Lessons learned from launching a website
As told by founder and CEO Tony Seminary (March 2021)
Recently my company IT Motives had our website updated and it looks great! I want to give a big shout out to our digital marketing agency partner Sproutbox Media for helping deliver to us such an amazing new-and-improved website.
Having said that I thought I would share my experience with getting us to this point, and mostly the mistakes I made and lessons learned along the way. I feel like I broke every rule along the way when launching this website. These are just my experiences and may or may not be yours, but I thought I would share so you can watch out for any of your own blind spots.
- Do not try to do everything on your own. I am an entrepreneur and I fit the persona in that I am not nearly as good as I would like to be with delegating. I engaged my team at the beginning of this project to gather their requirements for what the new site would look like. I also got my recruiting team to put together the very comprehensive page that is our Resource Center. And I also received help from my operations manager with integrating our database with the new site. Outside of that, I did this project mostly on my own. And that is not a good idea. Instead, I would recommend having a team of 2-3 people and call it something like your website revamp committee. It was a long slog to do it mostly by myself. Why did I do it that way? I kept saying to myself I did not want to have too many cooks in the kitchen, as I thought that too much different input would bog down the time to launch. Thinking about it after the fact, I believe having a small team to help me would have actually sped up the time to launch.
- Yet another reason to have a small team to collaborate with is because after a while, all the content on the pages start to look the same. Your eyes stop catching the errors that a team of people QA’ing each other’s work would find.
- Speaking of QA (quality assurance), spend the money and get your website professionally looked at from a spelling, grammar, sentence structure, branding perspective. My goodness that was a big-time error on my part and something I overlooked. I am still shaking my head…I eventually did get the website professionally looked at, but it was not until after the launch. That is kind of a** backwards now isn’t it?
- As I mentioned one thing I did do at the beginning of the project was gather my team’s requirements (so at least I felt I did that right). But what I should have done along the way is let the team know what made it to the website from the initial requirements gathering session and what was tabled. So they would have been in the know of what to expect when the launch ultimately happened.
- About a week before launch I provided my team the mock website and asked them to go through it for a couple of hours and find any spelling or grammatical errors, and make sure all the links worked. And did I mention I did this during the website lockdown week, where Sproutbox Media had told me that for a week prior to the launch no changes could be made. So why did I have my team QA the site a week prior to launch when I could not make those changes anyway? Shaking my head again…so after the lockdown period we launched it and then I fixed the errors the team suggested. It should have been the other way around.
- Do not keep track of the changes and your to-do list in a Word document and instead use Excel to do those sorts of things. It would have made my life a lot easier. Word was a terrible idea on my part…
- I am a recovering perfectionist. I know that about myself, and so I kept changing and changing and changing the content. What’s the saying…perfect is the enemy of good. I kept trying to tell myself that as I was revising the website and pouring over every single detail. But it was hard for me to let go and find the place where the website was good. Again another reason why a team approach is far better.
- Be ready for technical issues. It happened to us. If you are trying to do things such as integration, automation, and overall be more operationally efficient there is a high likelihood the new website will not work the way the old website did. So after the launch, you might have to do some triage and more revisions. Meaning your website project that you thought was off your plate when launched has boomeranged back to you which was deflating for me. What happened to us very simply is that our new website and our database were not completely syncing the way we envisioned. It’s technology and you are going to have issues. That is just the way it goes so mentally plan for that.
- Do not have anything on your schedule the day of the launch and for at least another day. Otherwise, you will not be happy with yourself knowing your website is live but because of the meetings you already had on your calendar you cannot get to the hot-fixes as fast as you would like.
- Lastly, I did not enjoy the journey of this project as much and got so focused on the end-goal of launching the website, that when the website finally did launch it was a bit anti-climatic. Try to enjoy the journey a bit more. The content you curate is a great way to help you sit back and reflect for how far you have come as a company.
I am sure I learned some other lessons, but those are the ones that come to mind. Good luck and I hope you don’t make the same mistakes I did!