Updated: Jan 4
Sometimes, it is best to wait until your website is completely perfect, 100% beta tested, and ready to go before letting it out into the great internet wasteland looking for wanderers in search of what your website is offering. Other times, a soft launch is exactly what you need.
When moving from an existing website to a new and improved version (one that will attract customers better, and give them a better overall experience by massively increasing the effectiveness of your website), a hard launch is likely your best bet; and you might as well save yourself some time; by finding a more relevant article; or maybe some nice memes about cats; or perhaps long work days; or maybe even one about cats and long work days. Here, I found one for you:
But if you are launching a new brand, or adding a new website to your current brand, then a soft launch is likely on the agenda.
So what are the benefits of a soft launch?
First of all, one important thing to note is that in a world of ever changing: technology; user behaviour; and effective design styles; a website is rarely ever 100% complete, without the need for updates... ever; it just doesn't happen. Launching your site at 85% gets your site out in the light, and ready to be found.
This can be hugely beneficial, especially when it comes to Google SEO (which stands for Search Engine Optimization; or otherwise known as "winning the high spot on Google Search results"). The earlier you launch your site, the sooner Google bots can start: finding it; logging it; labeling it; and adding it to google's search engine (Shameless self promotion: We at MAJC are good at SEO; If you want to win Google, we would love to help). As it is, depending on the competition, it can take weeks, even months before your site is where you want it and customers are flooding into your new, beautiful, user-friendly, online world. If your website is not quite perfect, but completely usable, it won't even matter for the first few days; as your site is still going to be hiding on page 6 thousand of the Google Search engine results. This gives you time to perfect it while the Google bots do their job. They are not lazy bots, there are just a lot of websites in the world; Give them a break.
All the micro updates you make to the site post soft launch will also be beneficial to your SEO results. Every time you add and update your site, it triggers a signal for the bots to know that you are an active, and changing site; this moves you up the list far more quickly.
You and/or your designer will be able to create tweaks to the site as the first few users start wandering around your virtual world. Any good design agency will offer to monitor user behaviour in order to make alterations according to how they travel around your site , helping improve the sites efficiency and user experience (More shameless self promotion: We are one of those 'good' design agencies that offer this service). This experience is easier and better for business in a soft launch world because, instead of a thousand users running into an issue and freaking out about it (causing you to call the virtual fire department to put out all the fires), you get to work out any hiding bugs in a more controlled environment with user input.
I recently soft launched an apparel store from Halifax, NS.
We had completed 90% of the site (and we must say, it's gorgeous! - check it out www.barbaapparel.com - if your reading this blog post close to the day I wrote it, you can watch the site develop over the next few weeks; as we prepare it for a hard, "social media frenzy", launch); but the online store was minimally populated with product, and the shipping rules and coding had not been built in yet; so, instead of waiting for the photo-shoot dates (that is, instead of waiting for photos of the rest of the clothing, and for the owner to get the shipping details worked out with his shipping company), we soft launched the site.
Now, after working SEO coding into the site and letting Google know there was a new website on the block, we are working on: populating the store every few days as photo shoots are completed and pricing comes in; while simultaneously creating amazing SEO friendly updates, giving the website some serious boosting in it's website rankings. In the meantime, the few users that have been finding their way into the online storefront can: see the photo's of the products, fall in love with them, and can contact directly to purchase; all while being notified that online e-transactions are coming soon. They are also being directed to "like" the edgy social media pages, which are in full swing, and therefore, are already attracting attention.
The other option would have been leaving the site sitting on a design editor looking like a bunch of useless code, where the Google Bots could never find it and the new social media fans would never have heard of Barba Apparel.
Soft Launching at it's finest.