Post-Launch, Part 2: Payoff and Performance

March 10, 2011

Posted in Governance, Marketing, Measurement, and Web Industry.

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In Part 1: The Dangers of Letting Your Website Stagnate, I argued that a website project never really ends – that the risks of leaving a website alone can actually cost you money, and not just from missed opportunities.

So what do you do after launch? The answer to that begins before launch.

Setting Up Your Post-Launch Process

Who will own the site?

Early in any project, we try to determine who is going to manage a website after it launches. If you’re scrambling to find that person afterwards, you’re going to struggle right away. It’s like stopping your song mid-refrain to find a guitarist to finish the second half.

Web Governance: When and How You Will Run the Site

Even if you have a single person assigned to “own” the site, let’s be honest: that person doesn’t really own it. There are always stakeholders, decision-makers, and people who can pull rank and screw it all up. Set expectations early by authorizing the site owner to lead an advisory group (note that I avoid the word committee) and invite stakeholders to participate. Schedule regular meetings and call people together. Take minutes. (Yes, it’s a committee.) But here’s the trick: this group is not making group decisions or approvals. The group provides input and advice, hears your well-reasoned and valid arguments for the ongoing changes you want to make, and acts as a sounding board for innovation.

Build Your Measurement Plan

Here’s a critical mistake many higher ed clients still make: they want a website, not results. It’s easy to forget that the whole point is to accomplish a business goal. One of the best ways to ensure that you keep this in perspective is to identify your key performance indicators – KPIs – early in the project. What will a successful website look like? Which things will you measure once it’s live? How will you know you succeeded? Bring your reports to the regular governance meetings to help guide your ongoing success.

After You Launch

Based on this work before you launch, you’re set up for after you launch. Host regularly scheduled meetings with the right people, review sensible measurement plans, clearly identify the ongoing ownership, and understand the process for continued maintenance. Sounds like a winning formula, doesn’t it?