How much time should I plan to invest in my website? - Part 3 of 3: time invested after the launch

How much time should I plan to invest in my website? - Part 3 of 3: time invested after the launch

30 Oct

Author : Brad Muncs, Categories : Maintenance, Web Site Development

Lift Off

As explained in my previous articles before the project and during the project, making sure your web project is a success starts before you select an agency and continues after launch.

This series of articles aims to help mentally prepare anyone who is planning to redesign their existing website or create a new online presence.

 

 

Time you need to plan between signature and launch

There are three moments in your web project's life to plan for:

This article will focus on the third of those three moments: the time required by clients between the official launch of the deliverables and beyond.

Steps following your web project’s launch

You website or web application just launched! Congratulations!

But its life doesn’t end there. It’s the birth of your new baby, and now you have to nurture it, help it evolve, and bring it to maturity. Here are the main milestones to prepare for in the weeks after launch.

Spread the word: Send out external communications to your clients and users

If you followed the steps just before launch, you will have your external communications ready. This might include a press release, a newsletter, social media posts, or any other types of ways to notify those who visit and use your website that it has a new look and new functionalities. If you already did your homework as described, all you need to do now is share the good news!

Project review with your web partner (post-mortem)

While we hope bringing your project to fruition was a positive adventure, it’s important to plan a project review after launch with all team members, and if possible most stakeholders. This meeting focuses on the strengths and opportunities for improvement that were identified during the project’s production.

The goal is to identify action items in order to continually improve the process. Since your website’s launch is just the beginning of your online adventure, it’s important to plan how everyone involved can better work together in the future.

Satisfaction survey

A few weeks after the project review meeting, Symetris likes to get in touch with clients to evaluate their experience with our team. This quick questionnaire (about 10 questions) focuses on high-level aspects such as overall quality and rates them on a scale of 1 to 10.

This is especially helpful if certain aspects of the mandate didn’t go as planned: we can address the impact of certain issues and help focus our attention when improving our approach.

Internal tutorials

While our team will have taken the time to teach key website administrators how to manage their content and users, you might have to schedule tutorial meetings with other people in your team with more limited involvement in the website.

Website user guides are usually divided into chapters by user role, which means that you can easily extract just the pages specific to certain actions.

Collect post-launch feedback to send to the web team

In the few months after launch, Symetris offers a guarantee that covers the correction of bugs that might be only identified once the website gets used “in the wild” (as opposed to the controlled environment before launch).

It’s important to identify and document any issues and send them to your web partner to correct them as soon as possible to make your visitors’ experience the best it can be.

Ongoing work

Content updates

The vast majority of websites are built upon a content management system. This allows clients to update their own website without having to call upon their web partner. And updating your website’s content regularly is an important responsibility. It could be press releases or news items, blog articles, products, staff, events or just maintaining the website’s existing content to keep it fresh. Make sure to plan some time regularly (ie: at least once every two weeks) to update your website’s content.

Website maintenance

The same way you need to maintain your car or your home to ensure their durability, it’s important to maintain your website. At Symetris, we offer a “prevention plan” to our clients where we make sure all the website’s modules and features are up to date, and install security updates as well.

Promotion

Building your website does not automatically guarantee that it will be visited by your ideal clients and users. You need to set up a promotional campaign to get more visitors (search engine optimization, search engine marketing, content strategy, etc.). There are lots of possibilities, and a web marketing firm can definitely help you with this part of the equation.

If you’re building a web application, intranet or extranet for internal use, then marketing the new tool is focused on explaining the new features to the existing users.

Gather feedback & data

While installing a statistics tool like Google Analytics is essential to follow your visits, more advanced interaction logs can be programmed into your new web platform. While this data is really useful to make decisions for future website enhancements or fixes, surveying your users and visitors directly can help you gain insight that is not available by tracking clicks.

Maintain a backlog of interesting suggestions

All kinds of ideas will be suggested regarding your website that will come from many different sources (internal staff, user surveys, your web partner, etc.). You should keep a prioritized backlog of all of these suggestions to set your plan for future enhancements.

Future enhancements

Define next steps (phases)

Your initial strategic objective might have been only partly achieved with the first version of your web platform. In this case, you already have a pretty clear idea of what needs to be done next.

Another source of inspiration is your backlog of suggestions (see previous item). By grouping these together by priority, you can define the future phases of your web project to keep it moving forward and relevant to your users.

Plan ahead: Create a 2-3 year plan for your website

You website can become a very important asset to your company’s communications, logistics, staff and workflow. For this reason, it needs to be closely aligned with your organization’s strategic objectives. Future enhancements need to be planned to roll out when they are needed the most. They should also anticipate required functionalities that would help your internal team as much as your clients.

For example, if you’re planning on integrating a new CRM (Client Relationship Management) software, linking it with the website when it’s put into place is important to plan in your calendar. Features like e-commerce will also impact internal staff (such as accounting), and their workflows need to be analyzed and adapted to make sure that an upcoming feature in the website doesn’t become a headache for other members of your team.

Incremental enhancements

It’s a good idea to approach new features as incremental enhancements. The website should be built on a good foundation that is future-friendly, stable, secure and flexible. Instead of creating new mega-features, why not divide them into bite-sized chunks that can be quickly launched.

By launching features progressively, you can gather live data on their usage and feedback on your user’s satisfaction with them. You can then adjust your priorities based on this information instead of building a large feature that goes unused because it doesn’t solve one of your visitors’ needs.

This is an “agile” approach to launching new features: launch fast, then adapt to feedback.

Conclusion: Your website’s launch is just the beginning of a beautiful online adventure!

While there is a lot of work involved in finding a web partner and getting through the process of launching a new website or web application, your website’s life doesn’t end at launch: it’s just the beginning!

Be sure to consider your website’s future and plan to invest time and money in updating, maintaining and enhancing it throughout its life – your users will be thankful you did!

Tags : cms, site launch, website

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