Before You Go Live: A Website Launch Checklist
There are many factors that contribute to the success of a website. Some are fairly obvious and fundamental, such as strong coding, attractive design, user friendliness, and relevant content. Others are more subtle and easy to miss. Before you actually launch a new website, you should make sure all the bugs and glitches have been removed. Even minor issues will influence visitors’ opinion of your (or your clients) business. Here’s a checklist of things to watch out for before your site goes public.
This refers to everything that makes your website workable and useful for visitors, including:
- Navigation. Simple website navigation helps visitors find what they’re looking for quickly like making sure menus are easy to find and use.
- Page loading speed. If pages take too long to load, you’ll lose visitors. Google also uses the page loading speed as a ranking factor.
- Test the site on all operating systems and devices. People should be able to read, navigate, and (when relevant) order from your website using any popular device, browser and operating system. It’s especially important that your site is mobile-friendly, as more and more people access the web on mobile devices today.
Website Security Check
One of your first concerns before you launch a website should be to make it secure.
- Install a firewall. A web application firewall makes it harder for hackers to tamper with your site. There are now many cloud-based services that provide firewalls.
- Use SSL security protocol. An SSL certificate builds trust and keeps information private. When visitors see https at the beginning of your URL, they’ll be reassured that your site is secure.
- Back up your entire site.
- Use security plugins. If you use WordPress, use a plugin such as WordFence to keep your site safer.
- Make sure everyone on your team is security conscious. Use unique and difficult passwords for all applications. Don’t share passwords any more than is absolutely necessary.
You want to make a website as easy for the search engines to index as possible. SEO is an ongoing concern. There are, however, some basic elements you should have in place from the beginning.
- Page titles and metadata. Use SEO-friendly page and post titles that include keywords relevant to your industry. Meta descriptions provide searchers with useful information about what your page is about.
- Permalinks. Make sure your permalinks (page and post URLs) are SEO-friendly. In WordPress, you can set this up by choosing Select Post under Settings and Permalinks. This ensures that your post titles are used as permalinks.
- Optimize your images. You can optimize images by including Alt tags with keywords. Additionally, keep file sizes for images down as this helps pages load faster.
Make Your Content Shareable
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to remember your website and share your content.
- Install social sharing buttons so visitors can share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites.
- Add a Favicon. A favicon is an icon that appears before your URL that lets people recognize your site when they bookmark it. Don’t settle for the default favicon but make it brandable by using your logo or another unique image.
- Use shareable content. Research shows that people are far more likely to share visual content such as photos, videos, and infographics than plain text. HubSpot recently found that people share infographics three times more than other types of content.
Legal Information and Disclaimers
Sharing certain information protects you, reassures visitors, and may be legally required, depending on your location.
- About Us. This lists the details of a business such as what type of products or services you sell, how long you’ve been in business, and your contact information.
- Refund policy. If you sell anything online, you should post a clear policy for refunds and exchanges.
Proofread Everything Before, During, and After Your Website Launch
It’s easy for typos, grammatical mistakes, and other errors to slip through while prepping for your website launch. Spelling and grammar checkers such as Grammarly can be useful to catch certain mistakes. However, you should also do some manual proofreading. Ideally, have at least two people proofread everything before you publish it. Aside from checking your text, test all links and fix any that are broken.
These are some of the most important factors that should be on your launch checklist before your website goes live. You can always fix problems later, but it’s good to have your best foot forward. Need help with your website? Contact MAB today for any of your web development needs.