[This is the final of a three part series that explains the website development process in excruciating detail.  The good news, you will be a pro by the time you've made it through all three trimesters.  Pun intended. You can read part one in this series here.]

Step 9: Launch (three days)

After the PM receives final site approval from your team, the production department will launch the website. Essentially, this means pushing the site from the development environment to “live,” i.e., visible on the Web for others to see. It does not happen instantly—rather, it is a slow crawl of the new pages being recognized by servers. The larger the site, the longer it takes for the site to go live. We will provide you the link (official URL) so you may review the live site and share it with colleagues, friends and family.

As part of this phase, Production conducts yet another round of QA and asks that you help with the same, as sometimes links and other functionalities break during the push to the live environment. Specific issues resulting from the launch are not predictable but are (generally) easily fixed and anticipated. The concern of potential glitches is why we launch sites in the first half of the day and only on Monday through Thursday. We need to allow time for live QA and resolution of any issues that may appear.

One important note: The new website link we provide is the only one to use going forward. The development link we sent during production to review/approve the site prior to going live will no longer work, as those pages no longer exist at that URL. This can cause a lot of consternation when your browser pulls up the development site URL and you receive a “404 Page Not Found” error message! Once the site is live, you will need to clear your browser and type in the new URL—the live link—and share it with anyone else.

For example, when we were in the review phase, your development link may have been www.hopkinsmedicine.org/dev/Service_Line. When your site is live, the link will change to www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Service_Line. That “/dev/” in the URL makes all the difference with respect to viewing your new site. The site is no longer in a “dev” environment and the live site will come up only if you use the correct, updated URL. Another hint: Browsers have memories so you may need to clear your browser’s history for the new URL to work.

Step 10: Post-launch (day 1 live)

The Web team completes a post-launch task list to finish the site. At this time, the site is officially in maintenance mode, which means that the department editor will need to have finished training and been granted access to the content management system in order to make any edits or updates. It is good to keep an eye toward editing dated or irrelevant content, in addition to bios, phone numbers, staff information, etc. We are always here to offer support to the site editor through our Web desk option.

Step 11: Maintenance Phase

Please understand and recognize that living on the Hopkins.org platform means your site will need to conform to branding standards, which can be accessed at http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/webcenter. Any changes or edits need to follow the system-wide branding guidelines. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. The Web team is just one of many departments tasked with ensuring the guidelines are followed—infractions will be noted, and a request will be sent to your editor.

If you wish, we are able to set up auto-generated monthly Google analytic reports to provide a sense of how the site is fairing, which pages are readily viewed and those that are not being viewed. This is good information to gather, as it will help the site maintain relevancy and will guide the group toward future edits.

Step 12: Congratulate Yourself!

Well, you’ve done it. You've created a living, breathing website and can now enjoy all the benefits of being on the Hopkins Medicine platform—including improved search results for your site and videos, inclusion in the Health Library, easier access by those who need to find you, automatic updates to the hopkinsmedicine.org platform websites, Web team support and most of all, bragging rights!

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