Monday, April 30, 2007

Relaunch Frenzy

Anyone that's worked in the Internet will be able to share the pain I am currently going through.

I am relaunching the website for the company I work for. Relaunch hell is well under way!

While I am getting help, the company I work for is fairly small so as I'm leading this project, I'm also doing a lot. So the inner-most circle of relaunch hell!!! (I do have some great help, but no one ever haves enough help for a relaunch, right?)

Yet there are some real wins for this relaunch that I have been pushing for that make it all worthwhile, including:
  • site architecture moved from organizational to client-focused and terminology more user-friendly
  • stripping formatting code from the main web copy and making awesome use of CSS
  • switching to XHTML
  • adding elements of website accessibility for disabled users
  • new design - with more real estate
  • much more engaging, flexible homepage
  • adding navigation aids, such as breadcrumbs, colour-delineated channels, awesome Quick Links feature (I blogged about this earlier)
  • adding a lot of content to fill in gaps as identified by our search logs & focus groups
  • printer-friendly version added for every page
  • improved page cannot be found page (so users don't get that useless default 404 error)

And some other things. But I'm too tired from all this relaunch work and Facebook fix.

So forgive me blog readers if you don't hear from me until this is over in late June.

To fill in the Webslinger gap, I have a great idea...

I hear that I have blog readers but so far I think only 4 people read it. So if you read this blog, prove it!

Let me know what your tip is for surviving a relaunch!

Or let me know what last-minute things I should add or any general relaunch tips. Let me hear it - I can use the support and frankly this will be only social interaction I'll be getting until relaunch.

2 comments:

Stephen Fetter said...

Commiserations!

I am very much an amateur in web design – went through a minor re-launch on my site last summer when I started learning about CSS and decided to create a styles sheet that would apply to all pages. As it turned out, I just didn’t have the energy to follow through on every page, and settled for only the first two levels to the tree (ie. the home page, and the pages that the home page links to). Not good enough for a commercial site … but as much as I had the energy for, for my little church site. Still if you go beyond the second level into older pages, you’ll previous formats which aren’t as pretty … but my decision was based partly on my own energy level, and partly on the assumption that people don’t frequently access really out-of-date information. Now that I’ve got the re-launch mostly set on those levels of the tree, I’m trying to make sure that new stuff I post (wherever it sits on the tree) conforms. But it’s been an uphill battle.

I do a little work with the General Council Offices of the United Church of Canada. Their website has been “frozen” (except for really vital updates) since January 1, pending a major re-design. The re-launch was scheduled for 1 May … it’s now been pushed on a month. This is extremely frustrating for the users! Not only do I depend on this website to publicize the aspects of the General Council programming I’m responsible for (Continuing Education) … I also use this websight weekly to gather news for a weekly newsletter I produce for my church congregation. The fact that the content has been so static since the beginning of the year has made my job a whole lot harder. While I have enormous sympathy for the people doing the re-design at General Council (it’s a mammoth site, and the job has been enormous) I still wonder whether it could have been staggered, so that new material could still be posted throughout the change. There’s value in launching all at once … but there’s also value in keeping the site full of current information even as the pages begin to look prettier!

Just some thoughts from a rank amateur!!

S

Bargainista said...

Glen, you know I've been there before. ; ) I went through a similar process about 18 months ago and incorporated similar features and enhancements into our corporate website. I think the most difficult part was achieving the right design while incorporating better navigation and overall usability.

Once the site is launched, all your hard work will pay off.