Best way to roll out major changes to a site?


4

We've been working on a new version of Bright Journey for a long time now and it's finally coming to fruition (putting the final touches).

There are some changes that might initially disorient regular users of the site. There's no way for us to only release one feature at a time (the entire site is a different codebase).

What's an optimal way of deploying:

  1. Deploy on a different subdomain and ask the community for feedback. Con: could cause duplicate content issues with Google.
  2. A/B split test by only showing the new site to half the visitors.
  3. Completely replace the current site and take it as it comes.

Which approach would you recommend and why?

Launch Strategy Web App Bright Journey

asked Jul 24 '15 at 06:41
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Nishank Khanna
4,253 points

2 Answers


2

I would've blogged about it as it was under development, so regular users and new potential users could get a preview & headstart on the new conventions, and you could've gotten early feedback. I'd also have done a closed (thus avoiding duplicate content penalties) alpha test to get the power users (and the most interested of new potential users from the blog) on board with it and again gotten feedback to make quality-of-life improvements and bug-fixes while the experience was still framed as an "alpha" / you're-part-of-the-process work in progress.

But apparently it's already built and waiting to go, so... too late for that. =)

I'd put up an announcement post with lots of screenshots that tours us through the new version, and sets a date for when it will be implemented (next Monday, August 3rd?), assuming people don't universally hate it. (Really doubt we would, but it's worth saying since that's how services like digg have met their downfall before: rolling out a totally new version with little user input and no chance to stop it.)

Looking forward to trying it!

answered Jul 27 '15 at 22:06
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Jay Neely
6,050 points
  • Definitely agree with this. I wish I had known this was happening. I would have loved to opt in and see a preview, even if it were just in the form of screenshots/mockups. I'd aim for getting us that as soon as possible, even if that means just putting it directly on the site. We'll figure it out. And let's be honest, it's not like there are loads and loads of veteran users here. There's a handful of regulars who aren't likely to leave because of a somewhat different UX, and a whole lot more pop-ins, who won't know the difference anyway. – rbwhitaker 2 years ago
  • Thanks for your great feedback guys! I'll post screenshots and details on the changes. Most of the new stuff is things that have been on the roadmap for a long time. – Nishank Khanna 2 years ago
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1

A/B or display a banner allowing people to click to "see"/enable the new version. I've seen several sites lately deploy new sites by letting people test it on their own and choose whether to stay on the new version or revert back with the click of a links.

Two examples are reddit.com's mobile and ksl.com, a large news/media site in Rocky Mountains. Both allowed opting in to the new version with an easy ability to opt back out. Seems to be the best of both worlds.

answered Jul 27 '15 at 16:42
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Launch Strategy Web App Bright Journey