Your website is finished! You’re ready to launch! That’s the end of the road for your redesign project, right? Well, maybe not. Regardless of whether you’re an in-house designer or a freelancer, there are some major benefits to guiding your client through the launch process.
If you still need some guidance yourself, don’t sweat it. This article will cover all of your launch needs, including:
Imagine for a moment that you’ve been invited to a brand new restaurant, but when you arrive, there’s hardly anyone there. This is exactly what happened to John Moore Williams. At first, he was confused by the low attendance. Then somebody mentioned that it was the restaurant’s soft launch, and only friends and family were being admitted that night. Ohhhh.
What kind of affect does this have on the few who have been chose to participate? They’re pretty pumped. It makes them feel special. Being singled out to experience something that not many people have the opportunity to is a flattering experience, and that’s something that you can take advantage of.
This is why soft launches, beta versions, and other exclusive “sneak peaks” at a project are so effective. It turns an experience that usually wouldn’t be something to get that excited about-- going to a restaurant, visiting a webpage-- into an exclusive event that people are thrilled to attend. This helps you for a number of reasons:
It’s a great way to complement your existing marketing strategy to help your project gain popularity organically. And the best part is that you can create scarcity for virtually anything, if you think about it. What makes your site stand out? Is the information new, uncommonly interesting, or even just particularly high-quality? Whatever your angle is, play it up!
So, you’ve had your soft launch, and now you’re just sitting around waiting for the real deal, right? Not quite. This is a great time to start soliciting feedback that will help you fine-tune your design or interactive components of your site.
Much like the soft launch, this generates some amount of scarcity. You’re letting just a few lucky people have access to the site, which may drum up some excitement if your site’s particularly impressive and your testers feel inclined to share.
Plus, you’ve got the added bonus of actually receiving feedback about your designs. Remember that the site you’re launching is designed to be an interface that visitors can use to somehow access the company. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what those visitors want, need, and expect never hurts.
Not all feedback is created equal. It’s as simple as that. It’s okay to be a little bit ambitious when looking for people to give feedback. Find people within your field who are influencers to some extent, and loop them into your network.
It’s important to establish some connection to the people you’re hoping will help you promote your site because otherwise you won’t get very far. Most influencers won’t respond to a cold call, email, or Tweet. Approaching them through a network allows you to provide context for your request and establish a relationship, both of which will help you harness more of tester’s time and attention.
Launch day will be crazy. And exciting. But also crazy. This is especially true from a tech perspective. If you’re at all responsible for managing the behind-the-scenes part of the launch, you might want to bookmark this list for when the big day arrives:
You can also make use of many of these platforms if you aren’t on the tech side of things. Remember, get your site out there on as many platforms as possible!
As if you didn’t have enough to think about concerning your launch, here are a few more things to consider. First of all, site crashes can happen. It might be a bug in the code, it might be heavy traffic to your site (yay!), or it might be something else. Have a plan in place to deal with a crash, just in case that situation arises.
Also be sure to monitor how your site is doing. Google Analytics is a great start for this-- it provides you with ton of quantitative data-- but it can’t tell you everything. Keep an eye on other platforms as well. Pay attention to both positive and negative feedback alike. It may be tough to hear criticism of your design when you’re so thrilled just to finally see it go live, but in the end, it’s always worth it. Feedback helps you understand how visitors respond to your design, and like I said earlier, visitors are the reason you’re designing the site in the first place.
Do you remember way, way, way back in step one of the design process when you defined your goals for the project? After the launch day excitement has died down a little bit, it’s a great time to revisit those goals. Leave your feelings and opinions at home that day, and really just dig into the metrics you had wanted to improve. How did the relaunch affect them? Numbers don’t lie.
As you’re looking at your goals against your outcomes, keep in mind that partial success is possible, and it is still success. You may not have gotten everything perfectly perfect, but that’s okay!
After all of the work you’ve put in so far, the word “iterate” probably makes you cringe, but it really shouldn’t. Your new design becomes your baseline. All that’s left is the fine-tuning. Run some AB tests on different versions of your site, pre-tune and post-tune, to see what performs better. It’s generally good practice to test first and publish second, that way you don’t inadvertently take a step backwards. Yikes.
It’s been a long road to get to your website’s launch, but you’ve finally made it! Congratulations! Keep analyzing, iterating, and being awesome, and we’re sure that your design will be a success.
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