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1. Go live

The purpose of this phase is to make a finished, validated site available to and known to the public or to the intended target audience of the site.

Description

This section provides a comprehensive review of the series of actions necessary to bring a site “to life”, including publicity-related actions aimed to connect the site with its intended audience, technical actions such as the transfer of the final site onto servers in DIGIT-DC and the final checks to be done before shift to production mode, as well as the necessary planning, follow-up and co-ordination related activities. Other actions for specialised sites may also be needed, such as training, dissemination of more detailed documentation on the site, etc.

Activities

  • Transfer site to test environment (where applicable with an assistance of DIGIT/DC)
  • Final checking (quality assurance) of the website on the production server
  • CAB approval for putting an dynamic application into production (prerequisite:
    • tests (functional, performance, failover) performed successfully
    • the monitoring in place
    • configuration management database updated
  • Transfer site to production server(s)
  • Final checking of the site on the production server
  • Start implementing promotion strategy (make sure your site can be found in search engines)
  • Execute cross-promotion with external entities
  • Coordinate external events integration with site
  • Site hand-over
  • Training

Quality assurance/ Evaluation criteria

The content to be publish must be compliant with IPG publishing rules, validated against QC checklist.

Inputs

  • Completed and final version of site
  • Checklist of the reception procedure (DIGIT-DC)
  • Communications strategy
  • Promotion plan
  • Quality control report(s)
  • Corrected version of the site
  • Accesses granted to the test and production environments
  • Transfer request

Outputs

  • Dynamic application Sign-off (DIGIT-DC)
  • Site in production (online)
  • Distributed publicity materials
  • Transfer report
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1.1. Promotion of a website

Any launch of a new website, revamp of an existing site or new functionality addition to a site, should be communicated as wide as possibly to users both within and outside the European institutions.

The information communicated should be aimed at increasing the visibility and popularity of the new site and should stress its usefulness, improvements and novelty in order to increase the number of users and pass its message to the widest possible and most relevant audience.

Promoting a website usually involves a set of activities before, during and/or after the official launch. You may involve both internal and external parties or resources and a single means or a variety of different means. It might be destined to a specific target audience or to a variety of target audiences.

All information related to the promotion of a website should be defined and included in a separate communication plan, or could be part of a wider communication plan.

Communication plan

Promotional actions should be planned well in advance and not be left until late in the development phase. The timing of promotional activities should be defined in the relevant communication plan, and is closely related to the project’s timetable.

Promotional actions can take place at the publication of a new site, during an event, or when a new or important piece of information becomes available. They may continue after that time and can be anticipated and planned in order to best raise awareness and interest.

Read more about Communication plan.

Planning

Promotion of a site involves short-, mid- and long-term planning. Actions have to be determined and tasks and responsibilities have to be allocated. It is important to decide who will be informed about the new website, how, when and where:

  1. Internally, before and when the project is being launched (within the DGs and Services, web editors network, EUROPA webmasters Forum, CEiii)
  2. Externally, when the site becomes available online (New on EUROPA).

Evaluation

In order to evaluate the promotion exercise, it is necessary to find out and demonstrate concretely how it has paid off (i.e. monitoring closely statistics,  possible increase in the number of visitors, increase in being referenced by search engines, being mentioned in blogs, social networks, etc.) Gathering, analysing and reviewing systematically such data against previous site statistics would be a good evaluation start.

Documents

Output

  • Announcement on EUROPA
  • Announcement on other related sites
  • Press release
  • CD-ROM
  • Flyers and mini posters
  • Referencing in search engines
  • Published articles in newsletters
  • Message(s) posted in mailing lists, blogs, social networks
  • Placement of promotional banner

Contact

Further information on promotion issues can be requested by email to the EUROPA team

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1.1.1. How to prepare a Communication Plan?

Your communication plan will help you to define your communication goals and use the right means to achieve them. Timing is of essence. You can plan promotional activities over a specific period of time and during one or more project steps.

1. Determine goals

You have to start by defining the goals of the communication campaign. Goals can be:

  • To increase product sales/success: it could be a new "product" or an existing improved "product" that you want to promote.
  • To become better known.
  • To announce/promote a precise event, policy or political initiative.

2. Identify target audiences

Each goal should address at least one relevant target audience. Knowing well your audience(s) in advance will help you to select appropriate messages and better way(s) to deliver them.

3. Determine resources

You have to envisage the necessary resources:

  • human resources/time
  • material/financial resources
  • technological expertise and technological means available.

4. Identify key messages

Key messages are the concepts that you want your audience to remember from your communication campaign. These messages should be carefully selected and woven through all of your communication materials and activities.

