A website is an excellent addition to your business marketing strategy, and you should exploit it to its full potential for maximum benefits. Launching a website is an exciting journey since you will unveil a new look for your brand. Some business owners make several mistakes when launching a website. However, planning can help you avoid these mistakes. Although launching a website may seem like a demanding task, keeping some fundamental things in mind will ensure a hassle-free website launch. Here are a few tips to help you launch your website successfully.
Planning involves creating a roadmap for your new website. This allows you to ensure that everyone is on the same page and aware of their responsibilities. Your team should consist of people with different skill sets. Your web design team should do competitor research, define your audiences’ needs, establish the website’s goals, plan a content strategy to support the website, and make a promotional plan that works with the content.
This strategy involves reviewing your competitor and making a list of all their strengths and weaknesses. Competitor research when launching your website is all about understanding the kind of market you are about to enter. The weaknesses represent your opportunities to do something better than your competitors. A complete website crawl is essential since it can tell you about your competitor’s SEO and content strategy. Competitor research at this point is about reviewing their keyword strategy, understanding the barrier to entry, and getting an idea of how to carve out a comfortable spot in the niche.
Defining Your Audiences’ Needs
Sometimes your competitor may be targeting the wrong audience. Defining your audience and what they want gives you clarity of the content to create and visual design to include. This step also allows you to identify the keywords to target and how to meet their needs best.
Choose a Domain Name
As a business owner, you want to avoid negative associations in words chosen for the domain name. In the early internet days, people used a misspelling of a keyword as a domain name. However, when this trend is copied over and over, it begins to appear snappy. Today, the best practice for creating a domain name needs creativity and research. Ideally, we have two types of domains; branded and keyword domains. A brand name is when you have a business name as your brand name. The brand name can be based on the founder’s name or something that communicates usefulness. Keyword domains are powerful because visitors tend to want what is in the keyword. The best thing is to have a combination of a keyword and brand name.
Another best practice when creating a brand name is to avoid complicated domain names, including long names, hyphenated domains, or domain names that are hard to spell. Also, focus on choosing a domain for the long term. Look at the broad and future side of your business. For instance, using the word “shoes” as your domain will feel awkward when you decide to sell jackets. Be less specific and more general because you will give your website greater flexibility to grow.
Design the Website Structure
If you fail to plan appropriately, you may find yourself backed into a corner since your website is not flexible enough to grow. Website structure is the first part of planning your website. Document what you intend to publish, including the content, services, and products. Create what SEO experts call a Pyramid Site Structure. The structure considers the homepage as the topmost and general level of your website. The deeper you go into the website, the more specific the categories and pages become. Developing your website in this pattern gives room for growth. This pattern also makes sense because giving the top-level categories a general and broader topic allows growth by adding subtopics later.
The website design consists of three levels; overall, category, and webpage levels.
Overall Website Level
This level begins by choosing the suitable CMS and theme. When searching for a CMS, type the name of the software and the word “vulnerability” to get an idea of how well that software is coded. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities are common, and most themes and plugins have had one or two of these. Consider the functionality of your CMS and the weight of the code in terms of kilobytes. Also, look at how websites built with that software perform.
Navigation features are another thing to consider. Properly planned website navigation and website structure make a website usable to visitors. Define the user interface for the header, footer, and along the website. Also, consider utilities and functionalities that do not overlap or clash with other software. Site functionality helps avoid overlap between plugins.
When using a template, you must change it to fit your style and meet your website goals. No template will come optimised and ready for use straight off the shelf. When choosing a template, you must decide whether you will start with something minimalist and build it up to what you want, or start with something more advanced that looks like what you want.
You need to decide on a style guide that outlines everything you want to be included on your website. Your style guide should include fonts, image assets, call to action, buttons, and logos. Your SEO team can speak about what is needed for on-page optimisation and user experience metrics. The web design team can take the SEO wish list and make it happen. Your graphic design team can outline what images result in the best website performance. Ensure you plan all the considerations you want ahead of time to make it easier to optimise.
Category Page Level
This phase is where you define how you will make it easy for users to find content within a page. Look for a structure like links, that allows visitors to find important information. The best practice is to make it easy for users to navigate to essential articles within a category. The primary objective here is to get visitors what they want with as little hassle as possible. Ensure that your team considers how the website serves users when deciding on the design of the category page. This will improve customer satisfaction and time spent on your website.
This level involves inspecting the structure of your page, what it looks like, and how pages interconnect with each other. Include links within the content to guide readers to more information. Discuss the type of content, structured data or reviews to include on each page. Ensure that your team addresses all these elements so that you can move forward.
Stage Your Website
Before staging your website, introduce the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You want your website to be perfect and ready for launch. MVP is a product development concept that forces a concrete endpoint for achieving proper functionality. This approach helps you avoid getting stuck in the developments stage. MVP outlines what needs to exist, how pages should look, and which pages should be fully functional. In other words, it defines when your project is ready to go live. The final step before going live is staging your website. This step occurs online, but you must password protect your website. Use plugins that facilitate website staging and services that provide a hosted space. Website staging is essential since you can A/B test it to identify any flaws in the design.
The Task Before Launching the Website
If your new website is replacing an old one, or you’re joining two websites, crawl the old website first. Take a list of all the URLs from the old website. Once you launch the new website, you can take the URLs from the old one and feed them into a website diagnostic software like Google Developers Chrome DevTools. You can also run a complete website audit check to ensure that your new website is healthy. Another thing that you want to do is back up the old website. Download every file, including your images, database, and any other asset. Backup is insurance should anything go wrong with the launch.
Launch Your Website
After ensuring that everything works as planned, you can now launch your website. Once the website is live, do some post-launch diagnostics. Run another website audit while the website is live. A software like Screaming Frog is ideal at this stage. The software will tell you about all your broken links, redirects and alert you if you are missing any assets.
You can also expect some minor issues that may present themselves after the website is live. You may find pages that do not display correctly or colours that do not contrast enough for colour-blind website visitors. Despite your efforts, some issues will only show after the website is live. So, do not get upset about it. The vital factor to remember is that your website is live and in a 99% usable state.
Launching a new website is labour-intensive and time-consuming. However, your hard work will go rewarded if you follow these tips. Conduct several A/B testings to ensure that you eliminate flaws before users can interact with your website. If you feel like the work is too challenging, do not hesitate to seek help from an experienced website design agency.