Business > Merchant Voice

10 ways that launching a website is like planning a wedding

I’m getting married this year and one of the things I’ve noticed is how many parallels there are between the process of planning a wedding and planning a website launch as I’ve just relaunched my own website.

Just like a wedding, it doesn’t matter if it’s your first, second or third (website launch), it’s still stressful, and if you’ve ever taken the plunge before, the lessons you learnt the first time around may not necessarily protect you from making new mistakes this time!

1. Hosting

You have to host your reception somewhere just as you have to host your website. What sort of help will they give you if there’s a disaster? Do you get a dedicated account manager/function planner? Is there a package you can upgrade to if guests (in this case, customers) grow? Do you need the extras or in-house services?

2. Decoration

How will it look? Will it have all the bells and whistles or are you planning a no-frills event? Is it a DIY job or are you calling in the experts? Will it be themed? What colours are you going to use? Flash now seems as redundant and old-fashioned as an ice swan carving!

3. Entertainment

What have you got that will keep people there, enjoying themselves? Will it be a one-day extravaganza or will you plan lots of smaller lead-up celebration events? What surprises will have them oohing-and-aahing? What have you got they can share on social media?

4. Invitations

While most people footing the bill for a wedding would probably be pleased if they had more invitations declined to reduce costs, the opposite is true of a website launch. However, both a wedding and a website launch require you to obtain and keep spotless records of the guests’ contact details and preferences or you cannot invite them to take part.

5. Low-key and intimate or a splashy affair?

Is your wedding for a select few, celebrated without too much fanfare (ie a soft launch) or will you hire publicity experts and paparazzi to sell your photos into the magazines? How many people do you want to know about your website launch? What if you’re left at the altar (ie something fails to materialise)? Can you cope with the scandal?

6. Our story

I’m sure you’ve been to weddings where, invited as a plus-one, you are still no closer to understanding the history and background of the bride and groom. Other weddings have almost excruciatingly personal accounts complete with embarrassing and teen candid photos. How much information will you share in the About Us page? A bland, generic tale that leaves the customer no more involved or a fairly detailed account that helps you understand the people concerned?

7. Guest list

When you’re young and inexperienced, your first wedding – and website – may be attended by many people who you will no longer see. For weddings and website launches planned once you’re a little more seasoned, you may decide that quality always trumps quantity. And if you’re paying for it yourself (as my fiance and I are, instead of my parents footing the bill), I’d rather have real fans and advocates, than those who are merely warming the seats but who offer nothing. Will it be invitation-only (ie Rue La La and Gilt) or open-house?

8. The wishlist

Many couples getting married create a wedding gift registry of what they’d most like to receive. Since you put a lot of effort into working out your wishes, it can be disappointing not to receive them. In the same way, you may receive some, but not all of your website launch preferences prior to the big day. And usually, some of the most expensive ones are the ones you will have to save up for, yourself.

9. Thank yous

Just as you should when you receive wedding gifts, online retailers need to show good manners and thank customers promptly for their purchases. A handwritten note is always a special touch.

10. Plan for contingencies

It could rain, the celebrant might get waylaid in traffic, or the dress is ruined on the day. But disaster can strike new websites too. Plan for alternative shipping providers, product failures, out-of-stock situations, insufficient staffing levels, power outages, unhappy customers or negative social media feedback. Keep smiling and plough on.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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