Quality assurance typically draws the short end of the stick in the development process, which is unfortunate, as a flawed site has a far greater distance to go in winning user confidence.
Test your site on both PCs and Macintosh computers, as well as a variety of browsers and their varying releases. Check for broken links, missing GIFs and typos. Your message should be clean, clear and free of errors.
Consider a focus group. Gather together a group that hasn't had a part in the development process and introduce them to your site. Pose targeted questions about their experience to ensure that you are meeting the needs of your user base.
Marketing a new site can be an expensive proposition, and while many people have a variety of ideas on how to get your site in front of your desired audience, there is no better value than good listings in search engines.
Develop comprehensive yet succinct descriptions and keywords. Different search engines have different requirements and more isn't necessarily better.
Search engine placement services can cover quite a bit of ground in a short period of time, though not all search engine placement services are the same, and quite a few are downright hooey. Look for a service that has the flexibility to work with all search engines and provides a documented deliverable.
Site updating and maintenance
Keep your content fresh and informative. Stale content and link rot can be the death of any good site. The development process doesn't end with launch.
Appoint a person or team to update your site as needed and respond to any correspondence generated through the Web site. A timely response to any customer query will further engender trust with your users.
E-mails regarding problems with site usage should be passed on to the development team for consideration. An ongoing dialogue between your development team and customer base will ensure that future releases of your site will better meet visitors' needs.
Heather Champ is creative director with jGuru (www.jguru.com).