Managing a website launch is a big deal that takes a good amount of time and effort from many people. You can compare it to building a house. Before any wood gets cut, thousands of decisions get made — from choosing a plot of land to choosing the knobs on the kitchen cabinets. In between lies a wide spectrum of issues that concern many players – the architects, developers, construction workers, interior designers, landscapers, and of course, you. With the cost of the design and construction of a house, it’s no surprise to you that the project required a lot of time and effort or that there were technical issues that needed to be wrapped up at the end.
We need to have the same expectation when it comes to website launches. We’ve seen it before, clients get excited about their new website and often start to fall apart when they encounter issues or don’t hear the positive feedback they were expecting. They get caught up in the hype and forget that all good things take time.
In order to manage realistic expectations for a website launch, we’ve provided some helpful tips we’ve learned over the years.
Before a big website launch, it’s important to give some time to remember why you started this process in the first place. At this point, you and a team of experts have poured days, weeks, and months into creating the site, but now it’s time to re-evaluate.
It’s not enough, though, to simply ask yourself these questions. Bring them before your team and have them answer on their own. Likely, the answers will sound similar, but it might reveal some expectations that are set too high. Remind your team of how an effective website can benefit your business, but keep bringing everyone back to earth. Ground your team and know where everyone stands.
One of the keys in setting realistic expectations is knowing what’s true and what isn’t when it comes to site launches. For instance, did you know that new websites often see a temporary dip in SERP rankings? This is due to Google needing to re-index your website, old redirects still sitting on your new site, bad error codes existing from technical issues. These are all fixable, but know what you’re getting into so you aren’t startled when issues arise.
Understanding how things circulate in the background can be one of the best ways to set realistic expectations for a website launch. It’s understandable to be giddy about the release, but it’s vital that you know what’s going on with technical elements.
Make sure the development team is being clear with you about milestones they’ve crossed, issues they’re running into, and ways in which you can help. This way, if there is a roadblock, you aren’t caught off-guard and can hopefully address it and move forward.
Even though you want everything to be functioning well and looking beautiful, the truth is you’re probably going to be the only one who notices some of the errors. Still work hard to double and triple-check things, but learn to be okay if things aren’t spotless.
Need tips on practical things you can review prior to launch to put your mind at ease? Here is a short pre-launch checklist for you, the client, to review once the development team notifies you before launch.
Managing a website launch is a big deal, especially if you’ve spent a good amount of time combing through all your content and setting everything up to accurately reflect your business and act as a communication channel. It’s no small feat. This is an act the be celebrated and promoted, just like anything else you do in the business.
That being said, you should not plan for the circus to come to town over this launch. Rather than envisioning every reaction by every person, just let it play out. Let people respond in their own way. Don’t feel the need to over-hype or seek out exuberant response from all your supporters. Celebrate with your team and get back to work on supporting the new site.
The majority of feedback customers give tends to be negative. Think about your own life. Do you typically go out of your way to wage a complaint or share praise? For most, it’s the former.
The same applies to your customer base. If you don’t hear anything from them, that may actually be a great thing. It may just mean that you communicated your message clearly. Again, we recognize you want to hear all the bells and whistles once the site goes live. But more times than not, customer are happy the new site is up and will find what they need all on their own.
Website launches are tedious and take focus, effort, and time to get it right. We know, because we’ve been there. It is our responsibility as website designers and marketers to help set realistic expectations and manage those moving forward.