The ultimate website launch checklist

Launching a new website is infinitely more complicated than you might think when the project first starts. If you’re not working with a completed website launch checklist, problems will occur down the line that may hinder business goals.

Whether you’re the client, or the web developer, it’s important to cross the t’s and dot the i’s before officially declaring a web project “complete.” To make the task a little more easy and organized, here’s the ultimate website launch checklist:

Domain Considerations

Many web development projects begin on a test server, especially if the website is replacing a live version of a website. Up until the last minute, the domain will remain attached to the live site. As part of your website launch checklist, make sure to connect the domain to your test website (or migrate content to the existing preferred host). If you’re switching where the domain points, note that DNS changes can take up to 72 hours, and plan accordingly.

Content Considerations

There’s been a recent movement for content-first design, but sometimes web development takes center stage and happens first. Of course, content can be a major driver for SEO and conversions, and shouldn’t be left until the last minute. A few things to make sure you’ve taken care of before website launch:

  • Proofread for spelling and grammar (with the help of multiple people, if possible).
  • Ensure formatting is proper/compelling for the web (whitespace, bullets, headings, etc.)
  • Ensure links are correct. Keep in mind that links could change and break when moving from your temporary website to the live website.
  • Remove any Lorem Ipsum dummy text.
  • Replace stock images with legal-to-use images that the client owns.
  • Ensure that the company has proper permissions for images and other content assets used.
  • Get client sign off on all content before launch to remove liability for any content issues that are uncovered after launch.

SEO Considerations

New websites shouldn’t expect to rank on search engines immediately, but there are several SEO considerations that a web developer can help with prior to launch. Creating a solid foundation will ensure SEO success moving forward.

  • Download the Yoast Plugin if you’re using WordPress, which helps with On-Site SEO.
    • SEMRush’s article for On-Site SEO can also help with a basic understanding for how to set up a page. Topics covered include:
      • URL slug
      • Titles
      • Metadata
      • Image SEO
      • Formatting
      • Content
      • Linking
  • Add a Favicon, which can be as simple as shrinking down your logo and uploading as a Favicon.ico file.
  • Test site load issues using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Fix any major issues before launch. WP Super Cache can help with caching, minifying JS/CSS, and more if using WordPress.
  • Enable a CDN to assist with site speed if your host offers/supports CDN usage.

WordPress does the following automatically (so take care of these if you’re not using WordPress):

  • Generate a robots.txt file.
  • Generate a sitemap.
  • Create an RSS feed for blog content.

Test Browser Compatibility/Usability

Ultimately, how a user interacts with your website is indicative of whether or not business objectives will be realized. A website that isn’t functional, or is very difficult to use, will be quickly abandoned. Complete the following website launch checklist to nip these problems in the bud.

  • Test browser compatibility across the most popular browsers and their various versions.
  • Test mobile responsiveness with Google’s Mobile Test. Revise the design as necessary to work on mobile devices.
  • Test usability with actual users, starting with your team, then with people outside of the project. Peek offers limited free tests, UserTesting offers paid plans, and Inspectlet is an option for ongoing user testing after launch that has both paid and free implementations.

Website Functionality

Before launch, make sure that everything on the website works exactly as it’s supposed to.

  • Make sure that all CSS/JS is working properly. Identify outstanding issues to fix, no matter how small.
  • Make sure all forms (contact, email signup, etc.) are working properly by triggering them with test data. If they aren’t working, a company will lose out on leads and other important conversion factors.
  • Click through all links to ensure that they’re working, and that they lead to the right place. A few things to check:
    • Internal links
    • External links
    • Social Media buttons
    • Menu links
  • Create a 404 page to keep visitors engaged if they land on a broken link.
  • Configure Mailchimp or the email marketing platform of the client’s choice, and other relevant 3rd party integrations.

Analytics/Digital Marketing

Go the extra mile to take care of these issues up-front. If not, the client will probably want your help later, and billing for it might not make up for the interruption it causes in your day.

Website Security Considerations

Website security is really only helpful if you take care of it ahead of any issues.

Legal Compliance

Depending on the type of website you’re creating (especially an e-commerce website), there may be a number of compliance considerations to consider. While Developer Drive is not qualified to give legal guidance, here are a few things to look into:

There are so many things to consider when launching a new website, but this website launch checklist will make sure you’ve taken care of the most important things.

Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website, and read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman. More articles by Maddy Osman
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