Launching a new website can be an exciting, nervous and sometimes stressful experience. For new businesses, you have the potential that a new website can bring, and for existing businesses, a new website can give you a much needed facelift and offer new functionality to users.
However, there are a lot of factors that go into launching a new website that go on behind the scenes. From time to time, we get asked what is involved in launching a new website. Here is an introduction to the process:
1. Test, test, test
When working on a new website, we will always set up and use a bespoke testing area which is separate to your main website’s address. This allows us to work on the new website away from your current web address.
This test address is where you will preview your new website, and where we will continue to tweak and test things until you’re happy to go live. The demo of your new website is the perfect place to spot any missing links, typos or incorrect images etc.
Our testing process is continually improving and expanding due to the increasing number of devices, such as tablets and smartphones, that we test our websites upon. Read more about our responsive design process.
2. Search engine content & redirects
When launching a new website, we always ensure that on-page SEO content such as page titles and meta descriptions are imported from your old website. Although this doesn’t guarantee consistency in rankings between your current website and your new one, it is good practise and helps search engines maintain an understanding of what your pages are about.
Chances are the structure of your new website will be different to that of your current one. To ensure that users and the search engines do not get lost when trying to reach older pages which may no longer exist, we set up a redirect document which automatically takes someone to a new page if the old version has been removed. Not doing this can cause frustration to users and sometimes lead to a drop in your search engine rankings.
3. Third party services
If you have any third party services present on the website such as Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools, we ensure these are taken over to your website so you do not see any loss in tracking etc.
4. Backing up
Although your new website is ready to go live, we shouldn’t simply throw away your old one. It is sometimes useful to look back and see how your old website approached certain things. With this in mind, we back up your current website and any related files such as databases etc. This is also a useful fall back in case of any major issues with your new website.
5. Uploading your new website
When the time comes to launch your new website, we can begin uploading the files to your server. If you don’t have an existing website, we can simply launch the website as soon as your files are in place on your hosting environment.
If you have an existing website, the chances are there will be a degree of downtime associated with this process, as we are removing your current website and replacing it with your new one. Depending on the size of your new website, there are a number of ways that we can approach this:
a) Backup & upload
For smaller websites, which do not consist of large files that could take a long time to upload, we can simply remove your old version and replace this with your new website. This process can be completed within minutes, and is suitable for websites with small amounts of traffic. We can even perform this process at a time when we know your traffic is at its lowest.
b) Holding page
For a short period of downtime, we can place a holding page which informs users that the website is down for maintenance. This provides you with time to perform final testing behind the scenes, before removing the holding page. This is a good solution for medium sized websites.
c) Version control
For large websites, we can use a version control system which allows us to quickly and easily batch upload specific sets of files. This is handy for large websites as it allows us to quickly revert back to specific groups of files in case of any issues with certain features etc.
6. Test, test, test (again)
Your new website could be on a different hosting environment to your old one. We always aim to build and test your new website on the hosting environment that it is eventually going to sit on, as this helps to ensure compatibility with various plugins etc, however it is always a good idea to run through another batch of testing when the website goes live.
There you have it, the process of launching a website doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Through planning and experience, the team at Union Room ensure that the launch process is suited to your website and is completed with minimal fuss.