Last year I started feeling like our website was looking outdated. I've been having updates done on it to keep it current for content but it has gradually degraded and now reached the point where a rebuild was necessary.
It all started with a conversation I had with a colleague. It was about redesigning our agency website and I had confessed that I began last year and gave up...twice...I said it was too big...then she gave me a funny look...then I thought, well that was lame.
It was lame. As a web designer I preach the importance of a modern well designed website and here I am doing exactly what others do when discussing. When I ask how they feel about their website I get mostly "It's OK" or "It needs some love".
Yet they put so much into their businesses and it doesn't reflect their work. Our work is not just OK. Our work is awesome and modern and beneficial to our clients.
I also thought, here I am going to the Q4 Live conference to talk about web design and mine sucks.
So after two failed attempts at redesigning my website I began again from the start.
Third Time's a Charm
I actually gave up twice before starting again from scratch. Technical issues, lack of time, distractions, growing pains, you name it, I had an excuse for it.
My own design review still came up with the same design I chose last year. My thoughts were fresh, bright, and bold, with a modern look and feel. I also had some other ideas regarding products and services I wanted to implement.
At first glance it may not look like much work. My idea was to develop more pages for expanded services. We are also selling digital products so I built an ecommerce store for purchasing. I've refreshed my brand away from internet marketing and optimizing keywords for more current terms like digital marketing. There's a ton under the hood and much more coming in the areas of learning management systems, app engineering, and company intranets.
By having ecommerce on the website it shortens the time from ready to buy, to how to purchase. Customers can simply click and purchase to start their onboarding. Makes sense huh?
That's how it all started. After over 100 hours in the last two months and a final push this week we were able to finally push the new website live yesterday.
Preparing for launching is extremely stressful filled with long days of refinements and a push to meet our deadline. It's always hard for some reason, it's just the nature of the beast. Web design is about continually refining until we reach a point were only two requirements are met:
- The new website is better than the live site
- The information is accurate
We use Growth Driven Design principals to get to this stage. Instead of constantly refining and extending the launch months or even a year we create a launch pad website and make refinements ongoing.
Don't polish the silverware while the doors remain closed
This is a common term I like to use to describe clients who continually refine and delay launch. Sometime we are our own worst enemy and many times it is reflected here.
Once we feel ready, we push live and hold our breath.
You'd think after over 12 years we'd have this down so nothing goes wrong after going live. Well I have news for you, it rarely happens. Maybe with small websites but with a business class website it almost never does.
In our case there were a bunch of issues. The home page banner animation didn't load any images (there were over 30) which had to be rebuilt by hand. It took half a day just fixing all the obvious issues before going into post launch tasks.
Our post launch task list has grown and keeps growing. Here's just a bullet list of the major things we do:
- 301 redirects from old URL's to the new ones
- Performance engineering
- Adding Google Analytics
- Set up Search Console and submit sitemaps
- Integrating with Hubspot
- Integrating with Google Maps
- Checking every page and hyperlink
- Optimizing every page for SEO
- Creating metadata descriptions for every page
More advanced functions to be done:
- Advanced performance
- Advanced SEO
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Most think that once your new website is launched our work is done. That's the most fundamental error in thinking in terms of digital marketing. Once the website is launched our work is just beginning!
Your new website is the core and best tool to attract new clients and customers. It's where prospects end up when evaluating your business. To get the most out of your efforts we want to continually improve over time. Testing, evaluating, retooling, and refining, are ongoing and should never stop.
Let us know what you think, and if you see a problem or way to improve please let us know.
Rest, Then Get Going
So we can bask in the glow of our great work launching our new website and receive accolades and high fives on our success, for a bit. We'll take a break over the weekend and contemplate our next steps. Then come Monday, we'll begin.