Launching a new website is exciting, however, getting caught up in that excitement can cause you to make a number of rookie mistakes along the way. Having a great website is critical to success, especially when you consider that 48% of people cited a website’s design as the No. 1 factor in deciding the credibility of a business.
With that in mind, web design experts identify nine common website launch mistakes — and how you can avoid them.
1. Get SEO Right Early on
"Having strong SEO is the only way your site will ever be organically found on the web," stated Holly Morse, senior interactive designer at The S3 Agency.
You need to focus on onpage SEO tactics like targeting keywords and optimizing content, and offpage tactics like backlinking and social engagement. "In addition to increased traffic," explained Morse, "having solid SEO will also naturally increase the user experience on your site, which is always the end goal."
2. Set Up Analytics
Don't forget to set up your analytics tools ahead of time to capture as much data as possible.
"Setting up analytics is the only way to learn more about your end user, track and measure your website's success, and, more importantly, learn what can be improved," Morse said. You don't want to wait until it's too late, so you should at least integrate with free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console at the start.
3. Test the UI and Navigation
You want your site to have a simple design and be straightforward to navigate. "You don't need to spell out every single service that you offer," suggested Russell, "but rather tell your story, show what you offer and discuss how you can solve your visitor's pain points." In addition, you need to make sure your website works well for mobile devices. Having a mobile-friendly website is critical, not just for users, but for Google and other search engines.
4. Ensure Proper SSL Configuration
You need to set up an SSL certificate in advance and test it before your official launch date. "Failure to properly configure SSL security leads to several problems, such as broken urls when visiting the website securely (https) and non-securely (http), security warnings flashed on visitor screens and lower rankings by Google and other search engines," said Russell. Users will be hesitant to visit your site if there's security warnings, bad links, or they don’t trust that you’ll keep their information safe.
5. Make it Easy to Get in Touch
Many websites fail to make contact information easy to find. "In today's digital age there are plenty of tools to help manage contacts through chatbots, CRM systems, etc," explained Russell. You don’t want to make it difficult for your visitors to get their questions answered because curious visitors could become paying customers in the future.
6. Got a Call to Action?
You want your audience to know exactly what to do next with a clear call to action. "These actions should flow naturally both in terms of how the user would want to interact with the site and how you want to guide them toward the site's ultimate business goals," explained Morse. Having a clear CTA is crucial for an effective digital marketing strategy and getting visitors to start moving through your sales funnel.
7. Don’t Get Hasty Leading Up to Launch Day
"Of course, you're excited that you just finished designing and developing your website and you want to show it to the world," joked Morse. But you need to review your website before it goes live. From a usability perspective, this means checking for broken links and making sure important functionality works as expected. From a design perspective, this means ensuring that styles and fonts look consistent, especially if you've built the site from scratch. The worst thing you can do is rush into launching a website, and getting poor feedback from early site visitors.
8. Choose Your Launch Date Wisely
Don't launch your website during potentially busy times. "While this may sound like a great idea and the perfect way to kick off the weekend or promote a sale before a holiday, you are setting yourself up for potential trouble," said Morse. Even with sufficient testing, problems always occur, and you don't want to have a poor reputation right from the start.
9. Check Content Quality Now and Always
You don't want to re-publish unoriginal or boring content. To stand out, you need to ensure your content is original, relevant and up to date.
"By creating your own content you'll be able to speak more meaningfully to your niche and drive the types of visitors to your site that you want," explained Samantha Russell, chief marketing & business development officer at Twenty Over Ten. High-quality content is crucial to a successful website launch and building brand awareness.
"You have awesome content to kick off your site — but it shouldn't end there," said Morse, implying that every brand should focus on the consistent publication of content.
Post-launch, you’ll want to gauge your audience’s take on your new site, so don’t forget to launch a voice of the customer campaign to keep your consumers and website visitors in the loop.