Launching a new website is big undertaking. You may be tempted to see launch day as the finish line, but in truth, it’s the start of a new growth phase. Like your car or your home, maintenance will definitely be required. Everyone knows you need a good mechanic in your contact list and a trusted repairman in your neighborhood. Websites are no different. Upgrades, repairs, and new features will keep you site running smoothly and meeting the needs of your clients and users.
A best practice in web design is to retain your design firm to help provide maintenance support for your site after launch. As the original designers, the trusted team you hired to create and build your site is best positioned to ensure its continued integrity. This article will explain what your post launch needs may be, who is best positioned to help, why your website needs to continue growing, and what the most cost-effective method will be.
What are Typical Post Launch Requirements?
After your initial website launch, you will inevitably discover ways that your site can be improved, streamlined, and even adjusted to new needs. Typical post launch requirements can include troubleshooting for updates, patches, and fixes to your WordPress or Drupal platforms. There are also important security updates to complete, analytics needed to help gauge web traffic behavior, and even new content or site pages to create. Luckily, websites are a living publication that can be easily altered to meet the the ever changing needs of your users. WDG arranges quarterly health meetings to discuss how our clients’ sites are working, what needs improvement, and how the team can help them get the most mileage out of a new site.
- Troubleshooting: Sometimes you find things on your newly launched website that you want to change. Perhaps your users simply aren’t using a page as anticipated or a plugin doesn’t maximize the user experience as you hoped it would. It’s best to address this right away with a quick and timely troubleshooting session.
- Security Updates and Bug Fixes: Drupal, WordPress, and the numerous plugins and modules you can choose from will continuously issue upgrades, patches, bug fixes, and critical security updates that should be implemented immediately. You will need someone available to monitor and facilitate these changes on a regular basis. Having regular post-launch support will ensure your site is safe and secure by operating with the newest and best versions of the software available.
- Analytics: Monitoring and interpreting the data from your site is a critical aspect of running an optimized and performant website. Your site is a living document, so you’ll want to know what pages get the most views, what your bounce rate is, where your outside referrals are coming from, how various trends change over time, and any other information that might help you make informed decisions moving forward. A strong design and strategy team can help interpret your website’s analytics with cost-effective tools like Google Analytics so you can make the necessary adjustments with key information in mind.
- Ongoing Content Creation: The ability to adjust and adapt is what separates a mediocre website from a great website. This means knowing not only what new content needs to be added, but also when and how to incorporate it into your new site. Refreshing content that remains on trend and including evergreen content will help ensure continued relevancy with audiences and search engines alike.
- Continuous SEO Optimization: Search engine optimization should be continuously tracked and monitored to garner increased page views and eventual conversions on your site. Changes in trends, search queries, terminology, and competition mean that you need a dedicated team that stays updated on how your site is ranked on search engines, as well as what is trending and driving traffic in your field. They should use this information to make educated recommendations for SEO improvements to help increase rankings.
- Maintaining Integrations with Third-Parties: Most of our clients have custom and large integration points with Salesforce or other third-party systems that provide a valuable experience to their users. These custom solutions require updates and maintenance so communications are not cut between the website and the integrated third-party systems.
- General Digital Consulting Services: For post-launch retainer clients, this service is indispensable. Your web design and strategy team will offer dedicated account managers that can continue to advise and assist you. They will be available to schedule quarterly meetings to discuss benchmarks, explain the latest trends, or review analytics and performance of the site to make future recommendations and improvements. By becoming a retainer client, you guarantee that the team of experts you relied on to build your site will continue to be available to you. You can easily build a long term, trusted relationship with your agency, allowing them to become an extended part of your team.
What is the Most Cost-Effective Method?
Most people search for a mechanic that specializes in their car’s brand because they do it faster and better than the person without that experience. Your chosen design agency knows how the site is built inside and out; because of this, they can jump in for post-launch support services immediately, without the need for onboarding as would be required for outsourced support. Many times, an ad hoc web repair consultant will need multiple attempts to make something work properly. As this type of work is billed by the hour, what looks like a bargain at the beginning ends up costing much more in the long run. It’s always better to get it done right the first time to save yourself valuable investments in both time and cost.
Why are Retainers the More Affordable Option?
Particularly with large or complex sites, you often find that more than one specialty is required to maintain a professional site that is continuously up to date and working. Design, content marketing, strategy, and development concerns are all relevant in ensuring optimal website functionality. By partnering with a web design agency, you will have full access to a wide variety of expert services covering multiple disciplines, including designers, digital strategists, account managers, content writers, and developers on an as-needed basis.
What Does All of This Mean?
The word “retainer” often makes people uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t! The best websites are complex, dynamic, and ever changing. By signing a retainer agreement with your web design firm, you are ensuring that your post-launch support is looking out for your best interest. A shiny new website can become plagued with bugs, making it slow, clunky, and outdated. Without proper maintenance, upgrades, troubleshooting, security patches, and constant attention to detail, it can be difficult to maintain a performant and optimized site that caters specifically to your audience and the trends in your field. Make sure you have an agreement that ensures your web design team will be available to continue work on your site when you need them.
A bit of advice: Want to work with trusted advisors who can be your one stop shop for all digital questions? Build a relationship with your agency. Chances are they can refer additional vetted vendors and solutions to you rather than going through the complex RFP process and vetting new consultants and vendors.