Would you rather launch a finished and good site now and fine tune it based on user input. Or mull over the details, text, photos and every tiny details and pixel for weeks to maybe achieve that higher level or perfection?
The generic announcement
Some seem to think that having visitors look at a “maintenance” or “we are working on the site” page for weeks or even months is good. Because it tells the visitors something is coming.
True. But it may also work the other way around and make people think;
Oh, it’s not finished yet.
They move on, forget and probably never return. Often a temporary page is not engaging enough for people to bookmark it or even remember it the next day. Thus you lost a visitor and potential customer.
The premature launch
The other route many people take is to just get it out there as fast as possible. Delivering a sub-par experience for users. Incomplete information, unfinished elements in the site. Image placeholders. All the silly stuff of an unfinished product. I think this looks very unprofessional and again, pushes people away.
Well, this is crap…
And they’re gone, never to return. Not good. Especially not if you want to sell something to a broad audience.
Launch when it makes sense
I like to build a site, go over the pages and details a few times over the course of several weeks. Then launch it. Even if it’s not 100% perfect. But that way you can start selling your product or service. The site is complete, offers good information and looks quite nice. But *after* launch. It’s not finished. You still have to revisit pages and items multiple times and fine-tune them. Based on your new ideas, analytics and feedback from the visitors.
What I like to do
I like to build a site over the course of a few weeks. A page per day or something. Imagine how you would want to navigate the site as a visitor and follow that thought. Don’t abide by what the theme or plugins decide is best. It’s your site! Think of where you want certain items and elements. Take a few days to work on the theme, plugins and work out obvious bugs and quirks. After a while you end up with a good and complete site.
Also important is text, perhaps images. Write balanced paragraphs. Insert some graphics here and there. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But the gist of the text should be complete and clear. Make sure it looks well formatted.
And when that’s done; you launch the site.
It’s not finished. It never really is. Every few days/weeks you browse around the site and find something to improve and redo in the site until you can’t think of anything to improve. Getting a lot of questions about certain items? “where can I find this?”, “How does this work?” You probably didn’t put it on the site or if you did, people can’t find it. So figure out a way to make that part of the site easier to find or read.
And after a bunch of months, you don’t get people asking for stuff that’s on the site. You can’t think of anything to improve… Then, it’s time to build a new site.