Failure to launch: why so many businesses struggle to put new websites live

Mobile-responsive websites can bring you more opportunities.
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Working with clients on their web design can be a diverse experience. Some clients need everything done YESTERDAY and really pile the pressure on, especially if they have outsourced their work to us. Other clients seem to have no discernible timeframe, happily waiting months to review the website that is otherwise ready to launch. Either way is fine by us, but we sometimes wonder if clients have really thought about the returns from their website and whether they are maximising on their investment.

However, far and away the worst cases are those customers who already have a website developed – but not yet launched. Take the following scenario. While discussing web development options with a client, who has a very outdated site, we’ve been surprised to learn that they have already invested in new web design. That new website is almost ready, but it’s lacking content, or someone to upload the products, or the company owner to spend time reviewing everything. Meanwhile, that website sits there, a significant investment, perhaps also a slow money drain – and NOT bringing the increased website traffic, brand awareness, and sales that it was designed to do. This is a crazy situation! And sadly, one we have seen a few times just in our local area of Takapuna and the wider North Shore.

Four reasons why delaying your website launch spells bad news

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  1. You’re losing out on opportunity every, single, day. The business owners with a new website sitting in the pipeline often seem to be the same ones with the oldest, least useable websites! It’s a good idea to make your website mobile-responsive, which your old one probably isn’t. Consumers prefer more and more to search and shop from their mobile phones, and they sure won’t be sticking around on a website that doesn’t offer them a prime user experience.
  2. You’re not putting your marketing strategy into action. Presumably when you made that decision to get a new website, months or even years ago, you had some kind of plan in mind. Increase sales! Improve customer experience! Gain more market share! Even if you didn’t have a specific marketing plan, it clearly made sense at the time to make that investment. So why isn’t it important anymore?
  3. Your hard-earned, well-spent money is going to waste. Do you expect to pay for a fridge, a TV, or a car, only to be told that you can only start enjoying that item in 6 or 12 months? No! When we put down our money, we expect the rewards to follow straight after. So it seems odd that business people would adopt a totally different ideology when it comes to their website investment.
  4. Your window for return on investment (ROI) is diminishing. We believe this is the number one aspect that website owners don’t take into account. Websites are not diamond rings. They do not last forever. No one, not even those in the industry, can possibly predict what innovations or changes might occur in the next 5 years – not even in the next 2 years to be honest. Technology wiggles and jumps at the snap of your fingers. Did you even know what a mobile-responsive website was last year, or two years ago? So it’s foreseeable that you may want to change your website again in the future. That means the return on investment from your current website also exists in a timeframe. Hanging around for a year because you haven’t got the time might be cutting your possible ROI window by 20%-40%!

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We’re frustrated on behalf of these business owners, who have invested a significant amount of time and money in the past, and are still not seeing any return on their investment. In fact, some could be losing money, paying their monthly fees while their brand new website slowly languishes, unseen and useless to the business.

So what on earth is delaying the launch of these websites? Anecdotally, it seems to be one or a combination of the following factors:

One part of the website requires a specialist

In this situation, everything is ready to go on the new website. Everything except that one small thing that really, no one in the office knows much about, or that you need a professional for. This could be anything from the content, high-quality images, or adding a really important new page that you forgot about at the time of development.

Everyone is too busy

The reason why countless tasks are left sitting on the to-do list for eternity! To the boss’s eyes, the daily running of the business is just far more important than a task which won’t help with the sales backlog, or customer satisfaction, or meeting deadlines. Unfortunately, the internal jobs often get shuffled to the bottom of the priority list in a customer-facing company. Above all, jobs which aren’t going to give an immediate return will be the lowest of the low. Day-to-day business organisation and management often has no place for the longer-term investment. Therefore if it is staff who are responsible for overseeing the website, perhaps they have not been allocated enough time to properly see this job out the door.

Waiting for the business owner’s approval

If the staff are too busy to work on finishing the new website, the business owner will usually be ten times busier! This is especially true in a small business where nothing is really delegated and the business owner may have numerous projects on their plate. If the CEO wants to review every part of the website or is even responsible for its completion, that’s going to take time that often company owners just don’t have. This job might be relegated to ‘weekend work’ but it’s unlikely to get done if it’s not properly scheduled.

Bottom of the priority list

No time is allocated to finishing the website, no work is done trying to find the right people to finish off the job, and no extra money is sunk into this project that company owners may start wishing they never undertook. And we could hardly blame them if they became a little bitter. The downpayment all those months ago and the ongoing costs haven’t produced any results worth speaking of. The current website is working just fine and there may be vague plans to launch the new one but no real deadlines set.

No time to complete your unfinished website
No time to complete your unfinished website

 

Why complete your unfinished website ASAP?

It doesn’t have to be this way. These situations occur when a company decides to complete a portion of the work at a later date. This isn’t the experience you deserved to have when setting out to build a new website. Playing it differently next time might land you different results, which we’ll look at later on. For now, you’ll need to brace yourself and properly allocate extra resources to launch this website once and for all, and soon. Here’s why:

Yes, you’ve already invested, perhaps thousands of dollars, who knows. But a relatively modest amount would actually start that investment return rolling. There’s nothing you can do about a sunk cost; what you can do is spend say $1000 now in resources to get back many times that in return. Since the website is mainly done, the smaller amount of money you put in now would give you a return on the entire website – in other words, a rather smart investment.

Tick something off your to-do list. Your website’s been in beta for however many months. It’s been hanging around at the back of your mind and constantly seems like too big a task to take on. But it’s really just down to a handful of small steps. Wouldn’t it be great to finally tick the project off the list?

