So after much help and research I've FINALLY been able to get the 301 redirects working via .htaccess file, but I noticed that unless I actually hit 'refresh' on my browser it will not redirect the page due to simply reading the cached site.
I've tried closing all browsers, inserting the .htaccess file, and THEN opening a new browser, but it still opens the cached site. I would hazard a guess that most customers will not bother refreshing a page, and if they do not, this will take quite a while to discover that there is indeed a new page!
Any ideas? Thanks!
EDIT: I just had the idea of putting a link on our current homepage that says, "Click here to see our new website!" and the link will refresh the page, which will in turn kick the 301 redirect into action. Can anyone think of any negative side-effects of this?
I think you're running into a bit of a catch-22 here, as you can't add anything to the page to force the user's browser to refresh if they don't have the version of the page containing the "refresh" instruction.
Browsers do periodically check for newer versions of cached content. So by editing the home page at least it should have updated the timestamp, and your users should get the updated version of the site eventually.
I don't know that the link is necessary though, even just updating the page content slightly should eventually trigger a refresh. Again, this is because users that have a cached version of the site wouldn't see the link anyway.
Did you try clearing your cache in your browser?