Lessons Learned from a Launch Party
Congratulations to our client North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University on the launch of their new site! We’re proud of how we helped them create a web presence that is inspiring, easy-to-use, and supports their strategic plan. Their newly minted site has been live for only two weeks, but early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and traffic to the site has increased. Nicole Pride, our main point of contact and the project leader on the NCA&T side, is a superstar.
For the rest of our readers, I wanted to relay some lessons I learned at the NCA&T launch party. Whaaaat? Just hear me out. A month before the new site went live, we were invited to the launch party luncheon. The first thing that struck me about the invitation was that not many of our clients bother to host a official launch party at all. Because of this, we would be attending the event without expectations.
The big day arrived. My colleague Greg Zguta and I met in Raleigh and headed to Greensboro. The party was a catered event hosted in a nice, formal space on campus. Slowly people began to arrive. Eventually the room had filled up with more than 150 faculty and staff members who had written, edited, and migrated content to the new site. Below are a few things I observed during the event.
The party was a great way to thank content contributors.
A&T reworked and deployed over 1,800 pages in under a year in a new CMS, making it one of the most ambitious web relaunches we’ve ever seen. To pull it off, the A&T project team had to move very quickly on training and hold contributors to strict deadlines. By throwing a special party just after launch, the project team was able to publicly thank faculty and staff and celebrate what they had accomplished. They also awarded gift bags to five people in the room who had gone above and beyond the call of duty to get the site live on schedule.
The party was a chance for institutional leaders to show how much they value the site (and the work needed to maintain it).
Chancellor Harold Martin, Vice Chancellor Barbara Ellis, and other key leaders on the A&T side spoke at the launch party. This was a way of sending an important message to a room full of faculty and staff: leadership takes the new website seriously, and they value the work content contributors are doing to sustain the new site.
The party was a call-to-arms for additional work.
Like nearly all institutional sites with a page count in the thousands, there are still areas of the NCA&T site that need new content after launch. The project team used the last few minutes of the luncheon to talk through the work that still needs to be done to finish up certain areas.
I walked away from the luncheon convinced that every college, university, and school deploying a site with multiple content contributors should throw a party after launch.