10 Simple Tips for Launching a Website

Mar 3 2010 by Jacob Gube | 63 Comments

The process of launching a website can be a daunting endeavor. There are many things you want to do, but not enough time and resources to do them. However, even though it might seem like a herculean task, as long as you keep some fundamental things in mind, you can ensure a hassle-free website launch.

In this article, I’ll share with you some tips for launching a website based on the experience of our own launch of Design Instruct.

10 Simple Tips for Launching a Website

This article is part of Design Instruct Week, a weeklong celebration of our newly launched site, Design Instruct. This week on Six Revisions covers topics that deal with running websites and design, written by the founders/editors of Design Instruct and Six Revisions. Be sure to check out the Design Instruct Week Twitter Giveaway, which gives out different prizes every day of Design Instruct Week.

1. Have scalable web server resources

With today’s high-availability and cost-effective content distribution solutions such as Amazon S3, and on-demand instant scalability offerings of hosting providers such as VPS.NET, you can affordably have web servers that can take a beating from high-burst traffic.

Not only will having scalable solutions prepare you for the high-traffic that a website launch can generate, but it also future-proof’s your set-up as your website grows. High-availability, metered set-ups give you the ability to pay for just the resources you need right now.

Have scalable web server resources

For Design Instruct, we set up a CDN for distributing static files for our content-heavy pages, and scaled up our VPS resources temporarily on the day of the site launch because we were anticipating a huge burst of traffic.

Regardless of how big or small you think the traffic you’ll get is, it’s never a bad idea to get a web hosting solution that will scale—they’re tremendously affordable and you pay only for what you intend to use.

Don’t risk having your website crash and your launch day ruined because of a shoddy web server.

2. Get all of your social media accounts beforehand

Nowadays, social networking is integral to a website. Don’t wait the last minute to sign up and set up your social network accounts on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and any other site that you’re planning to engage in.

This guarantees that your preferred account name will be available before you become known and gives your visitors additional ways to communicate with as soon as they arrive at your website.

Get all of your social media accounts beforehand

On Design Instruct, our social media accounts were established well before the site’s launch date. For example, we had our Twitter account set up close to a month ahead of our site launch.

3. Have content ready to publish for at least a month

The early stages of a website is filled with many tasks. One timesaving deed you can do is to have content ready to publish so that you can follow up your launch with great content. This also frees you up for the many other activities involved in this stage of your website’s growth.

Have content ready to publish for at least a month

For Design Instruct, we set out to have 10 tutorials ready to go before we launched the site. We didn’t quite make that goal before our launch date, though we had enough to comfortably go ahead with the launch. This enabled us to focus on tasks that needed to be tended to without fear that we wouldn’t have great content to publish.

4. Drop hints about the upcoming launch to build anticipation

Let people know that there’s an event that’s going to occur to help create some hype. If you want to keep the details undisclosed to the public—that’s fine—you can still let people know that something on some date is going to happen.

Drop hints about the upcoming launch to build anticipation

In Design Instruct’s case, we wanted to wait until the actual launch before revealing what the site was. That didn’t prevent us from dropping hints that there was something coming soon. We did it through interviews and on Twitter a month ahead of the actual launch date.

This type of subtle hinting can pique the interests of your long-time supporters and fans. And those are the people that count the most when your website launches.

5. Plan your tasks for at least a month after the site launch

The worst question to have after a site launch is, "Now what?" You need a clear goal and direction on how you intend to follow through your site’s launch. If you’ve planned for a big site launch, don’t let the initial interest fizzle out by not having a plan. Before you launch, you should know exactly how you want to proceed right after.

For example, on Design Instruct, we had a laundry list of things we wanted to work on. Having content ready to publish, we were able to focus on growing the site and improving the user experience for our readers.

6. Triple-check the technical details before going live

Measure twice, cut once. Better yet, measure thrice. Making certain that your early visitors will have the best experience possible when first arriving at your site means that everything needs to be working correctly.

