Weeks and months of planning, organizing, coordinating, designing and developing culminate in the moment when you’re ready to launch your new website. You’ve worked tirelessly and now is a time for excitement and celebration, a time to nurse a sense of accomplishment. Prior to unveiling your work to the world, it would only be natural to be stricken by a last minute concern of “what if I’ve missed something?” Unfortunately, this is an all too real possibility and one that plagues fledgling digital storefronts routinely.
It is standard operating procedure in many businesses to use a checklist, whether it’s a trans-Atlantic flight or a 50-mile jaunt in a puddle jumper, whether it’s removing a mole or performing open-heart surgery, checklists routinely enable the checking and rechecking of the smallest detail to ensure that all systems are adequately prepared. As someone launching a new business enterprise on the web, do you owe yourself any less?
When preparing for a website launch, you should consider three sections on your checklist, pre-launch, launch, and post-launch. Here are some elements you may wish to include in your checklist.
The first step in your pre-launch checklist is to review carefully all website content. This includes the following:
- Removal of all Ipsum text (dummy text used for testing a layout).
- Check all copy for correct grammar, typos and spelling errors.
- Ensure all company contact details located on the site are correct.
- Confirm that the correct images, video and audio files have been used, and that they are properly formatted for the layout.
- Proofread any PDF files and ensure the links are working properly.
- Test every link to ensure it is working properly.
- Make sure that a 404 error page has been added, and if desired, properly customized.
- When switching over from an old website, confirm that all old URLs are properly redirecting to your new site.
- If you have any licensed materials, such as fonts, media, plugins, etc., confirm all required licenses are in order and on file.
The second step of your pre-launch checklist should include a thorough review of your website design and should include the following:
- Test the appearance and functionality of the site in all popular browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge and Safari.
- Confirm that the design is responsive on mobile browsers for Apple- and Android-based smartphones.
- Confirm that the design is responsive on tablets, such as the iPad, Kindle, and Android-based tablets.
- Confirm that images are optimized on the page layout.
- Check that your website’s Favicon is being displayed in the address bar. A Favicon is a small graphical representation that appears at the left side of the browser’s address bar, such as the encircled W used by WordPress. This is a key element in branding.
- Ensure that your company logo is linked to the homepage, so that when users click on your logo, they will be returned to your homepage.
The third step in your pre-launch checklist is testing your website’s functionality. This should include:
- Confirming that forms are emailing to the correct address.
- Confirming that forms are correctly submitting data.Confirming that auto responders are working and sending correct responses.
- Confirming that auto responders are working and sending correct responses.
- Confirming that externals links open in a new browser tab.
- Testing social media icons to ensure they are working and direct properly.
- Testing the length of time required for your website to load. Ideally, your site should load in three seconds or less.
- Confirming that any posts that are to be shared on social media are sharing.
The fourth step in your pre-launch checklist should include attention to SEO functions. Include the following:
- Test that a unique title and meta description has been used for all pages and posts. Title should be 70 characters or less. Meta descriptions should be 156 characters or less.
- Confirm that no more than 10 keywords are used in any page or post.
- Ensure Google Analytics is running. The easiest way to do so is to install Google Analytics WD. This free plugin allows you to easily manage and monitor Google Analytics in WordPress dashboard. Google Analytics WD includes a variety of reports designed to help you maximize efficiency, enable cross-domain tracking, set user permissions and set goals. It will be invaluable in helping you optimize your site and track your progress.
Now let’s move on to the launch checklist and check out the important considerations for new sites. When launching a new site, you’ll want to check the following:
- Set up of your new domain in WordPress.
- Set up of your new database and user in WordPress.
- Confirm you’ve recorded the new domain and database into tracking software.
- Do a complete backup of your site and all data.
- View the website again to check for any display issues. Do it on all commonly used browsers, including mobile.
- Test all links and redirects again.
Once you’ve gone live, but ideally prior to the official launch of your site, it’s time to go through the post-launch steps, including:
- Test all plugins and address any relicensing concerns, if you have moved from one domain to another.
- If any sliders are used by the plugins, test them for URL problems.
- Activate site caching for any plugins.
- Test any advanced access manager settings to ensure they are working and you are familiar with how to use them.
- Test Google Analytics WD and check settings.
- Build a sitemap.
- Ping search engines.
- Connect any SEO management tools.
- Update your administrator password.
- Complete a backup of the site and all data.
- Send a backup of the site and all data to a remote destination, and then confirm this process worked.
- If you are migrating from an old site, delete the old site, subdomain, database and user profile.
WordPress is a great way to create a scalable website on the open source platform of an effective e-commerce solution that is 100% free. WordPress offers tons of community support, free themes, and great plugins like Google Analytics WD designed to optimize your site and help you get the most out of your experience. Prior to launch, at launch time, and post-launch, a careful check of key elements of your site will ensure everything is functioning properly, giving you the smoothest possible rollout on your path to success.