Launching a new or updating your existing eCommerce site can be an extremely daunting task, especially if you aren’t sure where to start.
In this post, we’ll help you learn how you can have a successful website launch, and set yourself up for success in just five steps.
Before you even look at anything else, being able to find the best developer (or agency!) to work with is of the utmost importance. Many agencies claim they have exceptional support, and can handle, “anything that comes their way,” but sadly a lot of these claims are unfounded. When researching your options, we recommend asking a lot of questions, and really getting to know the agencies you are speaking with. As cheesy as it may sound, you have to treat your agency similar to a romantic relationship. They will need to be by your side throughout the entire development process, and if things get off track, work to find a solution rather than place blame.
When looking for the right agency to work with, we strongly encourage reading reviews as these provide insight into what your experience could be. Keep in mind that all reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, as someone leaving a bad review could have had a bad day, or didn’t understand the terms and conditions of the agreement they made with the agency. A good agency will explain everything to you upfront, and will ensure there is transparency with their proposals for work. We’ll highlight this more in our next section on budgeting.
Your budget will decide everything from your eCommerce platform, to extensions, and even which agency you ultimately work with. It may also decide if you’re able to go with a completely new eCommerce platform, or maintain your existing one. Being able to have a budget in mind will also ensure that you do not under-estimate how many hours your build will take, and that there are no surprises when the monthly invoice comes.
One of the most-important recommendations we can make about deciding on a budget is to decide on which two of these are important for you and your business. Do you care about quality, speed, or cost? If you care about quality and cost, you may opt to have a longer development time before going live. If you care about cost and speed, the quality of your site may not be as good, but you’ll save money and time getting it live. We’ve written about this at length in this post, and encourage you to read it before deciding on what’s important to you.
We will say, there is always someone who says, “I can do that cheaper!” And to be quite frank, you get what you pay for. If you opt to go with the offshore developer who is significantly cheaper, be prepared for headaches. One of our clients we recently rescued decided to go the offshore route, and it cost them thousands of dollars, and the coding needed to be fixed again taking them back to square one.
Remember how we said that good agencies will ensure there is transparency with their proposals? You should be seeing this with any/all proposals you receive from the agency you are working with. If you ever see a vague item such as, “Site Design: $8,000” it should be a giant red flag.
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
This classic phrase applies to the integrations to your eCommerce site too.
Having the right integrations can help you market your site, decrease reliance on manual processes, and reach more customers.
On the flip side, having too many extensions can slow your site down to a crawl, and create a not-so-good experience for your users.
It’s important during your initial conversations with your team and agency partner to discuss what integrations you would like to include on your site. If you’re on Adobe Commerce, chances are some of the functions you would typically need an integration for are native to the platform, and don’t require an integration.
Again, reviewing with your internal team and development agency can help you ensure that your site is set up for success.
During the development process, it’s important to not only establish key milestones, but to also QA test your site as frequently as possible. By QAing your site often, you’ll be able to catch bugs, and usability issues, and be able to have your development team tackle them before your site launch.
You might be thinking to yourself, “I can just wait until we get ready to launch,” and want to put off the QA testing. Or, you may say, “I trust my development team, and don’t need to review.”
By QAing early and often, you can also make sure that your build stays on time, and doesn’t go over budget. By prolonging your review, you may need to account for the extra time needed to go live as well.
No matter how solid your development team is, there will always be something that comes up during the development of your site. No one is perfect, and something will always pop up unexpectedly.
Like we mentioned in the previous section, no one is perfect, and there will ultimately be something that pops up during your go-live.
Before going live, your development team or agency partner should have a go-live checklist to make sure no major pieces are overlooked. In fact, this will tie directly into the QA of your site which we mentioned briefly in the last section.
The most important thing to remember is that being prepared for these hiccups can help alleviate some of the stress of a go-live. Having team members in place, along with a solid agency partner to help address these as soon as they happen will resolve any potential issues more quickly.
For almost a decade, 121eCommerce has helped over 300 businesses successfully launch their eCommerce sites. When it comes to launches, we’ve seen almost any/everything you could imagine!
If you’re stuck and not sure where to start, we’re here to help!
Feel free to contact us, and we can help you get your launch on track.