If there’s one thing every experienced digital marketing firm knows, it’s that there’s a lot that can go wrong when launching a new website. Even small hiccups can delay the launch by days or even weeks.

What many people don’t realize, though, is that designing, programming, and launching a website is all part of a give-and-take relationship. One could even call it symbiotic. The client plays a critical role in making sure the new site gets rolled out on time.

What can you as a client do to make sure that the project stays on track? How should digital media firms encourage clients to help the process along?

#1 – Meet Content Deadlines

Content isn’t just king. Content is everything. Just like a book or a magazine is not “paper and ink”, but the words and ideas contained within, your website is the text, images, videos and systems that communicate effectively to your target markets.

And the fact is, content comes from you, the client.

Like all digital marketing and web design firms, GHIIS works hard to understand our clients’ businesses and their particular markets in order to help them reach their goals. (And we love doing it, too.)

But you don’t just want text and images and videos in order to fill up space on the pages. You want excellent content – words and pictures that help sell your message. Or your services and products.

And to do this, you have to know the details, the ins and outs of the business. You have to know the market cold. And that could take years, especially in a niche market.

This means that, generally speaking, content comes from you, the client. Not always, but the vast majority of the time. It’s just the way it has to be.

Of course, your digital marketing agency can help. Whether it’s research, interviews, copywriting or tweaking individual words and phrases for SEO,  GHIIS can provide solid recommendations that help build our clients’ brand, satisfy their visitors, and make the search engines happy.

But at the end of the day, the client owns the content and its creation, not us.

This is why every client we work with has a set of agreed-upon content goals and due dates. Sometimes, things come up. Perhaps they have other business that takes priority, or needs that arise in the midst of the design project that take resources away from content creation. We understand.

But this causes delays. No digital media agency can meet a website design launch deadline if content due dates are not met. If a client cannot meet the content due date for some reason, we must halt the project and agree on new reasonable due dates for the content.

It is hard to stress how important this is for getting a website launched. Meeting content deadlines is critical.

One way to help ensure that the website is launched on time is to plan ahead; to carve out serious quality time in your schedule for writing new content and / or editing existing content.

#2 – Respond Promptly

We aim to please.

And we know that we’re doing well only if you respond promptly. Likewise, we know that something needs changed only if you respond promptly.

In short, your timely response is critical. If you don’t get back to us with information we need in a timely manner, project timeframes will be affected.

#3 – Stick to Decisions, especially about the graphics and function of the site

Our dedicated team of graphic design experts seeks to create the perfect websites for our customers’ needs. That may mean a new, sleek and shiny website with a robust ecommerce platform, or a down-to-earth, rustic website with a simple content management system, or something in between.

To keep us on track and to ensure that you are satisfied with the new site, we will have periodic website design comp review sessions. These sessions are in place to get 100% of your approval on the way the site looks and functions. Don’t like something? We’ll change it. Just let us know.

Delays happen when clients are slow to respond (see #2) or change their minds. Please keep in mind that once you have approved the graphic design comp, and we move into programming, changes to that design composition will result in a delay and additional fees.

A good way to get around this is to make sure that the decision-makers in this process are present, or that you know exactly what the decision-makers want.

#4 – Do NOT update WordPress / Magento

Generally speaking, we use WordPress as a content management system (CMS) and Magento as an ecommerce platform. In our many years of using it, both have been more-or-less reliable and definitely easy to use for our clients.

However, both WordPress and Magento need to be patched up periodically. New features and “bug fixes” come out all the time.

  • WordPress plugins need to be updated almost every month, depending on how many and which plugins a site uses. All WordPress updates affect its plugins, so each update needs to be coordinated … and then the web site needs tested.
  • Magento’s software is more complicated. It must be maintained and carefully updated 1-2 times per year. This could take time, and unexpected problems may arise.

These are still the best platforms out there, at least in our experience. Still, some issues may come up.

What can the client do to prevent delays? Do not install or update WordPress plugins on your own. Please do not update or maintain Magento’s system. It can be tricky.

(We’ve heard stories of an “enterprising” in-house IT guy who decides he is going to make his own changes and … breaks the whole system.)

#5 – Keep Track of All Passwords

Our policy is to not have access to any client’s domain name’s registration, emails, etc. And we won’t store it for them due to security risks and concerns.

If our client loses their password to their domain or website, we won’t be able to implement any of our changes and go live, which will certainly affect our ability to meet the original deadline.

Please, please keep careful track of the domain name, registrar, and email passwords. Keep all of this stuff in a safe location. Forever.

In the end, rolling out a new website should be an exciting time for a company. Little things – meeting content deadlines, prompt responses, sticking to graphical and functional decisions, not trying to fix bugs yourself, and protecting passwords – can mean the difference between a gratifying and comfortable experience and a lot of frustration.