A wise person once said to me, “don’t announce the launch of a new website with a great fanfare”. It’s is a mantra I stand by to this day. You can pretty much guarantee that as soon as you make a big fuss about a new site, something somewhere will break or otherwise bite you on the bottom. The host will go down, the DNS will fail, you’ll find a massive and embarrassing typo in the header. You get the message
It is for this reason, that the only place we’re announcing the new site is here, on the site. Truth-be-told, I wasn’t even going to do it here. If you’re a new visitor, you won’t know any better. If you not, it’s blindingly obvious that we have finally updated our own website after a cringe-worthy number of year. [Insert adage about the cobbler’s children needing new shoes].
Seven things to remember when launching a site
1. Proof read your copy
There will always be typos, somewhere. But the fewer the better. If you haven’t commissioned a copywriter or editor, get someone else to read through the site. They’ll pick up most of the glaring errors at least.
2. Check your images are not placeholders
Some people use ‘place-holder’ images when building a site, i.e. images that are there for layout only. It’s especially important to replace ‘comps’ of licensed images with their fully-licensed counterparts. If you don’t want to pay for licenced images, check out sites such as unsplash.com for alternatives released under an appropriate Creative Commons licence.
3. Make sure all your images have alt text
Alt text is a short description of an image used by users of assistive technology, such as screen-readers. If you’re using WordPress, the alt text can easily be added via the ‘Media’ manager. All images are are not strictly decorative must have alt text to be considered accessible. It’s easily overlooked when adding a lot of content prior to a launch.
4. Test on multiple browsers across multiple devices
Make sure you test the new site. Some browser on some devices will render a page slightly differently to others. Consider Windows, macOS, Android, iOS devices and check Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Edge at minimum. The best way to test is on a range of physical devices. If you don’t have all the options available to you (who does!), then services such as browserstack.com can help.
5. Make sure your SEO is in place
The WordPress ecosystem features a multitude of different plugins to help with your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Yoast, RankMath, The SEO Framework to name a few. Once installed, they need to be configured, but the work doesn’t stop there. Make sure you tweak the meta description and title on your key pages at least. Also, consider the social media sharing options too. You can control how a page will be displayed when shared on Facebook or Twitter.
6. Don’t let the great be the enemy of the good
I get it. You don’t want to launch until the site is as near to perfect as you can get it. The problem is, that pesky 80:20 rule means you’ll spend 80% more time making a measly 20% improvement to the site. Meanwhile, the site isn’t out there working for you. Keep it in perspective and launch when it’s good enough, and then refine it as you go along. Which leads me to my final point…
7. Remember: your site is never finished
No matter how finished you think your new site is, remember that you are wrong! Sites that stand the test of time are sites that evolve over time. New content, honed landing pages, improved calls-to-action – they are all important to keep on top of over time. It’ll actually save you money in the long-run, as your site won’t need a major overhaul so quickly.