At The Levels we agree with the mantra that it’s all in the planning! Every now and again we’re asked what we think are the most important business issues to consider when launching a website and we keep coming back to that mantra.
Write your business plan, consider your customer, understand your market and your place within it. Once you’re confident you have a great product, you’ve engaged with a web development agency and you’re about to hit the “Go Live” button stop for a minute. Take a look at the site afresh and go through the following check list.
1. SEO AUDIT
Run a full SEO technical audit of the site: However good (& or expensive!) your web development agency is, it’s vital that you take another look at the site from Google’s perspective. It doesn’t matter how powerful your content is or how numerous your site back links may be, if you don’t have a clean & searchable site you’ll struggle to place well at Google and the other search engines. An SEO audit of your test site will allow you to fix any major issues before you launch.
In order to measure the success of your site and to spot any usability issues it’s vital that you’ve deployed an appropriate web analytics tool. Spend some time with your provider or your web development agency configuring the tool to measure the success metrics applicable to your business and to flag any usability issues that might present themselves after launch. If you’re spending any money marketing the site then ensure that your agency or marketing department is using your analytics tool to track these campaigns as well.
3. eCRM PROCEDURES & POLICIES
We all hope that no one will ever be critical of our site or the business we run but in reality everyone likes to complain some of the time! Before you launch you need to understand exactly how you will deal with negative comments or complaints. Have a clear & documented eCRM policy in place. Ensure that everyone in the organisation is aware of this and understands escalation policies.
4. CONTENT POLICY, CHECKLISTS & TRAINING
If you have a team of writers or contributors adding to the content at your site you need to establish the ground rules. Work with them to establish a tone of voice and brand identity that will colour all of the content you deliver to your users. It’s also vital that they’re considering how their content will be consumed on-line. Are they trained to write for the web? Are they aware of SEO considerations when uploading content? Have they been fully trained on your content management system? If you’re running a content heavy site it’s worth considering a “Writing for the Web” training course to refresh even the most experienced journalist on the latest trends and techniques.
5. CHANGE MANAGEMENT
As with any business it’s vital that everyone involved in the launch and development of the site has clear sight of the change management responsibilities and procedures. You must have well defined & documented sign off polices in place and quality checking on any changes that effect the user experience. Many a great website has been ruined by a lack of change management.
6. TEST, TEST & TEST AGAIN
Before you launch you need to test every element of the user experience again and again. Have you delivered a site that meets the needs of your users or the assumptions you have made about them? If you have the resources to run lab tests to observe users travelling through your site then do it. If your launch budget doesn’t run that far then ask your friends, family and colleagues to play with the test site and let you know what they make of it. It’s better to delay the launch of a site which subsequently meets the expectations of your customers than to launch with a substandard product. TEST, TEST & TEST AGAIN