At this point, everything should be complete. You’ve structured your content; you’ve migrated your content; you’ve designed the pages; you’ve developed the site and you’ve optimized it.
Now, it’s time to launch it.
Approving the Redesign for Launch
First, you need to approve the site for launch. This is based entirely on your individual company’s approval process, but don’t approve the site for launch until you’re 100 percent satisfied with it.
The last thing you want to do is launch the site and then suddenly have to revert back to the old one. Not to mention it can be really demoralizing for developers to have to do this.
Migrating the Development Site to a Live Site
In order to launch the site, the developers are going to have to migrate the development site to a live site, which means they’ll need login information for any new hosting accounts you set up.
Everything on the development site will look exactly the same on the live site; the only difference is that it will use your live site’s domain name, which means the site can be viewed publicly.
As far as executing the migration, it essentially involves moving files, including images and videos, from the development site to the live site. If you’re using a content management system (CMS), the developer may migrate a database as well.
Don’t Forget to Remove Crawl Blocks
You also need to remove any crawl blocks you had in place on the development site. That way, Google will have access to your site again and be able to continue ranking it. Except now, the rankings will be based on the new design and any new content that was added to it.
However, if you fail to remove those crawl blocks, you run the risk of Google dropping it, which will cause your web traffic to plummet.
Check the Live Site for Quality and Crawl it for Errors
Start with a general run through of the site just to make sure everything looks good. We’re not talking about typos and things like that; that should have been done on the development site.
Next, ask Google to crawl the site to check for broken links and any other issues. If it finds any broken links, fix them as quickly as possible.
It’s possible for your hosting account to cause issues on the new site as well, especially if you moved to a different hosting provider. It could be causing performance issues, such as slow load times, or a more specific issue, but the live site should operate perfectly on the new hosting environment.
Website Redesign Announcements
Before sending an email out, take some time to really think this through.
Who needs to know about these website changes?
Break your site users out into groups. You’re going to have multiple groups who may require different messaging and delivery methods.
For example, you may have:
- First time site visitors (no need for a message)
- Subscribers to your blog
- Users of a resource like an online tool or class
- Sales people who use resources on the site
At the most basic level you have two groups of individuals you need to think about when announcing your website.
These are employees of your company or partners who use your website frequently. For example, sales people may use your website as a reference while on sales calls. You can cause a lot of chaos if you switch it up suddenly.
This would include everyone else like customers and subscribers. If you have an educational site, you’ll want to let people know where new materials are, how to login, etc. If you have an eCommerce site, you’ll want to let customers know how to access their saved shopping carts. In general, let people know what changed and how to do the thing they used to be able to do. Or if you removed something, explain why.
How to announce a website redesign
Don’t overthink it. You don’t have to use all of these, but here are some ideas we’ve seen in action that work well:
- Place a sitewide banner at the top (or bottom) of the site that states the website change and where to find more details about the changes.
- Send an email out to segments of your customer and subscriber base explaining the changes and benefits of the changes.
- Post on your social media channels and pin the posts to ensure visitors see the note about the changes.
- Update employee email signatures to include a link informing customers about the changes.
Think about expectations your customers have and then meet those. If your changes are minimal, there’s little need to inform the masses. If an online tool has increased in price and moved to a different location on the site, you should probably let people know!
Common Website Launch Issues
In some cases, launching a redesigned website is critical. For example, if your customers are aware of the redesign, you want their first experience on the new website to be a good one. However, if they’re not aware of the redesign, it’s not as big of a deal if some issues arise.
That being said, there are several potential issues that may or may not come up during the site launch, including the following:
- Failure to remove crawl blocks such as a robot.txt file
- Not everyone was on board with the approval
- Scrambling to get login information because something was changed at the last minute
- Picking a bad time (if you have a traffic-heavy site, you may want to launch it during a slow period, such as a holiday)
The launch phase is all about preparation; all the hard work has already been done. A smooth launch means your business can continue moving forward at the same pace.