Launching a website is like going on a trip.

May be not.

But have you ever turned into a nervous wreck because you are going on a trip? Especially a long trip. The reason? A lot of people are scared of forgetting something so important, that it would reduce productivity significantly on said trip.

The funny thing is, they still end up forgetting something anyway.

When you’re launching a website, chances are you’d be nervous too.

Well, maybe not a complete nervous wreck like others, but you worry. And a lot of things could go very wrong with your launch.

What if you forget to test an important data capture form and then lose out on generating a bunch of new leads? Or worse, what if you forget to properly set up site redirects, and those valuable search engine visitors get a Page not Found message?

Instead of worrying about the what ifs, wouldn’t it be much easier to have a comprehensive checklist to run down before every site launch? I bet it would be.

Since websites differ, we decided to write a checklist that you could use for enterprise websites, landing pages, and everything in between. This list can be copied, edited, downloaded and customized to bits based on your needs as well as the software you’re using to launch and your web host.

So here it is….

1. Pick Your Launch Date

Do you have a launch date? Once you have an idea of what needs to get done before the launch, pick a launch date. Give yourself at least two months for research, design, and development.

2. Set up a staging site

Staging sites are exact copies of your website on a private server that are used to prepare and proof content and code changes before they go live.

The staging site is a place to edit and play around with updates in an environment that’s almost identical to the one that will be live. This is so you don’t have to worry about crashing your site or screwing something up when you make a change.

3. Test Site Speed

Site speed is the time it takes to load each webpage. This influences user experience, conversion rate, and even search engine ranking ever since Google made page load time a web search ranking factor back in 2010.

Use a site speed tester like Google PageSpeed Insights to see a broad picture of your website’s load speed. Or Pingdom Website Speed Test which lets you know the precise speed and provides you with some performance insights to indicate problem areas.

Other specific things to look into:

  • You’re using high-quality servers capable of keeping up with heavy website traffic at times.
  • You’ve enabled browser caching.
  • You’re not using an excessive number of images, videos, or other media that could potentially slow down your site.
  • You’re not going overboard on plugins. (These can make your site sluggish).
  • You’ve ensured that above-the-fold content loads quickly. (This should be a priority over below-the-fold because it doesn’t matter all that much if below-the-fold content takes a few seconds longer).

4. Make sure your layout looks great

good-looking-website

You’ll want to cover the basics in terms of web design to ensure your site looks great and is easily navigable. Visitors should have a seamless experience without needing to think too much about how to get where they need to go.

Here are specific things to attend to at this stage:

  • Ensure your homepage includes your business’s logo.
  • The logo is appealing and professional.
  • Visitors should be aware of the product or service you’re selling upon landing on your site.
  • Images are optimally positioned.
  • Images can be viewed on mobile devices.
  • Email capture widgets are at the right places: No matter how outdated it may seem to you, email marketing remains one of the cheapest, quickest and best (ROI-wise) ways to reach your customers. Make sure your website helps you build your email list from Day 1 by placing email capture applets at strategic positions across your pages.
Also Read  16 ultimate tricks for building a successful eCommerce brand

wordpress website

5. Take time to review your page content

First, take some time to review all the content on your website with eagle eyes.

If you are not a good copywriter like most people, get someone to do it for you. But don’t forget about your premium content too. From data-driven content and downloadable documents to rich media such as videos and images, you want to make sure everything is in place, working properly, and looking beautiful.

Check the following items once — and then check them again. You really don’t want to miss a single typo or grammatical error.

  • You’ve used a light background with dark fonts to make text easily readable.
  • Web copywriting has been proofread. Spelling and grammar are correct.
  • Paragraphs, headers, lists, and other formatting are correct.
  • Copyright date (perhaps in the footer) includes the current year.
  • Company contact details are accurate throughout the website.
  • Company’s contact information is in a visible area.
  • Customer care section/number is easy to find
  • If all else fails, there’s always customer care. Do not leave your users hanging with no recourse by hiding your helpdesk numbers under multiple layers of pages. Display your customer support number prominently, and man your phone lines with well-trained and courteous customer care execs.
  • There are calls to action in relevant locations.
  • Pricing information can be easily found (where applicable).
  • Generic content, such as lorem ipsum, has been properly removed and replaced. Keep an eye out for placeholder text that you may have forgotten to replace with content.
  • You’ve broken up content into digestible chunks by incorporating H1s, H2s, H3s, and bullet points.
  • You haven’t used massive blocks of text that are ugly and difficult to read.
  • Images are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices
  • Check that all the images on your site are compressed properly for the web, as this will help with page load time. Tools like TinyPNG will help you reduce file size. Check that all your images are consistent in quality and size, too.
  • Be sure all your images have alt text, as that’s how search engines will be able to identify and index your images.
  • Videos are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.
  • Audio files are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.
  • All premium content, such as case studies, ebooks, and whitepapers, have been proofread. Spelling and grammar are correct.
  • Rights to images, fonts, and other content have been properly licensed and/or cited.

If you need help with writing a great content that will convert your website visitors into paying customers, you can get in touch with us via wedogrowth.co

6. Make sure your site design is responsive on all devices

Take the necessary steps to ensure that the site design is pixel perfect. If you have a responsive website (and you definitely should), you need to check the design across all devices. Your site should be looking good not just on an office desktop, but also on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

  • Website pages are compatible across browsers (IE 7 8, 9 and 10, Firefox, Chrome, Safari).
  • Website pages are compatible across devices (Android, iPhone, tablets, desktops).
  • Ensure Your Website is Mobile Responsive
  • Google’s algorithm now rewards mobile-friendly websites and penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Not to mention, companies who have responsive websites generate more leads and maintain a competitive advantage over companies that don’t.
  • CSS/HTML is properly validated.
  • Scripts are optimized across web pages.
  • Images are optimized across web pages.
  • CSS is optimized across web pages.
  • Favicon is in place and rendering properly.
  • Paragraph styles are working properly (headers, lists, block quotes).
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7. Ensure all the features on your website are working

Take some time to test and validate all of the different features on your website. Lead generation forms, social sharing, CRM integration, and any other technology should work flawlessly across your website.

