When you’ve got a brand spanking new website, you want the world to know about it. You can go about this in a number of ways, but it usually means emailing your customers, perhaps posting on Facebook or shouting about it on Twitter. You can, of course, pay to advertise your new digital presence, either in print or online – or the old-fashioned way of just telling someone face to face.
What you don’t want, however, is to be beset with problems when you launch, or even in some case before you launch.
Example 1: The TSB story
Let’s give you a cautionary tale about what happened when TSB Bank announced their new website launch in September 2013.
TSB was being spun off from Lloyds and therefore needed to set up a new customer-facing website. As soon as it went live, it hit problems. So what happened? Many customers reported that they couldn’t even land on the site, the volume of numbers being such that TSB got more attention for their website issues than about the launch itself.
But in some people’s eyes, worse than the actual access problems was the decidedly dated design. It had an old-fashioned feel to it, a cry of ‘it looks like something from 1999’ went up. Twitter didn’t pack any punches either:
Well, I think it's lovely that as TSB de-merges from Lloyds after 18 years, they've finally implemented the web site they designed in 1995.— bruce lawson (@brucel) September 9, 2013
Here at CBW, we very much advocate great design but if a website serves its purpose, then you can overlook a design that isn’t quite 2014. However, if an organisation bills itself as 'Britain's newest bank' then its website should reflect that.
Example 2: Obama’s Healthcare Website
We can look at another example from over the pond of how not to launch. In November 2013, the Obama administration announced that there was going to be yet another delay to its healthcare law (also known as Obamacare). This time it was affecting the online portal selling medical insurance to small businesses.
Instead of going live in 2013, the marketplace website was being put back a year to November 2014. This is all part of the succession of problems that has beset Healthcare.gov, which was launched on 1st October 2013, and the cause of blame for this most recent issue.
The Obamacare law is considered to be the largest overhaul of the US healthcare system since the 1960s. Around 15% of the US population is estimated not to have any health insurance at all. Healthcare.gov was set up to give consumers who don’t receive medical cover through their employers or via state benefits the opportunity to shop online for coverage.
But it’s been one setback after another with the online portal. Slow page loads, outages and all manner of technical issues have been experienced. All of which has meant that far fewer people have signed up than was expected. Much of the consensus was that the website hadn’t been tested thoroughly before going live.
Learning a Few Lessons
It’s not an easy job getting a new website off the ground – all the more reason to leave it to those who know what they’re doing and have the experience to smooth out any glitches!
Launching a site for a company like TSB, which has a history going back 200 years and is subject to strict industry regulations, can be even harder.
But whether it’s a crime of outdated design on one side or a lack of robust load testing on the other, in 2014 when the customer experience is central to your brand and your website, these aren’t much of an excuse.
You want to win your customers’ confidence, and a well-designed, well-supported, well-protected website will do just that.