There have been many times on this site and on others where the criteria for building a successful blog have been discussed, but I have never gone over what it takes to make a successful site/blog before it launches. I would advise myself to follow these guidelines since I get a bit overzealous with every launch and always seem to launch a bit too early.
Depending on the purpose of your site, the role the design plays in it will vary. For a blog a great design is good, but isn’t as key as the content that is already present on the site. For more web-based application sites, the design goes a long way into attracting and keeping those first customers. The reason 9rules was a success was because of the initial design we had of the site that kept people coming back despite the lack of content that could be found on the site.
Over at Business Logs I wrote about pre-launch content and how important it is to a site. In this community you see too many people announcing the launch of their sites and the only content that can be found is a “Welcome to my site” type entry. People bookmark sites with great content. People add sites to their RSS feeds with great content. Not too many people can remember a site with one entry welcoming them.
Try to have at least 4-5 quality entries on your site so at the very least visitors have something to explore and are given a better idea of what to expect in the future from you.
What is it?
Initially when you launch, I think it is a good idea to have a visible description of what your site is about. It’s probably better to always have description of what your site is about on the homepage, but over time some people choose to discard it and put it on the homepage.
After your visitors get passed the design of your site they are going to wonder what it is about. If they can’t find it or have to search too hard for it they may just leave especially if all you have is one entry. Let them know where they are and why they should be there.
When it’s almost time to launch a site it is easy to get so excited that you launch it, announce it, and only come to find some major errors when people start visiting it. I should know as I seem to do this with every site I create :-). Before you launch you should ask a couple of people to review the site to help point out anything blatantly wrong or missing that you may have overlooked.
Creating a successful site begins before it launches. You may have a plan in place explaining how the site will grow and become popular over time, but how well you are prepared before the launch can dictate how hard you have to work to acheive your goals for the site.
With all of that said I see a million things that need to improve on all of my sites. Both a gift and a curse for writing these kinds of entries I guess.
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