Introducing a new website can be nerve-wracking…
Website design and development projects are full of ups and downs, happy moments, and stressful instances. Launching the final product is arguably one of the most pivotal points of these projects, and each launch poses a variety of scenarios that could go wrong. So, what steps can you take to ensure a successful website launch?
Here at SiteCrafting, we have an internal checklist that we call “The Perfect Launch.” For us, success happens not when the sales department brings in a new client, but when that website is complete and launches smoothly. Here are some things from our own quality assurance test plans and items we work with our clients to check for before the go-live moment.
Have you ever gone to a website and seen a strangely placed photo or text that looked like gibberish? These are most likely remnants of the website from its development stage. Before you launch, you’ll need to ensure all placeholder content is removed and updated, forms are tested, and visual components are optimized.
- Web copy has been proofread and edited
- Content is properly formatted with good use of headings, sub-headings, lists, etc.
- Any placeholder content has been removed or replaced with real content
- Company contact info is easily accessible throughout the website
- Images are properly displaying and aren’t broken
- Videos are properly embedded and play across devices
Pretend you’re a customer visiting your site. Follow the links that should lead you to your goal. Did you get there? Can you sign up for your newsletter? Make sure the customer journey doesn’t encounter any roadblocks.
- Forms submissions and notifications have been tested
- Navigation links are working properly and linking to the correct page
- Links in page copy are directing to the proper page or external website
- Social sharing features are working properly
- Feeds are working (RSS, Social Media)
- Brand logo links to the homepage
- Integrations with 3rd party tools work properly (CRM, