Launching a website is exciting, but it can also be stressful. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, so the best thing you can do is to go down a checklist and make sure that you’ve double-checked everything pre-launch and post-launch. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a checklist of things to do before and after you launch your website!
Things to Check Before You Launch Your Website
Before your website makes its debut, there are several things to double-check. Here are the things we recommend checking before you launch.
- Multi-browser compatibility
Not all browsers will display your website the same, so it's essential to test your site for compatibility on different ones. If you are launching a redesign of your old site, take a look at your analytics tools to see which browsers your visitors use most frequently.
You'll want to ensure your new website performs well on those browsers specifically. Pay attention to the page layout, font, and other design elements when testing on each browser.
- 404 page
One way or another, a user will find a way to land on a page that doesn't exist on your website. You need to ensure that you have a way to lead them back on track. Create a custom, user-friendly 404 page so that in the event of a broken link, your users don't leave your site without engaging with your content.
You'll want to make sure all of your old webpages redirect to the correct new pages to avoid having your users getting sent to your 404 page.
- Spellcheck and grammar
Typos can take away your brand’s credibility in an instant. Have more than one person check your website copy or use a tool like Grammarly to help scan it for any errors.
- Page loading speed
Test how quickly your web pages load with a tool like Google's Page Speed Insights. Not only does it give you a speed rating, but it provides suggestions for improvement.
- Share icons
Don't forget to include share icons on your pages to make it easy for your website visitors to share your content on social media, email, and other mediums. This can help increase your website's reach and hit your new goals.
- Subscriber forms
Make sure users can easily subscribe to your content. If your website visitor wants to receive updates via email make sure you have forms that submit data correctly.
- Analytics tools
How else will you be able to tell if your new website is hitting the goals you want to achieve with it? Be sure to have at least one analytics tool set up prior to launching. We recommend Google Analytics, Hotjar, and Google Search Console. You can read more about those three tools here.
Also, don't forget to exclude IP addresses from your office or anywhere else where your internal team would regularly access your website. You don't want to get misleading results!
- Keyword usage
Make sure that you are meaningfully using your keywords throughout your site. This isn't just for ranking purposes, it's also to ensure that it's clear to your target audience what your brand does. When your users see keywords that are aligned with their interests, they are more likely to continue coming back to your website and engaging with your content.
- Meta information
Be sure to include a meta description on each of your webpages so that users who are finding your website through search engines know what the page is about. A good meta description is within 160 characters and persuades the user to click through. Use your key phrases in your meta description!
Design & Layout
- Perform an HTML validation test via a CSS validator
It's crucial that your website appears as designed on browsers, so before you launch, you need to validate your site's HTML pages. We recommend using w3c's markup validation service.
- Intuitive site structure
You want your user to be able to find what they're looking for without getting confused with your website navigation. Make sure that your content is organized and has a clear hierarchy.
- Multi-device compatibility
It's essential that you account for your site will look not only on desktops, but on tablets and different types of mobile devices. Use Google's Test My Site tool to make sure your site is compatible on multiple devices.
- Image optimization
Images make your website visually appealing, but be sure to optimize them so they don't drag you down. First, make sure that they are the correct size and quality. You don't want a blurry image or an image that is so big that it causes your page to load slowly.
Next, you'll want to make sure that your photos have alt-text so that your website is accessible. Lastly, make sure that you are only using images that you have purchased licenses for to avoid any legal trouble post-launch.
After you have checked everything from this list, get sign-off from key management and prepare to launch! Remember that on your launch day, you'll need all hands on deck to help in case you come across any bumps along the road.
Things to Check for After You Launch Your Website
Websites are not a set-it-and-forget-it type of investment. You'll need to check in on your metrics frequently as well as a few other things post-launch.
1 Week After Launch
Some of these checklist items are very technical, so if you don't know how to do this, be sure to ask your web company if these things are complete.
- Check to see how many pages are indexed and ensure that your important pages are.
- Resubmit your .XML sitemap(s) via webmaster tools, like Google and Bing.
- Add a public HTML sitemap, if you haven't already
- Confirm that your Robots.txt files are set up properly
- Ensure that your analytics tools are working properly
Metrics to Track
Document your website metrics 1 month after launch, and after that keep up with it quarterly to see if your new site is helping you achieve your goals.
- Number of website visits, visitors, and unique visitors
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on site
- Number of inbound linking domains
- Top-performing keywords
- Total number of pages indexed
- Total number of pages that receive traffic
- Total number of form submissions
- Total number of leads/sales generated
By following this pre-launch and post-launch checklist, you are making sure that you have everything covered. Again, launching a website isn't an easy task, but hopefully this quick guide will help simplify the process.
If you are looking for a place to keep track of your whole website design process, then download our free planning template!