5. Determine channels of communication

You will choose one or more different ways of communication in priority/importance order. Read more in Promotion channels and tools page.

  • Non-media communication: includes telemarketing, exhibitions, fairs, "open doors" events. A wide audience cannot be reached by means of non-media communication.
  • Media communication: electronic media (television, radio, video, Internet, CD-ROM, etc.), booklets, newspapers, etc. Large audiences can be reached in a short period of time.

6. Budget

You have to evaluate the needed amounts to realise your communication plan and prepare a budget. An extra 10% of the final estimate should be included in order to anticipate unforseen/unplanned changes and obstacles in the develoment of the plan.

7. Evaluation (impact assessment)

Each communication activity should be evaluated to measure how much it contributed to the  pre-defined goals. Information can be gathered by tracking visits to your Intranet or Internet site, and receiving mails with compliments or complaints or direct feedback when in direct contact with your audience(s).

Read more about communication plan on Helping you communicate on DG Communication website.

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1.1.2. Promotion channels and tools

There are different ways of promoting your new website. Once you have identified your target audience, you will have to find the most appropriate ways to reach it. Below you will find some popular strategies.

1. Get found in searches

In order to find information, more than 80% of the users of the Internet use search engines available on the net. One of the most efficient methods for your site to get found is therefore by referencing your site in search engines and directories (either manually or automatically).

The term “search engine” is often used generically to describe both crawler-based search engines (e.g. Google) and human-powered directories (e.g. Yahoo). These two types of search engines gather their listings in radically different ways and do not cover the same way different geographical regions or linguistic areas. Make sure that your website is registered into all the major national and international search engines and directories of the Member States.

Read more about Search Engine Optimization of your site's content.

 

2. Linking

The more relevant sites that link to your site, the better. It boosts your ranking and helps potential users find your site. Keep informed related web portals and sites (other institutions, universities), using mailing lists, RSS feeds, discussion groups, social media, online newspapers, etc.

You can also create a small promotional button/banner with a link pointing towards your website and ask other EUROPA webmasters to add it if possible on their pages. Representations webmasters can also include the button in order to promote your website locally.

Consult the page about Promotional link buttons.

3. Newsletters on-line

A newsletter either in electronic or in paper format could be one of the most effective marketing tools for a site or portal. It could also be a good way to draw attention to the news published on the website.

4. Participation in fairs, seminars and congresses

Identify fairs, seminars and congresses of interest to your target audience and demonstrate the advantages of your site either through direct demonstrations to users or through support material (CD-ROMs, brochures, etc.)

5. Online advertising

Online advertisements consist mainly of buying banner adverts or ad words. It is only allowed for specific campaign sites and NOT for promoting regular EUROPA websites.

Banners are advertisement areas, mostly at the header of the website. But, be aware, they are so obvious and dominant on a page, that a lot of people just simply ignore them.

Advertisers pay to have their ads displayed when a user searches a specific keyword or set of keywords. On other sites, a targeted ad may always be displayed on certain topic-specific pages of a site, or have a higher frequency of display in the banner rotation on that page. Bear in mind that many sites displaying banner ads usually have a banner rotation program. The banner rotation script can present a different ad each time the page is visited.

Google offers ad words. You create ads and choose keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business. When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to the search results. So you're advertising to an audience that's already interested in you. With ad words you pay per click! You need to set a maximum budget or set yourself a number of clicks threshold.

6. Announcement in the press/TV

You can also advertise your site through national and European TV (e.g. Euronews), or the local press through announcements in magazines and periodicals. Do not forget the online press either. Some wellknown online newspapers have direct links to EUROPA and you could ask for a link to your new portal to be added in a relevant section.

7. Mailing lists

Warn in advance delegations, representations, EuroInfo Centres, etc. and send them on time promotional material (posters, CD-ROMs, brochures, gadgets, etc.)

8. Press releases

Coordinate with your spokesperson to produce an appropriate and well-written press release. You can send press releases to periodicals and magazines of your target group and mention the URL of your portal. Certain commercial sites could also distribute your press releases, against payment, to their online periodicals and magazines. 

9. Internal communication

10. Promotion tools on EUROPA

Definition: On-line, user-friendly, one-stop-shop, forward planner previewing all important events, decisions and actions by the main EU Institutions, in all policy fields.

Admissible documents and information: Content: short, factual information; instant links to background information (pictures, videos, sounds, documents, websites, etc.); direct contact details.

Frequency of update: Added during the week as necessary.

Deadline: No deadline.

Languages: In English.

Whom to contact: Each DG has designated an 'EU Calendar correspondent' to contribute events in the DG's field of activity.

