Launching a New Website – Checklist

Launching a New Website – Checklist

At some point in a company’s life it’s time to relaunch the website! The catalyst is often the need to reposition the brand to tell a stronger more relevant story, but it could be a move to quantum leap exposure in the marketplace 12 months ahead of an IPO or a sale. It might be necessary because of a merger. Whatever the reason, your website is your message to the world. It defines your positioning, it attracts more relevant prospects, it adds credibility to your promises, it defines your culture, it attracts talent to your company and of course it supports the pride your employees have in your business. Remarkable story telling has never been more important in today’s noisy, verbose, digital content landscape. This checklist will help you manage the relaunch of your website, avoid costly overruns and ensure the new site showcases compelling reasons, for the right customers, to do business with you.
The checklist assumes you have chosen an external partner/agency to work with.

CHECKLIST (Listed mostly in Chronological Order)

Preparation Work

  1. Does your positioning statement reflect who you want to be? A website is merely a digital distribution mechanism for your value proposition. If your positioning is out of date, fix it (Much more here if you need help).

Every website is a collection of between 100 and 10,000 landing pages. Everything you produce is a landing page. So you need to think as early as possible about the “flatplan” of the pages as if you were publishing a magazine. In creating landing pages consider:

  1. Who is the web site designed for and do we need more than one?
  2. If I am a prospect, what the 3 most obvious questions I want answered quickly and can I?
  3. All product and service pages must be careful to spell out the challenges that customers face, your solution and value proposition to address that challenge. Technical specs and features can be handled with downloadable spec sheets instead of cluttering your story telling.
  4. Consider educating your audience by describing key processes that build your credibility
  5. All landing pages need to be written with SEO success in mind.
  6. Do I have a compelling website for prospective job candidates?
  7. Do I require a paywall to cover online training type resources?
  8. How will you handle Case Studies, videos, news items, knowledge centers?
  9. Video platforms are changing fast, so it’s worth consider your strategy for video as a separate discussion. YouTube channels, Vimeo, Brightcove etc.
  10. Who is going to appear on the website in addition to the HQ leadership team? Consider looking through the lens of the customer.
  11. Avoid long pieces of text by using sub menus to hide details that may not be relevant to all prospects.
  12. The Home page is unreasonably important – you must clearly identify why, how and what you do on that page. Videos are powerful and create interest on home pages, drawing the reader in to explore more.
  13. Keep humanity high on the agenda and don’t be succumbed by corporate speak. Write as if you’re talking to someone.
  14. Grab this opportunity to write much stronger stories to reflect the mission and purpose of today’s business.
  15. Landing pages work on tablets and phones not just desktops?
  16. List all landing pages required and who is going to write each one and who the edit team is. This needs a granular approach to project management!
  17. Finally appoint an overall editor (who could be the project manager) to review all content for consistency of voice.

Navigation

  1. What do you want the target audience to do when they arrive at your home page and can they?
  2. If I arrive on your site, no matter what the page, can I get to home with one click or go to where I wanted to go using a search box?
  3. If I read your home page, your about page and a few blogs, do I understand the key principles that this company stands for? Is there a story worth telling?
  4. If I doubt the credibility of your company, does the web site address in detail your success stories with one click access?
  5. Can I find the leadership team driving the company and with sufficient detail to understand their quality?
  6. Does the mobile version work for all of the above? (Hint mobile websites are not smaller versions of your desktop website)

Migration Issues

  1. If you are using old text from your existing site, ensure the data is cleaned up and you are clear where it is mapping to.
  2. Be careful that links are still working after migration.
  3. Check out compatibility of your CMS with the new one.
  4. Consider strategies regarding re-directs from the old site.
  5. Be sure to check how the new site looks and operates in the sandbox before going live.

Maintenance

  1. Editing your new website should be as easy as editing a word document. You shouldn’t be compelled to bring in consultants every time you want to add a new landing page.
  2. Consider ongoing needs from your new website regarding blog and newsletter automated emails systems. Does the new site need to be compatible with Constant Contact?
  3. Build SEO strategies into the design of all landing pages as you build it. This can’t wait until the website goes live.
  4. Ensure you have set up the links to your CRM system. Salesforce for example has insightful metrics based on visitor behavior to your website.
  5. Build social media links to make it easy to share your content. This will be an ongoing requirement of the new website.

Budget & Timetable

  1. Be careful to allocate resources internally to police the external agency work.
  2. Small delays in each part of the process can add up quickly and before you know it your late and over budget.
  3. In my experience content production and editing aren’t prioritized by senior management because they claim they have a business to run. Be aware of this danger and plan accordingly.
  4. Appoint an internal project leader on this huge project who has the personalty and temperament to herd cats and make timely decisions!

New websites are a phenomenal opportunity to explain why you have remarkable solutions to solve real customer challenges. Don’t blow it!

The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) is an operational consultancy that scales businesses organically and by acquisition. All of our work has two common themes, we deploy our services through a Fractional C-Suite model using our successful tools and process that we know work. Our selection of clients is based on the ambition, openness and humility of the management team and rarely the sector. Ian@TPPBoston.com.

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