New Website Launches: What to Anticipate

Go live with a website

Hopefully, you’ve selected us to redesign your website and we will be handling your stress-free launch. But if you haven’t, we want you to be prepared for your launch day.

Most of the time the designers and developers at Oneupweb are replacing legacy sites that have been up for years. This means we’re updating more than just the website. The hosting provider, the domain registrar, the nameservers, even the email service provider are routinely updated when a redesign of an older website is launched.

Now, assuming we have asked all the relevant questions, we have all the required services set up, and we have all our logins available to make the changes necessary, there are a couple cardinal rules.

Never “go live” on Friday

A newly launched website takes time to show up online for users to see. Which means, if you go live on Friday and it materializes for users on Saturday night, fixing any problem means contacting people at various levels of sobriety to fix the issue(s).

Back Up Everything

back up your website

Back up everything. Everything. The old site, the new site, the databases, the image folder, the old logins, the new logins, the old DNS records, the old service information, the new service information, and the contacts you have at each of the services you’re using.

Inevitably, you will need a link from the old site that isn’t around anymore or an image will break and you will have to hunt it down. Back up your backups. And make sure your team has access to everything they need in case you get hit by a bus.

How a Website Launch by Oneupweb Works  

It’s Tuesday morning and everything is backed up and you are ready. You give us the green light and we go.

First, we have a pre-launch checklist to go through, which prepares your staging site to move to its final destination. It takes us a couple of hours to get through this list.

website launch checklist
Screenshot of our Pre-Launch Tasks List for a recent project.

The Actual Switch

Next, we update the Domain Name Servers (DNS). This tells the internet-at-large where your website is. So when we make the change and tell it to point to the new location, there’s a TTL setting (time to live) that we usually set to the minimum. For some services, that can be four hours, some are instant.

Then, we wait.

It takes time to propagate

It’s the internet. Everything is connected. But each machine is not connected to all the other machines all the time (i.e., Computer A is connected to B, and B is connected to C, but A isn’t connected directly to C. A talks to B first), so it takes time to propagate new information on  the internet. This is the point where someone will say, “It’s live!” and someone else will say they still see the old site. This is normal.

In 2018, we’ve seen propagation take anywhere from two to 48 hours. Luckily, If users aren’t seeing the new information yet, they’re still seeing the old, so your website visitors will never think anything appears broken. For a select few, however, they may see old pages mixed in the new pages, as they have the old ones cached.

Ctrl+Shift+R is your shortcut key to refreshing those pages. This performs a hard refresh for those pages clearing whatever you have cached. CMD+Shift+R for Mac.

“It’s live!”

Hold on a sec. Don’t go announcing it to your favorite clients yet. We always run a post-live QA to make sure all the links are updated, the images load correctly, and a variety of other items are double-checked.

Also, we can’t install an SSL certificate until the site is live, so as soon as it’s up, we need to make sure the entire site is secure. Nothing will turn your customers away faster than a security warning. This doesn’t take long, and we make it a point to check before propagation completes, but there is a short window of time where someone may notice that there is an SSL error.

Post-launch task list
Screenshot of our Post-Launch Tasks List for a recent project.

The full process takes up to 48 hours, and sometimes things happen. Our own site, for example, got stuck in an update loop during a recent launch where it kept switching back and forth between the old site and the new site for almost five days before we were able to resolve the issue. Additionally, sometimes email gets rerouted and the mail bot tries to send it to the old location and then has to go searching for the new location, and your email gets delayed (just like a change of address for snail mail).

Congratulations 

You just had a low-stress, high-confidence website launch. Well done. Give your team a pat on the back and celebrate.

If you’re interested in working with an experienced, professional web design and development company that regularly launches new sites with built-in quality assurance, contact Oneupweb today.