How to Successfully Launch a Website in 10 Steps

Learn what steps you need to take before (and after) launching a new website.

Person carrying boxes with checkmarks on them

A website is a versatile marketing tool that works around the clock to help you communicate with your audience. Whether you’re looking for a way to advertise your products, share your work, blog about stuff that interests you, or simply establish an online presence so folks can learn more about you, launching a website of your own can be an important step towards growing your business.

It might seem like a daunting task, but getting started is easier than you might think. There are plenty of tools available to help you create a professional-looking (and budget-friendly) website, even if you have no web design experience.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the steps you’ll need to take as you prepare to launch a new website—and what to do once your page has been published, too.

What to do before launching your website

Before you can welcome visitors into your new online home, there are a few things you’ll need to do.

Step 1: Choose a website builder

When you’re ready to launch a website, the first thing you’ll need to do is decide where—and how—you want to build it. There are a lot of different website building platforms available on the market, each with different features, templates, and design capabilities.

Before selecting a builder, consider your own skill level: If you’re familiar with HTML, you might opt for a platform that gives you more freedom to manually code certain elements of your site. If you’re new to website design or just can’t afford to spend time working with HTML code, you might prefer a platform that offers plenty of pre-built templates or a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to customize the design of the page to fit your needs.

Want to open your own online store and start selling stuff online? We’ve got tips to help you pick the right store builder, too.

Step 2: Pick and register a domain name for your website

A domain name is the online identity of your business, so it’s important to choose one that’s recognizable, fits your brand, and will be easy for your audience to remember.

As you’re considering your options, don’t forget to check the availability of the potential domain names on social media, too. Using the same name across all of your channels can help you establish a unified brand identity and improve your reach.

Once you’ve made your decision, you can purchase the domain name through a registrar (like Google Domains or GoDaddy) or, in some cases, through your website builder directly.

Need a bit more guidance? Read our tips for selecting the right domain name.

Step 3: Select a web hosting provider for your site

Think of a host as a digital landlord for your website and all its content. As your site grows and generates more traffic, your hosting provider can help provide you with extra bandwidth, additional security, and other tools you’ll need as you scale.

Many domain registrars or site builders also offer hosting services, which can be a helpful timesaver for people who are just getting started. But if you’d prefer to research all of your options, this article from Google can help you determine which web host is right for you.

No matter which host you choose, there are 2 important features you’ll want to make sure it offers:

An XML sitemap

At its core, an XML sitemap is essentially just a list of the individual pages that make up your website. It shows the URL of each page, the date each page was last updated, and how important each page is in the overall structure of the site. Search engines (like Google) will use the XML sitemap to find and index all the stuff that lives on your website.

An SSL certificate

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security protocol that allows your audience to establish a safe, encrypted connection between their browser and your website. If you’ve ever noticed a URL that starts with https:// instead of http://, you’ve seen an SSL certificate in action.

An SSL certificate helps ensure that any data submitted through your website—whether that’s a visitor’s login credentials, information sent through a contact form, or even a credit card transaction—is secure.

Step 4: Design your website

Whether you’re using a pre-built template provided by your site-building platform or you’ve opted to develop a custom-coded solution, it’s important to have a clear goal in mind for the design of your website—and each page on it.

When people visit your site for the first time, they should be able to quickly make out who you are and what you’re all about. Be sure the site aligns with any existing aspects of your business that might be recognizable to your audience, like branding, imagery, or color palette, for example.

You’ll also want to consider all the different page elements you’ll need to operate (and promote) your business. If you’re a blogger, make sure your posts are front and center, and give visitors an easy way to share them on social media. If you’re planning to sell goods or services, your website should include compelling product pages that grab visitors’ attention and encourage them to buy.

Remember: If visitors can’t find what they’re looking for on your website, they’re going to move on to another one. In fact, studies have shown that 55% of people spend less than 15 seconds on any given website, so make sure yours is easy to navigate and eye-catching.

Your site should be mobile responsive

A mobile responsive website is designed to look great (and provide visitors with the same content) whether it’s being viewed on a desktop computer, a smartphone, or anything in between. And since 52% of all web traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones in 2018, a responsive site is a must-have for any business looking to establish a web presence.

Many site builders offer templates that are mobile responsive right out of the box, so it’s easy to build a site that meets the needs of your audience (even if you’re not an experienced web designer).

Consider accessibility, too

While designing your website, make accessibility a priority. This means that anyone who visits your site, regardless of any disabilities they might have, should be able to read and engage with your content.

A website that’s inclusive and accessible to all potential visitors not only creates a better user experience for everyone, but it can also help you expand your audience. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you build your site:

  • Include descriptive alt text on your images so that visitors who are using a screen reader will understand what messages your images are conveying.
  • Choose colors that contrast well with each other so that everyone who visits your site can tell the difference between the text, background, and other page elements.
  • Make your content scannable with headings (H1, H2, etc.), which help screen readers determine the structure of your site and the importance of each headline.
  • Your links should make sense, even when read out of context. Instead of using phrases like “click here” to indicate that there’s clickable text present, your links should contain some distinguishing information about where the link goes.

For more web accessibility tips, visit the accessibility section of the World Wide Web Consortium.

Step 5: Learn the basics of SEO

SEO—or search engine optimization—is a process used to increase the visibility of (and traffic to) your website through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Here are a few basic SEO elements that you can easily incorporate into your site to improve your search ranking:

Keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases that people type into search engines when they’re looking for information about a particular topic. By strategically including some of those same keywords in your URLs and other web content, you’ll make it easier for search engines to locate your site and suggest it to potential visitors.

