It’s exciting. You spend a lot of time and energy and cash setting up a shiny new website; you have re-launched from a customer perspective, you have a new look and feel, a new structure, new workflow software, and you are ready to go – this is going to be a great new asset for your business and all the effort will see a return in increased custom. You are proud of the work you have done and want everyone in your company and your customers to see what an improvement the site is and to thank you for it.
But then on launch afternoon, or the next day if you are lucky, someone will ask where their new product will fit in the new structure, or someone else will point out that you are missing a service that the company just recently started offering. And someone else will highlight a couple of minor errors on the site which weren’t picked up during pre-launch. You need to plan out new systems to support your post-launch activities to ensure you survive a new website launch.
While you might think of a website launch as the end of a process, unless you are ready and prepared for the day after the launch day, you will be setting yourself up for a few uncomfortable weeks and potentially damaging internal and external opinions as the new site beds in.
As part of a new launch, you will have new branding guidelines which will need on-going interpretation as new content emerges, you will have new content to add and launch issues to fix, and if you have implemented a new content management system which allows distributed authorship, you will have a bunch of newly trained people creating potential risk and quality dilution to the site.
It needn’t be like this, as an essential part of your pre-launch activity ought to be reviewing your website governance strategy, putting in place the appropriate level of training, processes and guidelines to ensure no-one is able to ‘break’ that new look and feel that you have lovingly created.
Answer these three critical questions as part of your post-launch plan, and things will run more smoothly:
1. How you will fix immediate errors? In the rush of a launch there will always be some, whether you are unaware of them or have decided to launch with a small number outstanding, and they will need fixing fast and accurately. A post-launch audit should be one of your first activities, to ensure these errors are captured, prioritised and actioned.
2. Who gets to publish and how much control do they have over the site, and who checks the quality? Even where a distributed publishing model is in place, checks pre-publication and also of the live site need to be made to ensure the site continues to meet quality standards.
3. How will you prioritise and manage demand for future change? Setting up an on-going site governance structure with clear criteria and goals will add transparency to your site development programme.
If you can answer these questions with confidence, then post-launch you will feel more in control of your new site and can go on to concentrate on the equally important tasks of site promotion and publicity, knowing that you have robust systems in place to ensure that your shiny new site continues to grow untarnished.
Even if you don’t have a new website launch, your online activities might benefit from a structured governance framework. I have put these in place for a number of large and smaller companies, get in touch if you would like to hear more.