Wait! Before You Launch Your New Website…

I think I can safely say that most professionals working in the internet marketing and related fields have been part of launching a new website. Whether it’s for your own company or for a client. This task can be daunting with what if’s and what am I forgetting. I have certainly been there and this is why I put together a website launch checklist to help for this very reason. Creating a new website is a huge undertaking with many moving parts that usually spans many months. By the time you’re nearing the deadline to launching the site, you might be forgetting one of the key steps and that is testing. This step is often ignored and will cause issues down the road if not done properly.

We sometimes forget that we have an entire team to help us with this phase. Most website project teams consist of account managers, writers, web designers, developers and search engine optimizers. These team members are familiar with the site and can help with testing before the launch. By using a resource like the checklist below, the team can work together to review the items and make sure all bases are covered.

Website launch checklist:

1. Content

  • Check the site for spelling errors, grammar mistakes and punctuation site-wide.
  • Audit images to ensure they have the proper alt tags in place.
  • Make sure your content flows well and is relevant to your target audience.

2. Forms

  • Fill out the forms on the website to ensure they are working correctly and/or can be improved for a better user experience.

3. Cross-browser Compatibility

  • Check the compatibility of the website with all of the major web browsers to make certain the site is rendering properly.
  • Review that fonts and images are displaying correctly.

4. Links

  • Verify that all links work and go to the correct web pages. This includes navigation links and links within your pages’ content.
  • When reviewing the links, make sure that the links don’t go to pages on an older site. Many times links are broken when the site goes live because the old links are copied and the pages no longer exist on the new site.
  • For sites with fewer than 500 urls, you can use the tool Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool for free. If your website is larger, there is an annual fee to use this tool. It will help you detect broken links and understand where your links are going.

5. SEO

  • Ensure that every web page has a unique and relevant title tag plus a meta description.
  • Install Google Analytics and have Google and Bing Webmaster Tools set up.
  • Create an accurate site map in both HTML and XML format.

6. 301 Redirects

  • The best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page, we recommend creating a 301 redirect plan.

7. Robots.txt/XML Site Map

  • Have a robots.txt file in place to give instructions about your site to web robots.
  • XML site maps are important because they have information about each URL: when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs in the site. Don’t forget to upload your XML sitemap to your Google and Bing Webmaster tools account.

8. Validation

  • W3C Markup Validation Service is a very helpful tool to check markup validity of web documents HTML, XHTML, etc.  Simply input your website URL to see any validation output errors.

9. Launch Date

  • The best time of the week to launch your new website is on a Monday. This will give you and your team time throughout the week to perform any troubleshooting if necessary.

All of this can seem overwhelming but if you divide these items up among your team, it should be  very manageable.  Use your team’s individual strengths to give out specific objectives. For example, use your writers to check for spelling errors and grammar mistakes, etc.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please let us know. We are here to help you launch your website successfully!