How Not to Launch a New Website
Have you seen the new 9clouds.com? As you may have noticed, we have a streamlined interface and a new logo to go with it!
But that’s not why I’m here.
Most creative directors would take this time to brag about their new digital hub. They could also give you some spin on how compelling their blog subscription is, why they updated to a sleek new logo, or how paradigm-shifting their free eBooks are.
I could even step onto a soapbox and tell you about how our content strategy is so much better than everyone else’s — as if you don’t get enough self-important advice from digital vendors.
I’m not that guy.
I’m going to be straight with you: our website project was tough. It took an incredible amount of forethought and coordination. We strategized, planned, wrote, rewrote, designed, and published exactly what we wanted.
The excitement of having a new digital home has allowed us to remain positive throughout the whole thing. With a few key ingredients, your next website project can be even better than ours.
But for the sake of fun, here are some practical ways to sabotage your website project, presented in no particular order.
Don’t Gather Ideas Early and Often
Despite my last-minute appeal, we did not install a dinosaur video game on our 404 page. Whether or not it was a great idea for our site, it failed spectacularly because it was suggested annoyingly close to our launch date.
We had a great plan, but better ideas also fell uncomfortably near our deadline.
Any manager (especially mine) can tell you the frustration that comes from last-minute ideas. That’s why it’s important to ask your entire team frequently and often for ideas on your site — even if it’s not in production. If you invite ideas early enough, and with the expectation that not all the ideas will make the cut, you allow yourself some time to record and weave more creative magic into the final product.
Website strategy requires a trustworthy plan, which requires absurd amounts of planning.
Jeff Polzer, who teaches organizational behavior at Harvard, has some sound advice for teams that need to accomplish a big task with a hard deadline. He encourages vulnerability for complex multi-person endeavors (like a website launch):
“Being vulnerable gets the static out of the way and lets us do the job together, without worrying or hesitating. . . . Cooperation does not simply descend out of the blue. It is a group muscle that is built according to a pattern of repeated interaction.”— Jeff Polzer, vulnerability researcher
In short: be comfortable with getting all your ideas out on the table before you go into production. Vulnerability plays a big part in our work at 9 Clouds, and it’s especially important when building a new website.
Bold approaches don’t come easily, but they come easier when they’re refined — which takes both time and the right kind of open environment. Whether it’s because you’re busy or because you don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable with your crew, encourage your team to write down their ideas so you can bring them to the table at the appropriate time.
Be Very Afraid to Update Your Brand at the Same Time
As long as we were overhauling the most important digital asset at our company, we decided it was also time to update our logo.
Although a new logo was never mission critical, our team wanted the fresh visual identity to be baked into the feel of our site. It helped that our website vendor happened to also be very talented at graphic design.
Changing our visual identity along with redesigning our website was a unique challenge. Despite adding time to our creative workload, doing both a rebrand and a website project in one sweep allowed us to start fresh and make a strong impression for first-time visitors.
Even though a logo redesign can happen outside of a website project, doing them concurrently allows a team to have an open dialogue about the visual aspects of the website. For example, Smashing Magazine, a leader in web design and branding online, notes how teams can functionally add “mood board” discussions within the context of a website project:
“The value of an established visual identity or brand in the creation of a quality website cannot be overstated. Small businesses often dive in to website creation without paying any attention to branding. Suffice to say, if you do not at least have a professionally designed logo, you have not established a brand.”— Smashing Magazine
With this advice in mind, our crew imparted not only the direction for the new logo, but also how we wanted the colors and fonts to be used on the new site.
It would have been easy to procrastinate, but I’m glad we decided to get a new logo with our website. I feel as though “ripping off the Band-Aid” is the right approach for any business that needs both a new logo and a new site.
Confuse Your Crew
It was immensely helpful for our team to agree upon the division of roles for the new site. By design, our team is set up so that we each provide value in unique ways. This structure translated well to the various aspects of our website project:
- Project management
- Content strategy
- Drafting and editing
- Design and implementation
- Technical optimization
For this website project, having a clear list of responsibilities allowed us to stay focused and also gave us the levity to jump between tasks without stepping on toes or recreating wheels.
Another intrinsic benefit of clearly defining the roles of your web team is that it also allows you to grow your site over the long term post-launch. As diffily.com notes:
“[As] a site grows in scale, these activities grow in granularity and sophistication — which means that more people (with specialised skills) must be hired to cope.”— Shane Diffily
Plus, with more hands involved in shaping the website, we’re all allowed to take at least some credit for its performance. We’ve each invested time, so we can reap the rewards as a whole.
We Want to Know About Your Digital Endeavors
The websites, posts, and ideas 9 Clouds puts into the world make me proud, and we have the tips and tricks to make you digitally proud too.
We have a whole library of free resources to help your business send traffic to your website (even if it’s not new like ours).
We can also tell you if you do need a new website with a free digital checkup. Request one today!