for your department website
I. Pre-Launch Tasks
1. Announce Your Site Launch
Letting your website visitors know that you are launching a new site helps them to prepare for the change, and it also builds excitement about your new site.
Where to Post the Announcement
The announcement about your new website should appear on the main page of your site. Also think of any popular pages in your site that your users may have bookmarked, and consider posting the announcement, or a link to the announcement, on those pages as well.
Suggested Announcement Text
Feel free to use the below text for your announcement. Be sure to customize this blurb by editing the text that is in parentheses and then removing the parentheses.
New (Insert Department Name) Website Launches on (Insert Day of week, Month, Day of Month)
We plan to launch our new (Insert Department Name) site on (Date). When you come to this Web page on or after that day, you will automatically be taken to the new site. If you maintain pages that link directly to pages within our existing site, please revisit our new site after (Insert Date) to determine the new page addresses your links require. If you have any questions about the new site, send them to: (INSER T@bc.edu). We look forward to sharing our new site with you.
2. Request new or a change of aliases
An alias is a short URL that automatically sends users to the longer URL of your page. We recommend an alias be set up for the home page of every site. Aliases are also useful for pages with long URLs that you need to give out to the public on the phone, in print publications, or in presentations.
- An alias takes the form: "http://www.bc.edu/your-alias"
- Aliases should be all lowercase letters and numbers with no spaces. Use a hyphen if needed to represent a space. For example, "acad-depts".
- Select one word or a set of initials that you can use to refer to your office.
- Shorter is generally better (fewer letters to type or mistype).
- Should be easy to say (for giving out over the phone or in a presentation).
- Should be memorable.
- Should avoid undesirable or confusing associations.
|Page Title:||Boston College Shuttle Bus|
|Page Title:||Human Resource Service Center|
To request or change an alias
Use the Alias Request Form to ask for new aliases or modify existing aliases.
- Page Attributes: Displaying an alias in the page footer in addition to the actual page address.
3. Plan redirects from old urls to the new site
The Web address for your new site will be different than the Web address for your old site. To avoid broken links, a member of the Web Support group will work with you on strategies for redirecting traffic from important old pages to comparable new pages. To help you identify key pages for special treatment, ask yourself the following:
To help you identify key pages that should go to their new location instead of to the "Site Has Moved" page, ask yourself the following:
- Which page receives the most visits from my target audience(s)?
- Which Web addresses have been distributed in printed publications (admission guides, bulletins, newsletters, brochures, advertisements)?
- Which pages are visitors most likely to bookmark?
4. Search for A to Z links to your site
You can request that links to your site be updated in A to Z by completing the A to Z Update Request form.
The A to Z section of the Boston College website provides tools for finding the University's Web information resources such as an alphabetical index, organizational pages, and special interest pages. Once your new site is launched, links to your site's home page and to other key pages within your site should appear in A to Z. If you are retiring an old site, the links to your old site should be changed in A to Z to point to your new site.
To request or change entries in BC's A to Z finding aid, fill out the A to Z Update Request form. You should request changes to A to Z about one week before your site's launch date so that the updates can be made as quickly as possible after the new site is publicly available.
5. Search other sites for links to your old site
With the launch of your new site, you may also be retiring an existing site. There may be other BC sites and sites outside of BC that link to your existing site. If you are retiring an existing website, you should identify and contact departments or schools that have created links to your old site and inform them of your new site.
BC Websites with Links to Your Old Site
You can search for these using the Advanced Search form of the BC search engine.
- Set first criteria line to "must contain", "in a link", "the words" (see Figure 1).
- Enter the path to your old site's home page, leaving off the file name.
- Press the Seek button.
The results you receive should be pages on Boston College's Web server that contain links to your old site. Create a report that you can use to contact these departments with your new website information after your new site has been launched. Be sure to provide the URL on their site with the outdated link, the URL of your old page, and the new URL that should replace it.
The note you will send out after the launch of your new site to other schools or departments should be similar to this example: (Replace the bold sections with your content.)
Hello <Jane Doe>,
We are happy to announce the recent launch of a new version of the <Geography> website. Our new site is located at http://www.bc.edu</path/to/your/site>.
We noticed that you have page(s) on your site that link to our old site and would like to provide you with the updated links.
On your <Frequently Asked Questions> page:
Please change the <contact the Geology Department> link from:
To its new location:
Contact me if you need a clarification related to the requested changes.
Thank you for your time.
External websites with Links to Your Old Website
If you are retiring an existing website, there may be links to your old site on websites anywhere in the Web world. You may want to track these down and contact these sites to let them know of your new URL. Look especially at the types of sites that may list your type of organization. Some examples include: College admission guides, departments in the same field in other universities, professional societies and organizations. In some cases these types of links can be found using a Web search engine (e.g. AltaVista). You will probably want to search for a unique portion of your old URL in the same way you did on the BC website. Contact them after the launch of your new site with the recommended changes.
6. Request a Feature on BCInfo
BCInfo is the home page for the Boston College Community. Many students, faculty, and staff visit BCInfo regularly to find out the latest news on campus. This page is maintained by the Office of Public Affairs. One week before the launch of your new site, you should request a featured link for BCInfo that announce the launch and provides visitors with a link to your site;s home page. You may do so by completing the BCInfo University Notice Request form.
7. Temporarily disable Web Services
Determine if new site launch will impact web applications and plan to minimize disruption for users.
If your organization has Web applications that might be affected by the launch of your new site, discuss them with the member of the Web Support group handling your site launch to plan for a smooth transition to the new site. In most instances no special arrangements are needed. In some cases you may decide to disable Web services for a brief period prior to launch.
The BC search engine regularly re-indexes the entire BC website, but you can ensure that your site is added to the search engine more quickly if you initiate the process directly. To do so:
- Go to the Add URL Form (http://search.bc.edu/help/addurl.html) on the Help Page of the search engine.
- In the Add URL input field, paste or enter the full URL of your site's home page in the format:
- Press "OK."
The search engine will immediately index the home page of your site, then begin indexing all the pages linked to it that are on public BC Web servers. Your full site will normally be indexed within a few minutes. Example: To request indexing of the Graduate School of Social Work site, you would enter the following URL in the Add URL form:
As soon as your new site is in production, test any interactive features to be sure they are working as planned. These could include:
- A local search option in the top of the left navigation column.
- Response or request forms on your site.
- Links to Web applications or Web accessible databases.
Now that you have your new site in production and traffic has been redirected away from your old site, you should remove your old site from the www.bc.edu server. This saves space on the server, but more importantly it ensures that no one will find your old pages (through a search engine, an old bookmark, or an off-site link) and think that it is your current site. To remove your old site:
- Use an FTP client to connect to your old site (Dreamweaver will work too.)
- Download a complete copy of all your old files and save them to CD or other archival medium. If you don't have a CD writer or other removable storage option, ask your Technology Consultant for assistance.
- Delete all your files from your old folder on the server.
- Notify your contact in the Web Support group when you have removed your site, or if you run into files that you are unable to delete. He or she can then arrange to have the folder that contained your old site deleted.
Note: If you are launching a new site that only partially replaces your old site, you should make an effort to remove those portions of the old site no longer active as they are superseded by pages in the new site. This will probably result in broken links on some of your remaining, still in use pages that will need to be tracked down and revised.
Your prelaunch preparations included a number of other steps that occur just before or as soon after launch as possible. Here's a check list of items from the prelaunch list that you should be sure are completed.