Embrace Your Website and Everything It Brings To Your Image
So you are in the midst of your re-design for your company’s website and you need direction on how to get the most productivity and effective processes to ensure a successful project. Continuing on from Tuesday, we are moving into the interview, pre-design and development to post launch phases of your project. Keeping on task is very important and even in some instances, going three steps forward and one step back isn’t a bad situation, as long as continual progression of the project is moving there is no right or wrong path – unless you are moving no where.
Interview & Pre-Design
Step 6: Interviewing Prospective Designers
Now if you are a company that has an onsite employee building this for you, then you have it a little easier. They know your business and you have unlimited access to them. If you are the other percentage who have to hire the website out to a web development firm, then this will be invaluable information for you to retain.
Assign this to two people minimum but more if your project calls for it. Call and talk to a few different website development firms and ask them the following:
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have a reference list available?
- Location isn’t important these days so this is mute question, especially if you used Google to find them
- Do they do all of the work in-house or sub-contract it out? In-house work is the best way to follow less delays and complications can occur
- Will you have a central contact / project manager?
- Is the site easy to edit yourselves and is there training included?
- Who will insert all of the website pictures and information initially?
- Do they provide mockups or idea boards for the project with color choices?
- Ask their design process and revisions process, everyone is different, but the basic idea is to get a proof design first then build it out after customer approval
- Will the website be mobile friendly/responsive?
- How long is their waiting list currently? Most designers will be able to start within a couple weeks or less.
- Do they offer content writing services and logo design if you want your logo updated?
- What is all included in the cost?
- Is this a templated design or custom design? You want to stand out from the crowd with a unique design
- Do they offer search engine optimization services? What is that cost?
- Do you offer hosting and email services? What is the cost? Most companies will offer hosting but there are a few that don’t, so better be safe than sorry and plan ahead
- What kind of customer support is available? Is it free or paid service?
- Does the company provide a back-up service and what is included, and how often is it backed-up?
Discuss your findings at the weekly meeting to see which two you will set an appointment with to meet the team and make sure you are a good fit to work together. If location is an issue don’t put it aside, setup a video meeting, it is still an effective way to meet the team of people who you will be working with. The more you are vested in the project the better it will turn out.
Design & Development Process
Step 7: Proof It’s Done (well sort of)
Now is the time that you will want to provide the contacts for the specific phases of the project to your development team you hired for your website development. Each phase should have one point of contact – even if it is the same the entire project – list it for them.
So now you are ready for the design. You’ve met with your designer and went over your team’s research and analysis and are awaiting your first proof for the design.
- Design team will mock up a few designs and after the proof is delivered
- Don’t be shy, make changes as needed at your weekly meeting with the team
- Obtain another proof and do this until you have an approved proof to work with and build out, because once this is done, it could add more money to make changes later
Now the developers will build out your pages, by now you should have been told to start gathering information!
- images (make sure they are the right size and resolution for the design)
- videos (what platforms will you utilize and do you need to create an account?)
- content (schedules, calendars, staff information, blog posts, ect.)
- and text for the website (new or old content re-organized for the new site)
So, when the pages are ready the developer can keep momentum going and build out the pages.
Your developer should have provided you with a link to watch development as it happens, but don’t fall into the spell of watching minute by minute, it will drive you crazy, let them do their work and check in periodically. But this advantage helps to keep everyone on tract and keep accountability in order.
You should be meeting frequently with your developer to continue adding content until the project is finished.
Step 8: …..3, 2, 1 Blast off
Race for the Finish: Pre-Launch
Even if your developer has ensured on his end these are done, it’s always a good idea to have a second pair of eyes on these elements to make sure launch day goes off without a hitch, plus gives you the peace of mind.
- Domain is purchased and setup
- Check site display in new location when moved to launch server
- Make sure all dummy text is replaced
- Site is proof-read and content is formatted properly
- Ensure the search engine optimization and submission is complete if applicable to your services
- No broken images or videos
- If you are setting up your own perma-links, check to make sure they work properly
- No broken links and all links are checked for direction to proper pages and websites
- Cross browser compatibility is checked
- Mobile responsiveness is tested
- 404 Errors and 301 re-directions for old pages are setup
- Forms on the website are tested and email to the accurate individuals.
- Ensure that your Google Analytics code snippet is installed
- and Webmaster Tools have been verified
- Subscription and newsletter signup forms work properly
- Social platform links are setup and are linked to the correct url’s
- Ensure initial search optimization is in the site, even if it will change next month it’s a start
IT’S FINALLY LAUNCH DAY
Launch day is an exciting day for many, the development team, the company and the employees. Everyone has put hours and hours to making this website the best it can be and everyone wants to make sure it goes off without a hitch. Here are a few items to check off and make sure are done and ready when you push it out.
For the development team:
- Point domain to new directory – DNS/MX records are all pointed in the right direction
- Copy site data and database to the new location for launch – make sure to text plugins, apps and other applications to ensure working properly
- Email addresses are created and tested on client side
- Delete old and unneeded files, databases and sub-domains
- Setup user accounts for client.
- Update your admin password for security
- Enable the sitemap on the site if not already done
- Make sure the site is crawlable for the search engines
For the company, here are a few tips to remember.
- Developers are not God, they can’t ensure 100% of issues are resolved until the site goes live and tested.
- Have patience when the developers are launching the website, sometime the procurement of the files can take 15 minutes to a few hours to push live for the first time.
- Plan to launch on a Friday, where there is less traffic on a weekend, and you can work out kinks easier without a lot of traffic to interfere.
- Make sure you aren’t near any large events or holidays where traffic could be more substantial, again to make sure you can work through any kinks and issues without the public audience.
- Social platform posts are ready to announce your launch – but don’t schedule those out for the day of the launch! Normally you will want to wait 7-10 days to make sure all is well with the site and it’s been tested properly.
Sit back and relax. Enjoy the product of your hard work.
For the development team:
- Setup a backup solution
- Verify backups are working
- Install Anti spam solution
- Implement login protection and test
- Compile documentation (domain renewal, database, logins, passwords, ftp credentials, c panel information, plugins renewal, ect)
- Update portfolio
- Transfer site payments to client unless you are managing them
For the company:
- Prepare weekly articles for your blog, line up guest posts
- Find interesting topics and memes to support your marketing and website launch.
- Prepare weekly/daily posts for your social platforms
- Watch your analytics courtesy of Google and Bing, see your audiences activity and engagement
- The first month is pretty shot for seo efforts due to testing and launching your statistics will be high and variable from the launch. Month two has a better grasp of your audience and their activity
- Put a SEO/SEM campaign together
You have made it through the long journey of your new website re-design!
When working with a development company, just keep in mind that we can’t predict technological advances, but we can keep up with buzzing of possible new innovations, while planning a strategy so that when a new technology does arise, we can transition with ease and excitement. That is our business, leading design, top of the industry software design, and of course superior custom programming, and that makes us the best at what we do. It is our business to be flexible and focus on our clients with assurance and anticipation.