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What To Check For When Launching Your Website (Checklist)

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Great, you just fell the giant. 

I’m talking about your website. 

Site content updated. Check.

Web copy aligns with the new brand. Check. 

Site tested for user experience. Conversion paths are properly implemented. Technical SEO implementation audited. 

Checkiddy, Check, Check. 

But before you hit publish, don’t you want to be sure your website will do the job you’re hiring it to do?

That when you hit publish—and a reasonable period of time has passed—you will start seeing some traffic flowing your way? Traffic comprised of qualified leads who will (a.) be delighted by what you’re offering, (b.) will buy from you, (c.) will be happy with what they buy from you, and (d.) who will tell their friends about you—with a little nurturing, of course, 😉

When you launch your site, you want to know that your online salesman (aka your website) will provide value to good-fit customers and entice them towards your brand.

We’ve put together this checklist for you so you can be sure that when you send out your website to the world. It’s gonna do just that…and then some.

You’ve rebuilt your site. Now what?

You’ve picked a CMS and built your site, now here’s a list of things to make sure you check before, during, and after going live. Feel free to adapt it to your particular content management system (CMS) software.

We’ve organized items by pre-launch and post-launch, taking into account page content, design, function, SEO, branding, analytics, and security. Keep reading to ensure you don’t forget anything before your next launch.

Site Pre-Launch Checklist

Make sure you go over all the content on your website with a fine-tooth comb before launching. Of course, that means page content, but don’t neglect premium content either. You want to make sure everything, from data-driven content to downloadable documents, works properly and looks amazing.

You will need a staging site to prepare your new website before it goes live. A staging site is a private server where a copy of your site is hosted so it can be prepared and tested before it goes live. You can edit and test updates on the staging site in an environment that is almost similar to the one that’ll go live. This way, you won’t need to worry about your site crashing or things getting screwed up when you make any changes.

You can then sync content—in the staging site and live website—via your content management system (CMS). 

But first…

1. Check the text for accuracy, errors and brand consistency

Proofread your site content for spelling and grammar.

Check that contact details are accurate and uniform throughout the site.

Remove all generic content—replace all ”lorem ipsum” phrases with proper text.

Proofread your premium content—ebooks, case studies, whitepapers—and check that their spelling and grammar are also correct.

Copyright dates (for example, in the website footer) should include the current year.

Scan your entire site for spelling and grammar errors using tools like Respelt. You can then use Grammarly to proofread page by page.

You also want to copy-edit the text to ensure consistent brand voice and style—that’s including all company tag lines and mission statements.

Check that headers, paragraphs, lists, and other formatting are correct and that you’ve implemented brand colours correctly, including link and button colours.

2. Replace all placeholder images with properly licensed or cited final images

A website designer may use a placeholder image on occasion if they were unable to find the correct asset when creating the page. It’s up to you to ensure no copyright licensing issues arise. You could end up paying a large infringement settlement if you don’t.

Avoid copyright infringement issues by properly citing images or, better yet, using your own. And if you really, truly, absolutely can’t use your own images, get stock photos from sites like Unsplash and Pexels.

3. Ensure that the site is user-friendly with properly implemented conversion paths

Are your website pages compatible across different browsers and devices?

Are all images, videos, and audio files in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices?

Is all premium content—case studies, ebooks, whitepapers, etc.—stored in its proper library/database and working properly?

Are internal links across web pages working as they should?

Are all social media share icons associated with the correct accounts?

Is the company logo linked to the homepage?

You also need to ensure all necessary forms are present, landing pages and thank you pages are implemented, and all buttons or calls-to-action (CTAs) are present in their proper locations. 

Everything should be linked together appropriately.

4. Store your passwords securely and create a site backup strategy

The launch of the website likely involved many people, so ensure that passwords are reset when the time comes and proper password etiquette is followed.

Proper site security and regular backups can also prevent data loss and protect against malware and other damages. Check that:

  • You create a regular site backup schedule. 
  • You identify a backup location. 
  • You set an implementation plan to be put in motion after the launch.

5. Audit your content and technical SEO implementation for errors

Does each page on your site have a unique page title and meta description?

Each page must serve a specific purpose. Optimize all pages you wish to rank organically around one keyword or a set of related keywords.

