New Website Woes

Launching a new website is like herding cats.  It is allusive, unpredictable, and ever changing.  No one, not even Google understands the whole business.

I am not a newbie to this internet business.  I launched my first website in 1995.  I will never forget where I was, when I heard about this new-fangled business opportunity.  It sounded unbelievable and exciting. The Internet was the perfect vehicle for selling a specialty product like flags.  A specialty product is something you can’t just buy anywhere; you have to search for it.  PERFECT for the flag business.

My first website, in 1995, was a bunch of frames that loaded funny.  My second one was more like a yellow page ad, kind of a place holder on the web.  But the site I launched in 2000 was the real deal.  It was before you could buy out-of-the-box shopping cart software.  So it was written in house and interfaced with my inventory, and accounting software.  It grew to have tons of organic ranking on Google.

In the world of technology, a 12 year old website is a dinosaur.  So I got a technology grant from TAAC and began the process of redesigning my website in ASP.  Theory being if the old website, that was hard to SEO did so well, think what a new website would do.  It took over a year to work out all the details but finally we launched on March 28,, 2012. We had all our redirects in place but I knew we would still lose sales while the Robots built their confidence in us again.  I weight the costs vs. benefits and thought it was worth doing.  My costs were grossly underestimated.  Our shopping cart sales plummeted by 50% OUCH!    It has been 3 months and still no improvement.  I have heard through the grapevine it can take up to 6 months.

Things I have learned:

  • Even if it costs more to run two websites side by side, do it.  Keep your old one up while you work out the kinks in your new one.
  • Don’t point the traffic to your new website till every little detail is working perfectly.  Don’t say “I will fix that after the launch”.  The Robots see ALL your flaws.
  • Host your own website.  Hosting my website at another location and not having access to servers and programming is frustrating.  You have to get in queue with their other clients to get work done.  When you are losing $4000 a day, “Time is Money”!
  • Salesmen are not the people to talk to when buying technology, they will promise everything.  Once you get into the process you find out the truth from the programmers.
  • Don’t pay your website developer until you are completely happy with the site and all your concerns have been addressed.

The only other advice I can give is… make sure your Karma is aligned, keep your fingers crossed, and say your prayers.  Good luck!