You see how bummed out this kid is? Well he just spent the last 3 minutes trying to use a website that completely sucked. So let’s say you’re about to launch a new site. You’ve got a great idea, and best of all, you think other people are going to be interested. However, in order to thrive, you’ve got to ask yourself the single most important question of your entire life… is my website going to suck?
Before you launch, check a few of these 4+ items off the list. Here are a few steps to successfully launch your website:
1. Identify Your Customer—And Stay Totally Focused
Have you ever noticed that no matter how big the internet gets, it seems like every general-interest site shares the same news headlines and viral video clips? It’s no accident, it’s built into the economics of internet use as sites with broad audiences compete for limited ad revenue. Regardless of a site’s brand identity, unless it stays zeroed-in on its area of expertise, it’s going to lose focus. If a site is trying to be all things to all people, it’s going to end up getting lost in the noise.
If your site is going to not only launch successfully, but grow its traffic and attract an ever-widening audience—in short, not suck—you need to know your audience and stay focused on providing what they’re there for. In this way, there’s actually an advantage to not being the very first site doing something. You can learn from the shortcomings of other sites, filling in the gaps that leave customers dissatisfied with your competitors.
2. Know What Users Expect
Even though there’s a benefit to not being the first person to tackle a niche market, there’s no benefit to being a user experience laggard. Set yourself up for success by knowing what expectations users have and building accordingly. Otherwise, you may find your site designed according to outdated trends that should’ve gotten dragged to the trash bin icon in the sky.
For instance, web users expect sites to load in 3 seconds or less. As of a couple years ago, the average loading time of the web’s top 1000 sites, as ranked by Alexa, is less than 10 seconds. This is the sort of data that should inform your decision about whether or not to greet visitors with a Flash intro. Similarly, a study from last year proved that ads and lead-generation forms are getting more intrusive. Don’t get the “tab closed; didn’t read” treatment—know what experience your users require, and plan accordingly.
3. Have Content Ready At The Beginning
Have a lot ready to go from the jump. If you hit the jackpot and go viral, new visitors are going to want to see what you’re all about. This means that even at launch, you should have an easily navigable site with clearly organized content, as well as diverse content. For every white paper you have, you should also have some short-and-sweet blog posts, so that there’s something for casual visitors as well as the more in depth visitor.
And don’t scrimp on the About page. Every brand has a story, and prospective customers will want to know yours. It doesn’t have to be a whole story with a three-act structure, but painting a better picture in the visitor’s mind is a cornerstone for building trust.
4+. Test, Proofread, and Have All Your Platforms Ready!
So you’ve got the big-picture figured out. Before you launch, you should check each page and click each link, to make sure that everything about your site will do what you want it to do. We once had to spend 10 painstaking hours in order to find and fix a line of code—but once it was troubleshooted, users could sign up for a newsletter correctly. It was worth it!
Proofread all your posts, since spelling and syntax mistakes inevitably creep in the more words you’ve written. Submit your site to search engines so that it’s indexed for visitors to find. Finally, make sure that all your social media platforms are connected and ready to send traffic to your site. Word-of-mouth-marketing is invaluable, so you want to be ready for any online discussion.
These are the best basic steps to making sure that your site has a fighting chance of growing and thriving. Are there any more surefire steps to ensuring a new site doesn’t suck? Let us know in the comments below.