You can use this checklist as a guide when working with your team to make sure all the relevant details are addressed before your redesigned site goes live: 

(Our site is built on WordPress so some of these elements are specific to WordPress).

  • Test your site for broken links using a tool like the Screaming Frog spider
  • Test your website’s loading speed with a tool like Pingdom.
  • Check your title and description attributes with Screaming Frog. Look out for titles that are more than 55 characters long, duplicate, or too generic—the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is an absolute must for this going forward.
  • Check your image alt descriptions with Screaming Frog to ensure each is optimized.
  • Ensure your tracking codes from Google Analytics, AdWords, Facebook Ads, or retargeting are properly installed and functional.
  • Check out Schema for information on your contact data—name, address, etc.—ensure it’s properly formatted with Schema code
  • Enter a page URL that does not exist on your website to receive a 404 error page. Ideally, you will want to create a custom error page that has a better message than the default server error message.
  • If you’ve created new URL structures, you might want to test some of the key pages from your old site URL structure to make sure they feature the expected 301 redirects.
  • Check your XML sitemap. If you’re using a tool like the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress you can get your sitemap URL straight from the plugin. Ensure it renders correctly.
  • Have you retained some plugins and ditched others? Do a Plugin audit to ensure all your desired plugins are active and up to date. Then check that the plugins you’re no longer actively using and delete them from your site.
  • Don’t forget to point your domain name server (DNS) to your new hosting nameservers

Site Post-Launch Checklist

You’ve done it!

The launch button has been pushed. 

The domain points to your updated site.

You’re about ready to shout about it from the rooftops.

But hold your horses just a sec because you still have things to check for now that your site is officially live.

To start with:

1. Test your new site for user experience—one more time

As a precaution, make sure the experience is consistent with what you reviewed before it went live. You’ll want to check that:

  • Your design renders as expected across browsers and devices. 
  • CSS/HTML is properly validated. 
  • CSS styling renders properly.
  • Favicon is in place and renders properly. 
  • Internal and external links across web pages work properly. (External links open in a new tab).
  • Social media share icons work properly.
  • Feeds—RSS, news, social media—work correctly.
  • The company logo links to your homepage.
  • 404 Redirect pages (page-not-found.aspx) are in place.

2. Test the functionality of your conversion path

You may want to spend a little time testing and validating all of the different features on your website. CRM integrations, lead generation forms, and any other technology should be working flawlessly across your site.

Are your forms submitting data properly?

Does a “thank you” message or landing page display after forms are submitted?

Is form data being emailed to a recipient and/or stored in a company database?

Are your auto-responders working properly (if applicable)?

On the same note, you’ll want to ensure all third-party items connect to the right accounts and run smoothly—we’re talking newsletter signups, Flickr galleries, social media, etc.

3. Create a backup of your final website and ensure backups run properly

Now that all the elements of your new site are in place and finalized, you need a pristine backup copy in case your data is destroyed or corrupted.

You’ll also want to countercheck the implementation of your backup strategy. There should be ongoing copies of the website being created and stored on a regular basis.

4. Ensure your site is secure—check the SSL certificate

An SSL certificate is a must-have for any website that wants to earn the trust of its visitors—it encrypts your website so that hackers can’t hijack any of your data or that of your users. 

Having an SSL certificate installed on your site not only puts your site visitors at ease but also boosts your website’s SEO since SSL is now part of Google’s search ranking algorithm. It’s two for two!

The only tricky bit with SSL certificates is that getting one takes about 2 weeks to set up—aim to have yours before site launch.

Other than an SSL, ensure you’ve installed 24/7 monitoring scripts and made a plan for plugin updates (if applicable). You also want to keep your team aware of your company’s password etiquette policies.

5. Ensure compliance with all applicable laws

Ensure that any laws and regulations applicable to the website are followed. Laws governing the internet can be complicated, and industries each have their own set of rules. It’s best to check with your legal counsel to make sure you’re not missing anything—this post does not constitute legal counsel. 

Here are a few laws and regulations your web pages should follow:

  • Accessibility for users with disabilities (WAI-ARIA)
  • Disclose use of cookies (required in some countries)
  • Comply with usage rights for purchased or borrowed images, fonts, and code
  • Make terms and privacy policies visible to website visitors
  • PCI compliance—if you store and process credit cards.