As we already said, the sooner you can get the website project launched, the sooner you’ll start seeing a return on your investment – and those returns won’t continue indefinitely since technology is always progressing. Follow the points below for a practical guide to launching your website in the next month.

How to finish and launch your website

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Take the project and break it down into smaller steps. No, you can’t finish off the website this week. But you can do any of the following:

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  • Google search for website professionals.
    If you need specialist help to complete your website, start doing your research. Aim to email a few companies (using an email template), asking for a quote for what you need.
  • Go back to your original web development company.
    If you developed your website using professional services (although they shouldn’t have left you in the lurch with an unfinished website), go back and speak to them. Find out what they can do to help for free or get a quote for the rest of the job. If you are thinking of using another company instead, find out if you own the website and if you can transfer the website to a different host.
  • Schedule time in the next 7 days for a website review.
    Nothing fancy or time consuming. Just go back and look at your website, and note down what still needs to be done. Next to those items, write down if they can be done in-house or if you need a professional.
  • Schedule your employees’ time to help with the website
    For in-house tasks, employees need to be allowed the time to work. For example, clear an afternoon on a quiet day and let them know the priority in that time is the new website. And make sure their everyday work is not allowed to impinge upon that allocated time.

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You should have a clear idea of what still needs to be done now, with a task-list drawn up and roles allocated to staff. Plus, you should have a couple of quotes from web development companies. Here are the next steps:

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  • Schedule a weekly time, within office hours, in which you will be working on or reviewing the website. It’s important that the time is within office hours because a) it’s more likely that you’ll do it, and b) you’re actively making it a business priority.
  • Staff should be working on their allocated tasks this week
  • Review the quotes and find a few more to compare. You may have the option to meet with various companies who will give you an idea of money and timeframe needed to finish the website.

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  • Aim to review all quotes by the end of this week and make your decision. You may decide that all necessary tasks can be done in-house, in which case, schedule that time in now for yourself and your employees.
  • If you need product images, bring in a photographer or arrange this for yourself. Either way, schedule time on a quiet afternoon, make sure the images are high quality and think about what kind of lighting and backdrop you want in advance.

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  • The external company should have started on the necessary work now. Make sure you are clear about your timeframe before you begin work.
  • If you use social media for your business, consider writing about your upcoming new website, and you could even offer a promotion in celebration. Making this announcement publicly will help keep you on track for your deadline, and also generate interest around the new launch. The aim of your new website is ultimately to increase sales so it’s a good idea to get your customers on board early on.

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  • Any work you contracted out should be completed by the end of this week.
  • Set a date for a final review, including any key employees who have been working on the new website. Leave a day or so for changes to be made if necessary.
  • Launch your new website at last!

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Broken down in this way, you can see that getting your website over the final stages of its creation doesn’t have to be difficult or very time-consuming. It will probably take a few days of your and your employees’ time in total. The important idea is to keep regularly scheduling reviews, meetings with key players to check progress, and time to make changes. Although it might seem counterintuitive, this website should really be at the top of your priority list, and all it takes is a few weeks of dedication before it’s ready to go live.

Best practices for website creation

 

How to stick to your website deadline
How to stick to your website deadline

As promised earlier, here are a few tips for creating your next website to avoid dragging the process out for months or even years.

Arrange for all tasks to be completed at the same time

Don’t fall into the trap of ‘we’ll take care of that later’. If you’re paying for a new website build, make sure all parts of the website are going to be finished off for the same deadline. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do anything in-house. If you have decided to photograph and upload product images yourself, or write product descriptions yourself, or do your own about us page – put the same due date on those tasks as you expect from the website company. On the other hand, if you decide it’s too much for you to take on, go back to the same company and ask for a quote for the additional scope of work, or find some quotes from a different specialist (eg, for content writing or photography). Don’t let the deadline slip by; pressure yourself to have everything completed so you’re not the one holding up your website development.

Make sure you know what you’re getting

Check the services provided in the quote from your web development company. Will they have the website ‘ready to launch’ when they are finished or will they leave you to your own devices once the main build is done? You may be better off in the hands of a different company who’ll include a few extras into their quote. Plus don’t get tempted by the cheapest offer on the market if it doesn’t include everything you need. If you know you won’t have time to invest in your website, spend the extra now to have everything taken care of, rather than paying further down the line in costly delays.

Set yourself a clear deadline and tell everyone about it

Tell your key staff about the upcoming new website, tell your customers, write about it on whatever platforms you have online. Get everyone excited about the launch to help spur you on. Prioritise the website for that month of development.

Communicate, delegate

The biggest issue holding back a new website from being ready is if the business owners tries to do everything themselves. Get another staff member on board and give them clear tasks and responsibilities, plus a deadline for getting them done. (Make sure they have time in the day to complete these tasks though!) Check on progress with your website company and send them new material as you have it.

Celebrate

Celebrate your website launch!
Celebrate your website launch!

Your new website launch is a big deal. So invite employees and customers to celebrate with you. Thank your staff for their hard work and dedication, whether they were involved in the website launch or they took over some duties from the staff that were. Thank your customers for their loyalty by running a promotion. Consider setting up a social media profile if you don’t have one, for example using Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Twitter, to coincide with the website launch and help expand your brand reach further. And get ready to reap the rewards of your new, improved online presence!

Hopefully we’ve provided some good information on how to avoid an unfinished website, and also how to get yourself out of that situation with a little time and effort.

If you’d like to talk to us about completing your unfinished website, get a quote for a website or service, or just let us know about your web development experience, you can get in touch on contact@futurelab.co.nz or 09 280 3470, or find us on Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn.