sure everything is detailed and outlined thoroughly to prevent issues later on in the project. “Discovery” is where you figure out all the details and issues that you might face up front before the project begins. This includes understanding the requirements, the specifications, and creating a clear sitemap. We take time to understand everything a company needs for their website and document it out into line items. In this discovery phase, we get agreement on everything before we start, which reduces friction down the track. Most of the time for simple sites we will spend over 10 hours in discovery and for larger projects 50 – 100 hours of discovery time to make sure everything is dailed in.
- Development Research
- Platform & CMS Selection
- Scope of Work
The way things look is an essential part of the website today. Thanks to brands like Apple, the quality of design has become more of a focus today. Good design can close more sales and increase customer engagement. To do this properly requires user experience research on what works. We also create a brand style guide. These decisions help guide the design and make things look and work better together.
- Mockups & Revisions
- Website Content
- Brand Assets
- Online Design Guidelines
- Design Deliverables
This step is where we set up a staging environment for the website. This allows us to test the site, and to show mockups to the clients we work with. In this phase, we include documentation, and track files using git so that every line of code is recorded. This way, any person who might work on the website in the future is aware of what happened during development. All the work that was scoped out during the discovery phase is then given to the developers to create.
- Internal Development Kickoff
- Staging Environment Creation
- Product Database & Synchronization
- Checkout Assets
- Progress Reports
The next phase includes doing QA on the site. The design team will look over the site again, and ensure everything looks correct. If the site is an ecommerce site, we will ensure that products can be purchased. This is the same for B2B and B2C websites. Testing includes checking the functionality of the site on mobile, and all the different web browsers. At this phase, we will also let the client test the site and give some feedback so we can tweak as much as possible in the pre-launch phase.
- Internal QA Testing
- Checkout Process
- Transactional Emails
- Client Review & Testing
Before launching a site, it is crucial that the website owners know how to use the site. This is especially important for an ecommerce site or any website with a lot of user interactions. There are a lot of moving pieces, and there can be connections with fulfillment and suppliers that we need to make sure are happening smoothly. Ideally, we do the training in person, and will also video record a training session for future users.
- CMS Training
- Online Training Recorded
This is the big moment, the exciting time that everyone looks forward to. However, it has to be planned appropriately. For example, we have learned not to launch a new website on a Friday as sometimes there can be some issues over the first few days. Therefore we usually launch a site on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday so there is time to adjust for any problems or small changes that may arrive.
- Launch Prereqs
- Production Environment Creation
The final step is essential to the process. We allow at least 30 days for support in case anything needs to be handled. We plan for this ahead of time, so we have the bandwidth to offer support. Our goal is to create this end-to-end support from discovery to launch and beyond.
- 30 Day Post Launch
- Project Needs and Edits
These seven steps will help to make a website launch as smooth as possible. Every site is unique, and the preparation we do early will pay off at the end.