  • Forms are submitting data properly: Make sure all the forms on your site flow properly. When someone fills out your form, do they get an auto-response email? Does submitting a form lead the submitter to a thank-you page? Does your website software store each form submission in a database? Does your analytics software record the submission as a conversion?
  • Forms are a great feature for lead generation, but they’re only useful if they work and actually notify you of a new submission. Make sure that they are capturing all of the information you need to contact an individual without making them too long or invasive. Make sure your error message is clean and informative.
  • Thank-you message or page displays after form is submitted.
  • Form data is being emailed to a recipient and/or stored in a company database.
  • Auto-responders are working properly (if applicable).
  • Internal links across web pages are working properly.
  • It’s critical that every link on your website leads where it’s supposed to. This is especially important if you restructure your site, so make sure all your website redirects. You can try out ScreamingFrog’s SEO Spider tool.
  • External links across web pages are working properly, and open in a new tab.
  • Social media share icons are working properly.
  • Feeds are working properly (RSS, news, social media).
  • Company logo is linked to the homepage.
  • 404 Redirect pages are in place (page-not-found.aspx).
  • Integrations with third-party tools, such as your CRM, e-commerce software, and/or marketing platform, are running smoothly.

8. Ensure your site has a solid foundation for SEO success

From site architecture and content hierarchy to metadata and XML sitemaps, do not leave any stone unturned.

Make sure that..

  • Pages have unique page titles (fewer than 70 characters, includes keywords).
  • keyword research has helped you identify which keyword phrases to target in your content.
  • Longtail keywords have been chosen (so that you have a legitimate chance of outranking the competition).
  • Keywords have been injected throughout your content but without keyword stuffing.
  • You’ve incorporated targeted keywords into your URL.
  • You’ve included targeted keywords in your meta description, titles, and headers.
  • You’ve added relevant tags to your content.
  • Tags have been added to videos.
  • URLs are brief and user-friendly. (They’re not long and ugly.)
  • Meta descriptions are a maximum of 160 characters. This ensures they’re not truncated in search results.
  • Pages have unique meta descriptions (fewer than 156 characters, includes keywords).
  • Metadata is properly in place for any content in an RSS feed.
  • Spelling and grammar are correct in all metadata.
  • Alt tags have been added to every image.
  • A dynamic XML sitemap has been created. Your XML sitemap is a file of code that lives on your server and lists all of the relevant URLs that are in the structure of your website. It’s critical for optimizing your website for search because it helps search engine web crawlers determine the structure of the site so they can crawl it more intelligently.
  • The XML sitemap has been submitted to search engines.
  • Page URLs consistently reflect site information architecture.
  • 301 redirects are in place for all old URLs (redirecting old to new pages).
  • rel=”nofollow” tags are in place on applicable links and pages.
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9. Set up your website analytics

Is your website is set up to capture web data and analytics? This valuable information will allow you to continually improve your website going forward, so you don’t want to forget this stuff. You need to ensure:

  • Your website analytics codes have been inserted on website.
  • Relevant IP addresses have been excluded from analytics tracking.
  • Funnels and goals have been properly created in your analytics software (if applicable).
  • Google Webmaster and Google Analytics accounts have been properly synced.
  • Google AdWords and Google Analytics accounts have been properly synced (if applicable).

10. Have proper security and data backups in place

You can prevent loss of data and protect against malware and other damages by properly setting up site security and regular backups.

  • 24/7 monitoring scripts are installed.
  • A copy of the final website has been made for backup purposes.
  • Ongoing copies of the website are being created and stored on a regular basis.
  • Passwords and other website credentials are stored in a secure database.

11. Ensure your website complies with applicable laws and regulations

Finally, make sure your website complies with any applicable laws and regulations. Internet law can be sticky, and each industry has its own set of rules to follow. So it’s best to consult with your legal counsel to make sure you aren’t missing anything – this ebook is not legal guidance. Here are a few you might need to know about:

  • Web pages offer accessibility for users with disabilities (WAI-ARIA).
  • Web pages announce if the website uses cookies (required in some countries).
  • Website is compliant with usage rights for purchased or borrowed code, images, and fonts.
  • Terms and privacy policies are visible to website visitors.
  • Website is PCI compliant (if you’re storing and processing credit cards).
  • SSL certificate is installed properly.
  • If you accept payments on your website (not through a 3rd party processor, e.g. Paystack) and have purchased an SSL certificate, then you want to make sure it’s installed properly. An SSL certificate will ensure your website is encrypted so hackers can’t intercept any of your data. Not only will this put your website visitors at ease, but it’ll also boost your website’s SEO since SSL is now part of Google’s search ranking algorithm.

Conclusion

Launching a new website can be a tedious task, but you can alleviate some of the stress by using this comprehensive website launch checklist. By having a systematized sequence of steps to follow, you’ll know for sure you’re not missing any important details.

And when launch day finally arrives, you’ll be less anxious.

 If you’d rather have experts to help with your website, we can match you with top talents from our pre-vetted network of WordPress experts. They will start working on your website immediately. Get the offer now.

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