DefinitionTake Part is the section of EUROPA where we present ways for people to interact with the EU, for example via blogs, consultations, debates, visits and competitions, all together in one place. The list of open competitions has an RSS feed that can be integrated in other websites. All institutions, bodies and agencies can apply.

Admissible documents and information:

The request should include the following information

  • title of the competition (in 24 languages if available, but we can also provide translation of the link text)
  • link to the competition page (preferably hosted on EUROPA server and available in 24 languages)
  • opening and closing dates (so we know when to publish/remove the link)
  • who can participate in the competition (age, countries, profession, individuals or organisations, etc.)

If the competition occurs every year, we would like to include it in one of the subcategories. In that case, you should also send us the logo of the competition or a relevant picture.

Frequency of update: When necessary.

Deadline: No deadline.

Languages: 24 languages if available.

More information:

Whom to contactCOMM EUROPA Management  

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1.1.3. Promotional link-buttons

The purpose of the promotional link-buttons is to provide illustrated links to one’s website without having to use a textual hyperlink or a link description in many languages.   Such "buttons"   can be more visually stimulating (and therefore attract more attention), flexible and easily interchangeable (they do not have to be permanent), user-friendly (the user intuitively clicks on them) and they do not require much editorial intervention. During the last EUROPA evaluation in 2008 when users were asked if they use these buttons to access related information through the homepage of EUROPA   a staggering majority of them said "no" as they thought that they had to do with pre-paid commercial advertisement. This is the reason why it was decided not to include them anymore in the EUROPA homepage and the Commission site homepage. However, it is left up to the individual webmaster's discretion to decide using them when it is thought useful for specific sites and in particular instances.

Description

Link-buttons can be used for the promotion of your new website.

The buttons always have to be of the following dimensions: width=150, height=56,

They should always contain an alt text,

They should be of high quality but light,

If text appears on them, then the buttons need to be provided in all linguistic versions or at least the linguistic versions of all the pages they appear in.

Timing/Frequency

The design/development of a link-button precedes the date of the beginning of the site’s online campaign. All the actions described under “Steps” should be complete before the link-button is used online. The same button can be used several times in the same way, according to promotional needs and the topical nature of the site promoted.

Steps

You can subscribe banner advertisement on other web pages against payment. Banners are advertisement areas, mostly at the header of the web site. There is one disadvantage with the banner ads, they are so prevalent that they might be ignored or, as previously mentioned, percieved as pre-paid advertising. That is why you could use a targeted ad which is aimed at a specific audience. On the search engines, there are the advertisers that pay to have their ads displayed when a user searches a specific keyword or set of keywords. On other sites, a targeted ad may always be displayed on certain topic-specific pages of a site, or have a higher frequency of display in the rotation on that page (Bare in mind that many sites displaying banner ads have a banner rotation program. The banner rotation script can present a different ad each time the page is visited).

  1. Think of what your needs are for the promotion and make sure the text you have planned to appear on your button can be translated or matches the text on your website.
  2. Make sure you choose a design (colours, shapes…) that matches your site’s look, logo/visual identity
  3. Ideally ask the designer who designed your site to also design your button. In any case, make sure you arrange the design in advance.

 

  1. Ask the designer to design your link-button, following the specifications under “Description".
  2. Once you have finalised your button, send it and all its linguistic versions to COMM EUROPA Management. In your e-mail indicate the filename you would prefer for your button and its linguistic versions availability.
  3. The button will be saved centrally in Documentum under http://europa.eu/images/promo/ or http://ec.europa.eu/images/promo/, and the filename(s) and complete path will be communicated to you. Once you’ve got the complete address reference, fill in this Word documentmsw8, replacing the text in grey italics. Then, you should place an announcement on the collaborative site of the EUROPA Forum with the word document attached for dissemination within the webmasters community. 
  4. When you get requests from people to link to your site using one of your buttons or when you ask others to link to your site using your button(s), you should provide them with this documentmsw8 containing the complete HTML mark-up code(s) to include in their page(s) or simply the code itself as follows (replace italics by actual text): <a href="complete URL of your site/page to be promoted"><img border="0" src="http://europa.eu /images/promo/your file name" width="150" height="56" alt="alternative text in relevant language"></a>
  5. You can provide “how to link to” instructions in the FAQs section of your site or attach them to the Word document you send containing the linking codes. An example of “how to link to” instructions can be found on http://europa.eu/abouteuropa/faq/q43/index_en.htm.
  6. DO NOT under any circumstances send the actual link-button to anyone you want to provide a link to your site (unless the promotion link-button is placed in a closed environment within an EU Institution/DG/Service – for example the intranet(s)). You will lose track of how many people you have sent it to, and if at any point your site changes name or you need to change, update or redesign your button(s) for any reason, you will have to chase people in order for them to replace the button(s). In the event of a button’s update, change or redesign, you just have to communicate the new button(s) to COMM EUROPA Management with the relevant filename(s) of the button(s) that need to be replaced, and these will be replaced centrally. This way, whoever has linked to your site using your button(s) (via the above-mentioned code) will now have the updated button(s) on their pages.
  7. Provide a copyright notice in the relevant FAQ and explicitly warn the users of the implications/disadvantages of copying the actual buttons rather than using the code
  8. You can provide a preview of your button(s) on one of your site’s pages or provide the relevant preview link to the users (i.e. http://europa.eu/images/promo/filename).