Check to make sure that all hyperlinks work. Make ultra-sure that contact forms, email accounts, commenting systems, and all the other things that your users will interface with, is working properly.
One of the late quick fixes we had to implement just hours before Design Instruct’s launch had something to do with category pages.

Users visiting a category page from the sidebar links that didn’t have an associated tutorial under it simply said that the page could not be found. It gave the impression that there was something wrong.

We had to revise the message to say, "There aren’t any posts in this category yet. We’re working on it though, so please check back soon!" to let users know that the pages do work, just that there aren’t anything in them yet.

7. Launch on schedule

Whether you’ve announced your launch date or not, you should release your website to the public when you say you’re going to. This forces you to stay on point and work towards a goal. What can cripple and delay a website launch is the attitude of "It’ll be ready when it’s ready."

When you’re nearing launch day and you think you won’t have the site fully completed, launch anyway (as long as it’s presentable and usable).

Websites aren’t like conventional consumer products—you can update and upgrade them any time you want.

At Design Instruct, we were delayed with some of the site features we wanted to implement, such as a comment rating system and a post rating system.

We still went ahead with the launch and created a malleable and constantly updated Upcoming Features page that listed the things we wanted to do in the future. We would curate this list by adding and removing items based on what our users want.

8. Contact your friends and family about the site launch

The first thing to do after a site has launched is to contact your friends and family. Let them know that you’ve launched the site so that they can be the first to see it.

Our friends list is just a bit larger than most people just starting out. However, we still sent personal emails to our friends at Smashing Magazine, Abduzeedo, Envato and others. We announced the site launch here on Six Revisions so that our regular readers would be the first to know about our new site.

It doesn’t matter how big your list of friends and family is, they should be the first to know about your site’s launch.

9. Provide easy ways of contacting you

When you first launch a site, you have to give visitors ways to communicate with you easily. Your initial visitors are early adopters, and as such, they’ll be critical and will help you find things that might be wrong with the site, as well as suggest ways you can improve the site for future users.

Provide easy ways of contacting you

For Design Instruct, we had several modes of communication available: email, Twitter, the comments section in the announcement post on Six Revisions, and the comments section in the welcome post on Design Instruct.

This enabled us to find out what early adopters thought about the site, and what they wanted to see in the future.

We were also able to discover bugs via reports in comments and Twitter such as the error in color profiles in our CSS sprite and forgetting to set up RSS auto-discovery.

10. Show site visitors a roadmap of what’s to come

Perhaps the most important thing you can do when you launch a site is to show your initial users that there’s more to come.

No one gets a site right on the first day. Unless you release your website, anything you think your users will want and need is just a guess. The people who will best help you figure out what works for your users are your users.

So we’ve set up an Upcoming Features page and asked our users to tell us what they want and what they don’t want.

We’ve periodically polled our supporters and fans through Twitter to determine what we should do next.

We also track all of our site changes publicly through our changelog and version history to show our readers that we are indeed moving forward with their suggestions.

Let your users see that you have more tricks up your sleeve and that they should stay on for the ride as your website continues to grow.

Share your own tips for launching a website in the comments.

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About the Author

Jacob Gube is the Founder and Chief Editor of Six Revisions. He’s also a web developer/designer who specializes in front-end development (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) and PHP development, and a book author. If you’d like to connect with him, head on over to the contact page and follow him on Twitter: @sixrevisions.

63 Comments

Jean-Baptiste Jung

March 3rd, 2010

Nice article, Jacob. I’m always launching new websites so this guide will be very useful for the future!

Smashing Share

March 3rd, 2010

Thanks Jacob for the tips. Would definitely help in launching my next blog

Matthew Heidenreich

March 3rd, 2010

great article Jacob, some useful info.

BEBEN

March 3rd, 2010

i see i see
thanks for you tips :)

JC

March 3rd, 2010

Great tips on launching a new site…some stuff that I learned the hard way along the way. I will definitely be using this blueprint for my next launch…THX!

Greg Babula

March 3rd, 2010

Good post, thanks for the tips

Jordan Walker

March 3rd, 2010

Those are all very excellent recommendations to get the juice flowing on a new site launch.

agon

March 3rd, 2010

Hi, this is a good for the beginers, all time in my mind is to launch a site…thanks for this

Melody

March 3rd, 2010

Good read for launching a new site, and relaunching an old…which is what I’ll be doing soon enough..
Understanding your posting schedule early is fundamental to maintaining that consistency, but even with a month’s worth of posts beforehand, you still have to make that month count in every way possible afterwords..

matthew duerksen

March 3rd, 2010

Some great tips! Thanks!

Jacob C

March 3rd, 2010

Excellent article Jacob. I’m planning to launch my new site, Coding Informer, soon, and reading this has really helped me plan for my upcoming launch.

Design Informer

March 3rd, 2010

OK, that was totally super weird. I typed in my regular info at the comment box and the name “Jacob C” came up. No idea who that is. LOL! :)

Billie Yang

March 3rd, 2010

In number 1, Google App Engine can also be a nice solution. It supports Python and Java which are very familiar to web developers.
By the way, very excellent post I think.

Suhasini

March 3rd, 2010

Nice article mate, we have kept all these things in mind but missed out few, thanks for sharing this as it will help up many folks.

Jenna Molby

March 3rd, 2010

great tips Jacob, thanks for sharing.

Misael

March 3rd, 2010

Thanks for the article, will definitely keep this in mind for my next site launch.

Amberly

March 3rd, 2010

handy tips..
Thanks for sharing.

John Paul Aguiar

March 3rd, 2010

Nice step by step to launching a blog.

Amazing to see the added steps now with social media in the mix.

Omer Greenwald

March 3rd, 2010

Very good tips for those who plan to launch a new site. It’s not ot to late to switch to CDN for existing sites as well, same goes for social media, thanks

Ben Sky

March 3rd, 2010

Very interesting insight Jacob, certainly an involved process that many I think overlook!

Duane Kinsey

March 3rd, 2010

Very useful tips. I can vouch for the fact that having at least a one months worth of posts done before launch really takes the pressure off. Thanks for sharing.

Metin

March 3rd, 2010

Nice article! I wish I was aware of all these points before. Well, I’m noting them for prospective projects of mine.

The Inside Design

March 3rd, 2010

Great article and very useful tips. Amazon has amazing resources for from books to help out and Amazon S3 which s great. Great Article.

Jeff Archibald

March 3rd, 2010

Great article – just what I needed. We’re in the midst of launching a new magazine-style site (for musicians; not designers), so I’ll be bookmarking this and coming back periodically.

Ajay

March 4th, 2010

Great article! Thanks Jacob.

Antoine Guédès

March 4th, 2010

Thanks for those useful tips.
I’ll keep them in mind. ;-)

Jamie

March 4th, 2010

Great article! For point 6 I would add the important of cross browser testing and testing at differing screen resolutions.

Michael

March 4th, 2010

Yes, thank you this is a nice article and I will keep this in mind, too :-)

Noel Wiggins

March 4th, 2010

Great tips I especially like the have a months worth of content ready by the time of launch.

This would be a great buffer while you try and stay on schedule so you are always a month ahead, there is nothing worse than letting your content delay.

Kai

March 4th, 2010

Great article, nice Tips

zohaib

March 4th, 2010

infect 10 useful tips :) thanks for share Jacob Gube

An

March 4th, 2010

Great tips that everyone should keep in mind before/when lauching a site. Thanks Jacob!

Jack

March 4th, 2010

Great. These tips really helps. I do agree that the first time the visitor arrives at the site he has to have a good experience with it, if not he will never come back.

R. Lee Gordon

March 5th, 2010

Interesting, beneficial information.

Having an “editorial calendar” and content at the ready is a great idea indeed.

Thomas

March 5th, 2010

Great article, it’s alway nice to remind these tips, Thanks

YNB

March 5th, 2010

Very good tips – I never thought of planning out this far in advance; might have saved myself a lot of trouble.

