Paul Hanrahan
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Our website is one year old. We take a look back on our experience over the past year and provide tips on how best to launch your new website.

One year on

On Wednesday 14 March 2018, we celebrated the first birthday of our website. We can’t really call it our new website any more, in fact – in website years it’s probably about 55. To celebrate this milestone in the most geekiest web-marketer way ever, here is a little reflection piece into what we learned over the year.

What’s the plan, Stan?

When you launch a new website, it takes months and months of meticulous planning. Providing a clear brief and a checklist with prioritisation of what is essential during the website tender process will help no end. When it comes to the launch, ensure you have ticked off as much as possible off that checklist, particularly when it comes to essential features.

Despite all of your efforts, there will be things that you planned for that won’t be 100% perfect. Being okay about that is what will get you through the nerve-wracking launch process. The beauty of a new website is you can continuously and quickly improve it.

Going in the right direction

No-one likes finding a broken link on a site, particularly if there is no guidance about what happened to the page you wanted to view. If you are not transferring content from the old site, make sure that you have an appropriate redirect plan. Give people a clear outline of where they go next instead to ensure that you keep your site higher up the search rankings. Losing visits from redirects can be damaging. Being on page one of Google search – good. Being on page 14 – wait… there’s a page two?

Redirect. Don’t lose potential visits to your site from the old version.

Don’t analyse everything – just the right things

Web and social analytics are great. They help us to really get a grasp of how well our website is performing. Having a clear idea of the objectives of your website helps you choose the measures you want to achieve. My go-to for analysing metrics is the navigation summary in the behaviour section on Google Analytics. Knowing where people go next helps to understand the visitor journey. We report on web analytics on a weekly basis as a team, which informs our content and marketing strategy. You can set up goals and campaigns to fully understand the audience journey straight through to purchase. There are tools to record in real-time the actions that people take on your site. It’s kind of scary but really interesting too.

You can easily get lost in the metrics, so keep your cool and measure what matters.

Free marketing and research advice:

  • Data to understand what’s unique about Scotland’s audiences.
  • The groups you’re missing and methods to bring in more people like the ones you already have.
  • Marketing messages that speak to the right people, at the right time.
  • Reaching the people who would love what you do - if only they knew about it.
  • The tools, trends and resources that will help you along the way.

Get complimentary advice

No Stress CMS – What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) type editing

I don’t know code. I don’t want to know code – it’s really not my thing. I still want to be able to put buttons, Call to Actions and cool designs into each page of my site and change them without having to bother someone who does know code. Having an editor that gives you a simple way to manage the web content is essential. Having the ability to see what will go live on the site ahead of time with a simple user experience is great. We can change things quickly and easily without annoying our developer.

Managing web content is not about copying and pasting for new posts. It’s being prepared to understand the actions people take on pages and using design to keep traffic on the site or take an action (like book a ticket).

Testing doesn’t have to be testing

Change up the Call to Actions on each page and see which ones are getting the most enquiries. Play with your palate colours, the copy you use (ask a question, encourage an action) and the buttons that direct people to make an action. How does it look on mobile? How can you make it fun? There are lots of important questions.

If you don’t try, you don’t know if it would be any good after all. Never assume that one message works for everyone. We are all different.

Grow with it

Launching a new website doesn’t stop once it’s launched. Take steps to ensure that the website grows with you. It’s like a plant. Just don’t pour water on it.

Main image credit: Rocket Launch Sequence by Randy Merrill (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Shared under the same licence.