Answering frequently asked questions is one of the things we do here. And one question we hear is this: what will happen to my current website while the new one is being built?
We've got a short answer and a long answer.
Short answer—Nothing! Business as usual until you're ready to launch the new site.
Long answer—Keep reading.
The question is rooted in a few concerns:
- Will we need to stop working on our current site while the new one is being built?
- What's the process for building a new website and how will it affect my old/current site?
- What does the transition from old site to new site look like?
Let's walk through these questions one at a time.
Business As Usual
We're all so excited about the prospect of a new website that it's easy to neglect the old one while planning, designing and building the new one.
But that is a mistake. A traditional website project (as opposed to an ongoing engagement) can take MONTHS. You really don't want to stop all news, blogging, product launches or event updates on your current site for that long. Add those portfolio pieces and new product pages—you'll be glad you did when it comes time for the final migration.
Much of your old website content may get migrated to the new website, so you want all of that content to be current. Keep a "business as usual" mindset to your current website, even if you're sick of looking at it and can't wait for the new one to launch.
Website Planning & Building Process
Are you anxious to get rid of your website as soon as possible? Take a deep breath and buckle up. You may have a specific date in mind, but website launch dates are notoriously tricky devils. Build unforeseen events into your timeline and your expectations. What could come up? We've seen it all: extra content planning, a change in strategy, more build time, approvals from multiple parties, unforeseen hurdles with third party integrations, and the list goes on.
Rushing can make the process more painful, so before committing to a new project make sure you or someone on your team can dedicate the time needed. This means dedicating staff to regular meetings, content writing and organizing, and responding to emails from your agency. Need help writing content and migrating it to your site? We always encourage investing in content to keep a project from stalling.
In our experience, the number one reason for a website project to drag on longer than projected is this—approvals and response time. This could be due to needing approvals from multiple board members or key decision makers, which doesn't necessarily mean the project will take longer but it's something that should be planned for.
The process for planning and building your new website will take time. Because of this and user expectations for modern websites, more companies are choosing ongoing website and marketing engagements with an agency, rather than doing a time-consuming, complex website redesign every 2-3 years.
Migration and Launch
Time to prep for the new website launch! Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
Who is your registrar? Whoever designed and built your old website (an agency, IT team, or individual) probably doesn't own the domain to your website, or at least they shouldn't. You (and your new agency) will need access to your domain.
Who will handle the launch? Do you have an IT team or in-house person who plans to log into your registrar account and handle the domain switch? We are able to do this for you, if you give us the credentials or access to your account.
How does the transition work? Your project manager will work with you on scheduling a launch date with the development team. For our process, our developers lead the way on launch and communicate with your team to make the transition simple and smooth. We only launch sites Monday through Thursday to make sure all hands are on-deck in case something unexpected pops up. Once the domain is switched to point to your new website, it does take awhile for the new website to propagate throughout the internet. You may see the new website, while someone else still sees the old one. This is normal and it just takes time (up to 24 hours). We encourage a soft-launch for this reason, so be ready to test and make sure the website is functioning properly before making a big announcement.
Will there be "down time?" No. Besides the propagation window we mentioned, there should be no down time for your website.
Final Thoughts & Tips for Getting Through a Website Launch!
Your agency should be able to handle the technical side of your website launch, but just for your own understanding here's a short checklist:
- Make sure all redirects are set up (this will help prevent major SEO issues)
- Set TTL (time to launch) lower to force name servers to see updates faster
- Highly regulated industries like Finance and Healthcare: make sure your current site is ADA compliant and not at risk while your new site is being built.
From the moment you decide to redesign your website to the final launch date, be prepared to manage both your current website and all of the planning and communication involved in your new website engagement. Understanding expectations and having realistic expectations will serve you and your team during this exciting time.
Good luck, and contact us if you have any questions about a website engagement with SpinWeb.