Gary Survis is a Venture Partner and leads Onsite's Marketing Center of Excellence. He focuses on driving marketing capability at Insight and its portfolio companies. A former Insight portfolio company CMO, Gary brings an operational perspective to assist marketing leaders succeed. In this blog, Gary shares his best practices for launching a new website.
Your face to the world.
Every marketing leader has felt it before: that nervous pit in your stomach before your new website goes live. Is it ready? Can I push the "publish" button and bring it to life? All of the planning, all of the designing, all of the coding, all of the testing—is it enough?
I have one word for you: relax. It will be fine. Insight has been on a journey to launch a new website for our firm. Along the way, we relied on our own best practices:
Focus on a solid base: The most important choice to make is your Content Management System (CMS). There are many options, each with a range of capabilities and price points. Today you can get a lot of functionality for not too much cost. We chose the Automattic platform (WordPress) because it gave us great functionality, a strong ecosystem of plugins which reduces custom development, and considerable flexibility. Pre and post launch there will be many changes to your site. The one thing you don’t want to have to change is your CMS. Choose wisely! Flexibility at the right price point is paramount.
There is such a thing as too much feedback: Never develop a website in a vacuum. It is important to begin the process by getting as many ideas as possible. This ensures new ideas are captured and support from key stakeholders (like sales, customer success and product). But, there is a difference between getting input and making every choice on your site based on a vote. Too many people giving constant feedback can easily result in a site that is inconsistent, ineffective, and bland. Once you have decided on key aspects of your site, contain your testing/ feedback to a small group and ensure you have one ultimate decision maker to keep the voice consistent. Your website reflects the lead generation intent and brand messaging of your company, as realized by marketing experts.
Leave time for content: I am often surprised by how much time is spent on the website’s look and feel, graphics, site layout, and how little time is spent creating credible and compelling content. In the end, the language, tone, and writing will be the true test of success. Does your site really tell your story? Can someone hit your homepage and immediately understand what you do? In parallel, don't neglet SEO. Make sure you clearly define your keyword strategy and leverage technology to optimize your SEO processes during site creation. Build time upfront to implement a robust content creation and editing process that serves your product messaging, and your lead generation SEO needs.
Cover your testing bases: Testing is a basic parameter of web development. Ask yourself whether you have the right people for the job, and ensure they quality control the right things:
- Are there issues with page loading speed?
- Do all the images display correctly?
- How does the site look on different mobile platforms, computer operating systems, and in different browsers?
- Do all of the links work?
- Are spelling/ grammar edits needed?
- Are there formatting inconsistencies?
Make sure you choose people who have high attention to detail and give each person specific instructions about what they should be testing. After all the planning and effort to launch a new website, no one wants to be embarrassed by sloppiness.
There will always be haters: I have lost count of the number of websites that I've launched in my career. One thing has been consistent for every single one… you can’t make everyone happy. As the marketing leader, you are the expert and you need to make some choices. People are entitled to their opinions, but you need to remain focused on the website elements that enable you to accomplish your agreed-to key marketing objectives. It’s great to be loved; it’s better to be successful.
In the end, just relax. Why the chillax attitude? Well, it is based both on experience and reality. For the most part, there is nothing that you are doing with the website that can’t be fixed or amended. The launch is simply the start of a long process of optimization and improvement. I am not recommending that you dive in without any testing or doing all the “right” things. But, if the site is technically fit, and you have done the proper planning up front, go ahead and let the beast breathe.