Launching a new website is stressful. It seems so easy early on when you’re thinking about amazingly carefree your life will feel once you finally get that new, sexy site launched, but creating a website can be high-stress work. Between getting stakeholders to agree on the design, establishing buy-in from the C-Suite on costs, and making sure it is, in fact, better than your current site (even though the “better” part might be hard to express to a development team), there are a lot of factors that go into a website build.
But once you make it through the hurricane of feature requests, sprint planning, development, and QA, you’re ready to enjoy your new site – and you deserve to. So how do you stop the costs from going up after you launch?
Below are our top tips to prioritize in order to avoid suffering from exorbitant post-launch costs and to get you enjoying your site as soon as possible, without unnecessary development overhead.
Outline All Features Upfront & Decide Prioritize
This might be difficult if you don’t know everything you could possibly need, but it’s important to have a good idea of the features you might need or want for the new site. This helps provide an appropriate roadmap for the site to ensure it is being built in the most efficient way possible for your needs.
For post-launch efforts, not knowing all features up-front might result in having to retool certain parts of the site to make a feature work. Had this been known all along, the development team might have structured the code differently to make a new feature easier to integrate in the future.
Even if you do not plan on rolling a feature into your Phase 1 development, consider making the team aware of it so they can plan accordingly for the future and, thus, cut down on costs.
Choose the Right CMS
This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. For whatever reason – politics, history, great salesmen – your team might have purchased a CMS that isn’t the best choice for your website updates. If you aren’t using a CMS that you and your team are comfortable with, it will result in issues down the road for sure.
For instance, you will spend time asking more questions to your development team and paying for development resources to make changes. You will also end up spending more on softer costs, likely through wasted time internally and sheer inefficiency.
Choosing the right CMS guarantees that you have set up the appropriate training resources for your team ahead of time. It also means that you’ll be able to create a culture of inclusion with the CMS that will result in more use and less time spent on questions for the development team.
Outline Post-Launch Role Definitions
This is one of the easiest ways to avoid unexpected post-launch costs. By not defining post-launch roles, you are leaving a lot up to chance. It’s like not bringing an umbrella when the forecast calls for rain or bringing your girlfriend to Applebee’s. You just shouldn’t leave these things up to chance.
For example, if you haven’t defined who exactly will be utilizing the CMS to make changes, you might end up in a scenario where the person that is supposed to be making a majority of the changes is not trained on the CMS or does not have the time to make the changes to meet deadlines. This will result in paying for additional resources to make the changes and/or utilizing your website development team or vendor to make the changes for you. (And that’s not figuring in the awfulness of having to scramble. That’s worth avoiding in it of itself – for you, your team, and your bottom line.)
By defining post-launch roles and considering what the ideal steady-state looks like when you’re using your site at its optimal functionality, you will create a clear plan of action with anticipated costs rather than a variable scenario where anything is possible.
Define What Success Looks Like
If you don’t know what success looks like post-website launch, how do you know when to stop developing or keep chugging along? If you don’t have some idea of the challenges your website is supposed to be solving, you’ll have no way of measuring if it was a success and you’ll drive yourself crazy with guesswork.
By defining the goal, you’ll have a better picture of what you are hoping to accomplish so you can gauge what it will take to get there. When your website finally launches, you should be making additional adjustments to better satisfy the goal, not simply because stakeholders want to “make that button purple” or “move the slider 2 pixels north.”
If you can justify ongoing adjustments based on real data, you’ll save dollars by avoiding changes that will likely have a negative impact on your business goals.
Work With a Trusted Partner
Regardless of whether you work with an internal development team or outsource your website development to a vendor, the concept remains the same: Working with a trusted ally will help save you money post-launch. If you trust the team you work with, you’ll be more open to conversations that allow you to move forward strategically and create efficiencies where possible.
If your development partner does not have your best interest in mind, they’ll be more likely to drag out a project post-launch rather than push back on features that might not make sense or that support the business goals. Ideally, you will work with someone – or a team of talented individuals – who is a true thought partner. Someone who ensures that you are creating the best possible result for your website, all the while considering how to help you avoid pitfalls post-launch as well, even though their work with you may be mostly complete.
A website is an investment and should last you a long time if done correctly. Of course, it will never be a “set it and forget it” approach, but it should be built to grow with your company and your needs.
Too Long, Didn’t Read…
Websites can be expensive even after launch. Some websites require ongoing maintenance and feature requests, but you should be smart about how those costs are handled. Mitigate your risks early on, look to the future, and create a true partnership with your development team or vendor to make sure you are implementing the best practices that fit your business goals at every turn.