If you’re not sure where to get started with keywords, check out tools like Answer The Public or Google’s Keywords Planner. They can help you identify the most popular search terms and find the right keywords for your business.

Title tag

Title tags play a key role in communicating the purpose of pages on your website to search engines and potential visitors. They’re used to determine the site headline that gets displayed in search results, when shared on social networks, and in the browser tab once someone visits the site.

Meta description

A meta description is a brief (usually 160 characters or less) summary of your webpage. It appears beneath the clickable title tag on the search results page, and it’s your chance to sell your website to potential visitors and convince them to click.

As the name suggests, internal links are links that point to other pages on your website. From an SEO perspective, they’re useful for helping search engines determine the structure and page hierarchy of your site. But they’ll also help make navigation a lot easier for your audience.

High-quality, original content

Search engines want to provide their users with the most useful, relevant content possible. For that reason, frequently-updated websites that offer readable, unique content will generally rank higher in search results than sites that aren’t updated regularly or contain a bunch of duplicate content that can be found elsewhere on the web.

Step 6: Add an email signup form to your website

No matter what type of business you run, email marketing can be a great way to build and maintain a relationship with your audience. When you add a signup form to your website and collect email addresses from visitors, you can start sharing updates about your services, content, products, and anything else that might be of interest.

Want to take things a step further? Ask for additional information from new contacts—like their birthday, interests, or location, for instance—to create even more personalized, relevant content.

If you’re a Mailchimp user, you can add a customized embeddable or pop-up signup form to any page of your new website. (And when you’re ready to start sending emails, we make that easy, too.)

Step 7: Test everything

Your website will be the first interaction that many members of your audience have with you (or your business), so it’s crucial that you leave a good impression. Before you announce your site to the world and start welcoming visitors, check to make sure everything works as it's supposed to.

Preview your site on all the popular browsers

Your website should look great no matter how your audience accesses it, which makes testing across different browsers a must. View your new site on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, and any other browser (desktop or mobile) you might have access to. Check that everything—from fonts to forms—renders correctly. If you’d prefer to expedite the testing process, you might want to consider using a service like BrowserStack.

Perform a speed test

Research has shown that 47% of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less, while 40% of consumers will give up and leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

The loading speed of a website can be negatively affected by a bunch of different factors, including plugins, large images, or superfluous HTML code. A speed test will help you determine if there’s anything on your site that’s slowing it down—and trying the patience of your audience as a result.

A broken (or incorrect) link on your website can create a bad experience for your visitors. Make sure each link on your page—whether it’s an internal or external link—is working correctly and directs people to the intended location.

Test all of your forms

If you’ve added an email signup form to your site, try subscribing with your own address to make sure the form is working and that any automated messages you’ve created (like a welcome email, for example) arrive as expected. Similarly, if you’ve added a contact or feedback form to your site, check to make sure that the form not only accepts submissions correctly but that you receive them, too.

What to do after launching your website

Once your site has been published, there are a few additional steps you can take to help you generate traffic—and to learn more about the folks who visit.

Step 8: Connect your website to Google Analytics

Every website owner wants to know how their site is performing and how visitors are engaging with the site’s content. Google Analytics is a free tool that will help you learn more about your audience’s demographics, how much time they’re spending on your site, and which site pages they’re visiting. You can then use these insights to determine what’s working, what isn’t, and what you can do to improve your website in the future.

Step 9: Submit your website to Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool that can help you better understand how your website is performing. With Search Console, you’ll learn how often your site is shown in Google search results, which search terms are driving people to your website, and how many people are clicking on your site in the search results. It can also tell you if there are any issues that are affecting Google’s ability to find content on your site, alert you to the steps you can take to improve your site’s ranking in Google searches, and more.

Step 10: Start marketing your website

Marketing is the key to driving awareness about your website and getting new people to visit. In this section, we’ll outline a few of the marketing tools that can be particularly useful when launching a new website—and you can do it all with Mailchimp.

Promote your website on social media

Share a link to your website across all of your social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or anywhere else your audience might be. Then, go a step further with eye-catching Facebook and Instagram ads targeting specific groups of people—like folks who live in a certain location or are within a certain age range. These ads can help you reach a large, untapped audience and drive more traffic to your new website.

Offer incentives to boost site traffic and attract new signups

Incentives can be an effective way to generate excitement within your audience and encourage them to visit your new site. You could create a promo code that allows folks who come to your site and sign up to receive your emails a free download or a discount on their next purchase. Or, you might decide to announce a contest and give your first 200 site visitors the chance to win a one-of-a-kind gift or special prize pack. It’s completely up to you, so be creative!

Use automations to stay in touch with your audience

Automated emails are a great way to send out the right message to the right people at exactly the right time. With Mailchimp’s automation tools, you can:

  • Show new contacts they’re appreciated by sending an automated welcome message after they sign up on your website
  • Send an email—complete with a special offer or discount—each year on a contact’s birthday
  • Create an email from your blog’s RSS feed so folks will never miss a post
  • Bring people back to your online store with automated abandoned cart emails And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; automation will also make it easy to reward your most loyal customers or supporters, re-engage folks you haven’t heard from in a while, and a whole lot more.

Send a postcard

Postcards can help you stand out from the crowd and give your audience something tangible to remember you by. They’re a fun, friendly way to introduce yourself to new contacts, announce a new release, invite folks to an upcoming event, or anything else you’d like.