6. Crawl the website to check for any errors that happened during the launch

You’re checking for any unintentional inconsistencies between the current crawl and previous crawl. You should also ensure all pages have the correct settings for search engine indexing.

Next, check your formatting consistency. Font codes often get dropped into pages by accident, so scour the site for any strange formatting errors. All your formatting should be consistent with no weird blips in the copy.

7. Check for errors in the technical SEO components and optimize metadata

  • Do your new page URLs, titles, and meta descriptions match your original technical SEO strategy?
  • Is the load time for each page on your site optimized?
  • Does your website have a dynamic XML sitemap and was the sitemap submitted to search engines?
  • Do your page URLs reflect the architecture of site information consistently?
  • Are there 301 redirects in place for all your old URLs?
  • Are there rel=”nofollow” tags in place on applicable pages and links?
  • Are all images on your site properly compressed to optimize load speed? 
  • Do your images have alt tags?
  • Have you optimized the metadata for your RSS feed and social media sharing content?
  • Is the spelling and grammar correct in all the metadata?

8. Set up data capture and analytics

Check that you’ve set up your website to capture data and analytics to provide you with valuable insights for continually improving your website. At the very least, you should:

  • Insert tracking scripts and website analytics codes
  • Exclude irrelevant IP addresses from analytics tracking—like IP addresses of your office
  • Create goal-led funnels in your analytics software where applicable
  • Sync your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster accounts properly
  • Sync your Google Ads accounts properly where applicable

Analytics is one of the most critical areas of your website so it requires special attention. Miss a step and your data will be lost. Sure, you can fix it later, but what help will it be if you won’t access historical reports?  Try your best to get it right from the start so you can just set it and forget it.

Spread the word about your new website

Your efforts to this point haven’t all been for show. You’re doing it to benefit your visitors, prospects and customers. Now it’s time to let the world know you’re ready for launch. Here’s how you do it:

1. Tease your upcoming launch to get people excited about the new experience

What do the launches of a new movie, product and website have in common? Marketing—all three require marketing before the actual release. Think back to the last time you went to watch a movie at the theater. I’m willing to bet you watched the movie trailer before you bought movie tickets.

Teasers for a website launch work (pretty much) the same  way as trailers—they help build anticipation for your updated site and make potential visitors look forward to the new experience. When it’s time to finally cut the ribbon—ushering in visitors to your site—you’ll already have generated interest and buzz around the launch.

2. Plan a social media strategy for the announcement

Which social media channels do you want to promote the news about your upcoming website launch on? How will you make the announcement? How long will the promotion run?

As you craft your strategy, ensure your messaging reflects the new features and how they will benefit your audience.

3. Come up with innovative ideas to increase engagement for the new site

A new website launch might not sound like a big deal to users who aren’t familiar with your brand. Your job is to make it a big deal to them. 

You could promote engagement from first-time visitors by providing an exclusive offer or run a contest that encourages engagement with your site’s new features. You could even publish an article about your process and the thinking behind the redesign—talk about the challenges you encountered and thank the contributing team members.

Just make it interesting and fun, whatever you go with.

4. Email your existing customer database

Your existing customers and leads may appreciate being informed about your new design, especially if it will cause any confusion when they visit your website next time. You could relay the message as a courtesy but also sneak in a message that underscores the additional value your updated website brings. And don’t forget to ask your customers to help you spread word of the new site. 

Pro Tip: Include a “check out our new website” link to your email signature for the course of the launch promotion. Any email you send to your subscribers will always prompt them to visit your new site.

5. Keep marketing the launch for a month 

Your audience won’t drop whatever’s currently keeping them busy to visit your new site in droves just because you published that one post about your launch on social media. 

You need to make a big deal of your launch. Post about it multiple times within the month following the launch—ideally, one to three posts per network every week. This way, you stay top of mind among your audience as they’re prompted to check your site out several times.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed your website launch

Well done. Give yourself (and your team) a nice pat on the back and pop some Rose.

All the steps we just walked through might seem like a ton of work, but they will save you a ton of worry, headache and wasted energy in the end.

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