Ruslan

March 5th, 2010

Great article, Jacob. I will use the list for my next web site.

Ravi8x

March 6th, 2010

Good tips – i don’t know all the 10 tips but few of them. ThanQ

Roei cpo

March 7th, 2010

GREAT!!! thanks :)

ALex Fenson

March 7th, 2010

Great tips here as I’m launching a brand new podcast on the 21st of March and feels good to know that I’ve done most of the tips here :-) Great minds think alike :-)

Alex

Josh

March 7th, 2010

Thanks for the article. I recently launched a website and I think these tips are helpful for people getting ready to launch and for those who have launched but need to make sure they are on the right track.

Kier Duros

March 8th, 2010

Fantastic!

Now if I could just convince our clients of the importance most of these points… (especially the content bits) :)

johan

March 8th, 2010

great article ! would have helped me a year ago ;-)

Jonathan Green

March 8th, 2010

Great tips as I am currently making revisions to my website. I will keep your suggestions in mind. Good Job.

Jon

Bill Bolmeier

March 8th, 2010

Nice list. I recently converted a family member’s blogger blog to WordPress and I came up with a huge list. Still doing minor stuff after the fact.

Marnie B

March 9th, 2010

Awesome post. I’ve just launched a blog and planned fairly well beforehand, doing most of the things above. It really pays off to have a launch plan!

geraldine

April 2nd, 2010

je vais etre obligé de faire des changements sur notre site !! Great

robert

May 12th, 2010

Increible Articulo, Gracias por la informacion

Craig

September 20th, 2010

Great tips for launching a website, and great idea to plan and as you say definitely stick to the launch date, very good advice!

Rubosh

September 21st, 2010

Thanks for the article! We used some of the tips for launching our small service.

Enock Mac'Ouma

November 4th, 2010

Thanks so much Jake. The tips are not only inspiring but also insightful.

Jay

December 14th, 2010

im building a site for a client, however they have an IT guy who wants to be the person to launch the site, uploading it with whatever programs he’s using. Is this a normal practice? To me it seems if there are any glitches, everyone would have to wait for the IT guy to fix them, whenever he gets around to it.

Jan

January 26th, 2011

Thanks for these tips!

Steve

January 30th, 2011

Great article Jacob. I have followed several of your tutorials recently and have had much success. I’ll make sure we use these on our current project and re-launch a site about charcoal grills.

CWG

February 9th, 2011

I think #5 is really important so that once the site is launched a plan of attack remains so the site still has direction and doesn’t become an afterthought.

Jamie

February 10th, 2011

Thanks for the tips. We are going live soon so very apprehensive about how traffic flow is going to come with out spending a fortune on adwords. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

Zumry

August 19th, 2011

Hi there,
Thanks for your valuable info.
i was working as a java developer.but now i wanted to design for websites.since last minute i hate designing part.but everytng changed..plz give me some ideas/adives to imrove my web designing knowledge according to new techz.

Dulce

October 16th, 2011

Thanks Jacob. Excellent tips. Will use it as we launch our new WordPress Theme club in a few days. Exciting times!

asxiq

October 18th, 2011

stumbled in to this article while prepping for my upcoming website launch

thx

Sheri MacNutt

November 15th, 2011

This was great. Thanks for putting in the time and effort. I’m looking to launch a webisode and started my research today! I googled, “how to launch your webisode” and started with this article, I think it’s applicable, plenty of useful ideas here. And taking your advice…Look for a webisode on youtube hosted by an up-beat homebrewing business owner from the Land Of Enchantment! (my first buzz!) Thanks again!

parveen sharma

November 28th, 2011

parveen sharma kaushik,

Andrew Zgoda

June 16th, 2013

These are all great, except the last, I’d say- it prevents true innovation, sometimes.

If there is a complicated problem to solve, nearly 99% of users won’t know a viable solution that’s prime utilitarian material.

People know the problem 100% of the time, not always the solution- “people don’t want a 1/4 inch drill, people want a 1/4 inch hole”.

Think about the invention of the automobile (horseless carriage).

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