 

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1.2. Use of social media in EU communication

Mandatory requirementCommission staff is expected to act in accordance with the Staff Regulations when communicating online. Social media widgets should not be embedded on EUROPA websites.
Link to your social media pages using plain text links.
Read more.

View all IPG Rules

Social media refer to online technologies and practices that are used to share opinions and information, promote discussion, and build relationships. They use a variety of different formats, including text, pictures, audio and video.  

More and more EU citizens are active on social networks. The European Commission therefore uses these platforms to reach out and connect with citizens and stakeholders in addition to the communication which takes place via more traditional channels such as written press, broadcasters and EU publications and websites.

The Commission distinguishes social media use for the following purposes:

  • communication on political priorities
  • stakeholder and campaign communication
  • use of social media in staff members' own capacity

Communication on political priorities

The purpose of this type of communication is relaying official announcements, press releases and statements in a consistent and coherent way. This communication will be done 'on behalf of the Commission' by a designated group of staff members, the Social Media Network (SMN).

This network of mandated staff in the DGs and Representations will therefore work closely together with the Spokespersons' Service (SPP).

Naming conventions

Mandated staff are at least connected on Twitter and use branded account names (including EU or EC) such as:

These usernames should, if possible, also be used on other social networks, like Facebook and Flickr to ensure consistency.

Examples

Stakeholder and campaign communication

The purposes of this type of communication vary from

  • informing citizens
  • sharing experiences
  • promoting policies or campaigns and
  • engaging with stakeholders

This form of communication is conducted by the lead DG, service or agency in close coordination with DG Communication and in cooperation with the Social Media Network.

The lead DG entity develops and revises its own social media strategy based on common good practice guidance jointly developed under the auspices of DG Communication. Any decision to engage on social media must be preceded by a “fitness check”, i.e. whether the planned action is "fit for purpose" including a thorough assessment whether the available resources match the envisaged level of ambition. The EUROPA site provides information on what is already available: Connect with EU on social networks.

Social media have an important scope for interaction and engagement with interested groups on EU-related themes and activities, but each DG has to take into account the specific policy, its context, target audiences and the available resources.

Examples

Find more information and best practices on the Social media wiki.

Social media use by staff in their personal capacity

European Commission staff members who are active users of social media in their personal capacity should note in their profiles that statements and opinions are personal and that they do not represent the official position of the Commission if they mention in the profile where they work.

As Commission official, the participation in social media is subject to the Staff Regulations and the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour, in the same way as participation in other media. DG Communication and DG Human Resources and Security have made particular guidelines for all staff on the use of social mediapdf(197 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .

 

Use on EUROPA websites

The main guidelines governing the Commission's use of social media are listed below:

  • Commission staff may use social media for personal and professional purposes but is expected to act in accordance with the Staff Regulations when communicating online (Guidelines for all staff on the use of social mediapdf(197 kB) Choose translations of the previous link ).
  • Social media widgets (such as Facebook 'Like' button, Twitter feeds plug-in, Youtube videos, etc.) should not be embedded on EUROPA sites because they compromise business continuity and the privacy of EUROPA users. For more information, read the guidelines on the use of third-party tools and services on EUROPA sites. 
  • Link to your social media pages using plain text links. You could add to the text link the social media official icon but you must ensure the image fully complies with the legal requirements of the branding or registered trademark. For more information, read the guidelines on linking to external sites and the different branding legal guidelines (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)

Resources

DG Communication Social Media team guides all staff in the use of social media. It is in charge of coordinating the Social Media Network. The team provides practical guidance on social media use, looks into the best training opportunities, and promotes cooperation between various Commission networks.

Functional Mailbox: COMM SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM

In addition, the Social Media team is tasked with monitoring trends and the Commission's presence on social media, prospecting the communication landscape for emerging innovative communication tools, techniques and/or approaches, assessing their added value for use in the Commission and managing their implementation.

