Launching a website is a lot like making a soufflé. You need the right ingredients, the correct process, plan and some skill. Failure on any of these counts and the result is a flat mess that no one wants or likes. Unfortunately, unlike a botched soufflé, a failed website is a much more serious problem. The damage to a brand can range from ridicule to a big impact on its bottom line. With such high stakes it is surprising that so many companies and even governments fail to undertake some basic steps that can vastly reduce the risk of a website not living up to expectations.
The first step is research. With so much technology now available to help manage and run website projects, it is essential to make sure you choose the right partners. Research is key to understanding if your prospective partners are offering the most advanced or best in class technology. After all, there is nothing worse than launching your new website to find that your main competitor has a better site built at half the price.
After doing the appropriate due diligence, it’s essential to make sure everyone in the business is on the same page. One of the most common causes of a disappointing new website is the so-called ‘tunnel effect’. This is where, after the goals of a website are defined by the management team, there is insufficient oversight of the actual development process. Put simply, the website is handed over to a developer team who go about constructing the website over the course of up to eighteen months and in that time they lose sight of the management team’s original aims. By having even the most rudimentary process in place, such as regular update meetings between the management and developer teams and a sign off process at key milestones, the tunnel effect is removed as a problem.
Along with regular meetings, it is crucial to adopt a routine of testing the site at each stage of development so the business team can actually visualise their requirements. New technology is becoming available in the form of enterprise app stores that allow developers to work with business users in quick iterations and deliver results quickly. By tackling these problems as and when they occur, rather than after the site is completed, the chances of a disastrous flaw being exposed after the launch is vastly reduced.
Of course, the best way to avoid a botched website launch is not to launch a new site at all. By thinking of a website as a long-term investment and building it using a platform that has modules, templates and apps that can be updated separately, a site can become dynamic. This all but removes the need to undertake a risky or costly complete update to the site every few years as technology improves.
It would be wrong to say that building and launching a website is easy. Like the aforementioned soufflé there are simple steps that can be taken to maximise the chance of success. Following a well-thought out process and keeping a good eye on the whole development process can mitigate most problems. Like any good chef, it’s also very important to test things as you go along.