Successfully Launching A New Website - Part One

Luke Holmes - Senior Web Developer

Luke Holmes

13th April 2021

Part One - Research, Planning & Specification

This series of articles will explain the key measures that contribute to a successful website launch. SilverDisc has many years of experience in designing and building websites, so you could say we know a thing or two about how to launch them successfully. Here, we aim to offer advice for launching your new website and also provide an insight into what happens during the development and launch of a website when you work with SilverDisc.

In this first article, we’re looking at how to execute the research, planning and specification stage to ensure launch success.
 

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Arguably the most important part of any website build is the research and planning. The saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is especially true here. Before you even begin to think about creating wireframes or high fidelity mockups, you should consider each of the following measures to help discover and define requirements for the website.
 

What do you want the website to achieve?

Ideally, you should define a list of measurable goals you want your website to achieve. Not only will this provide a way of determining the website's success, but it will ensure that at every stage of the project you have a checklist to refer back to. Examples of measurable goals could be “Increase brochure downloads by 50%” or “reduce bounce rate by 20%”. With these goals, we know, for example, that we need to place brochure download calls to actions prominently, and ensure the web pages load quickly. These goals should be continuously reviewed and adapted after the website has launched.
 

Who is the target audience and what will they hope to get from the site?

It’s very easy to forget that the website will primarily be for the customers and not those within the business. A good method here is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and research their individual needs. This may involve creating multiple personas and mapping their user journeys through the site. Once you have an idea of who the users are and what they are trying to achieve, it becomes a lot easier to plan the website accordingly.

Hubspot offers a clever Persona Generator Tool that may prove useful in building out some personas.
 

Competitor Analysis

Naturally, you’ll want your website to outperform your competitors so an important step is to analyse their websites and see what they do well - and what they don’t. Online business can be very competitive so it’s important to establish what makes you stand out from your rivals. That will enable you to ensure that your unique selling points are prominently displayed and reinforced across the site, increasing the chance of sales or conversions and improving your return on investment.

For example, if an online store is offering free delivery for all orders and their competitors do not, this would be a unique selling point and should be highlighted as such on the website.
 

The Triple Constraint Triangle

With any project, it is important to discuss and confirm the scope at an early stage. A website project is bound by three factors - scope, time and cost. This is often referred to as the Triple Constraint Triangle.

 

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The Triple Constraint Triangle

 

The premise of this is that as you change any one of the constraints, the other two will also have to shift. For example:

  • Decreasing the amount of time (bringing a deadline forward) for a website build will ultimately result in a reduction of scope (i.e fewer features) and/or a higher cost (more project members may be needed to finish the work on time).
     
  • Increasing the complexity (the scope) of the site would in turn result in a longer-lasting project, thus also increasing the cost.

It is important to figure out which of the three constraints are the biggest drivers for your project and make sure that an appropriate balance is struck between the three. Usually one will be the most important factor, with the other factors being determined based on that.
 

Functional Specification

Once the website requirements have been decided and the project scope confirmed, a functional specification should be created and approved by all parties. This is important on two key fronts:

  • It helps to reduce the chance of “scope creep” (additional features being added later in the project, which risk deadlines being missed or budget increasing).
  • It acts as a formal checklist to ensure the website created delivers on what was promised.

The end cost of a website will of course increase or decrease based on the requirements and any project deadlines. It is therefore beneficial to all parties to get the functional specification agreed at an early stage, confirming the requirements and allowing for an accurate project schedule to be made and budgets to be met.
 

Project Scheduling

With the project scope, budget and deadlines all confirmed, a project schedule should be created. This will show a breakdown of the project into sub-tasks, each with achievable dates. A very simple top-level example is shown below, though it is likely to be much more detailed in practical scenarios. It is important to build slack into any schedule to make sure any unforeseen circumstances can be managed without affecting project delivery.

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Website Project Example Schedule

 

The above steps will help contribute to a successful website build that delivers on your goals. Stay tuned for future articles in this series, where we discuss preparing content and visuals for a website build; developing the website; and testing, hosting and completing a website launch.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about SilverDisc’s web development services, please get in touch.
 

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