Find out more:

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1.2.1. Social bookmarking and networking

The Social bookmarking and networking allows users to share web pages' contents. Contents are shared using social networks or e-mails.

Description

The Social bookmarking and networking tool helps website publishers spread their content across the web, by making it easy for visitors to bookmark and share content to their favorite social destinations. This service is:

  • Multilingual
  • Can display the number of times an item has been shared (optional)
  • Can be integrated on any HTML web page (JavaScript)

This is a central service; you do not have to install the files on your website to use it. The required files to run this service are hosted on both domains http://ec.europa.eu and http://europa.eu/ under the same directory structure.

New features

  • The first set of sharing options now include Pocket and Yammer. These networks are also available as individual buttons.
  • 'via @EU_Commission' is still appended by default to the Tweet for pages in the ec.europa.eu domain but is now customizable.
  • The URL is dynamically shortened by the corporate service.
  • The title is cropped at 90 characters. The maximum length is configurable.
  • 'via @EU_Commission' is appended to the Tweet for pages in the ec.europa.eu domain.

Main features

Individual share buttons

  • Choose from the most commonly used networks.
  • 3 specifiable icon sizes.
  • Specify your own order of buttons.
  • Choose the text accompanying the buttons. Available in 24 languages.
  • No cookies!

Share with email, social network or bookmark to your favorites

 

Statistics for webmasters

 

Example

EC Europa

Default style. Counter is not displayed.

Example

DG Research

A counter is displayed and indicates the number of times an item has been shared.

Example

Software used

Software used :

  • PHP, HTML and JavaScript.

 

EU cookie law

This service does not generate or use cookies.

Documentation

How to request this service

Free to use. You do not need to fill in a request form. Please have a look at the documentation/examples just above.

Training

No training available. Please check the documentation/example above for more information.

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1.3. How search engines work

This section deals with background details only and does not give any practical tips on how to optimise your pages for search engines.

For that, see Search engines - getting your content found .

What is a search engine?

A search engine is a coordinated set of programmes that includes:

  • A spider (also called a "crawler" or a "bot") that goes to every page or representative pages on every Web site that wants to be searchable and reads it, using hypertext links on each page to discover and read a site's other pages
  • A program that creates a huge index (sometimes called a "catalogue") from the pages that have been read
  • A program that receives your search request, compares it to the entries in the index, and returns results to you

An alternative to using a search engine is to explore a structured directory of topics. Yahoo, which also lets you use its search engine, is the most widely-used directory on the Web. A number of Web portal sites offer both the search engine and directory approaches to finding information.

 

Crawler-based search engines, such as Google, create their listings automatically. They "crawl" or "spider" the web, then people search through what they have found.

If you change your web pages, crawler-based search engines eventually find these changes, and that can affect how you are listed. Page titles, body copy and other elements all play a role.

Crawler-based search engines have three major elements. First is the spider, also called the crawler. The spider visits a web page, reads it, and then follows links to other pages within the site. This is what it means when someone refers to a site being "spidered" or "crawled." The spider returns to the site on a regular basis, such as every month or two, to look for changes.

Everything the spider finds goes into the second part of the search engine, the index. The index, sometimes called the catalogue, is like a giant book containing a copy of every web page that the spider finds. If a web page changes, then this book is updated with new information.

Sometimes it can take a while for new pages or changes that the spider finds to be added to the index. Thus, a web page may have been "spidered" but not yet "indexed." Until it is indexed -- added to the index -- it is not available to those searching with the search engine.

A human-powered directory, such as the Open Directory, depends on humans for its listings. You submit a short description to the directory for your entire site, or editors write one for sites they review. A search looks for matches only in the descriptions submitted.

In the web's early days, it used to be that a search engine either presented crawler-based results or human-powered listings. Today, it extremely common for both types of results to be presented. Usually, a hybrid search engine will favour one type of listings over another. For example, MSN Search is more likely to present human-powered listings from LookSmart. However, it does also present crawler-based results (as provided by Inktomi), especially for more obscure queries.

Different search engine approaches

  • Major search engines index the content of a large portion of the web and provide results that can run for pages - and consequently overwhelm the user.
  • Specialized content search engines are selective about what part of the web is crawled and indexed. They provide provide a shorter but more focused list of results.
  • 'Ask' provides a general search of the web but allows you to enter a search request in natural language, such as "What's the weather in Seattle today?"
  • Special tools and some major websites such as Yahoo let you use a number of search engines at the same time and compile results for you in a single list.

Guidelines and references

 

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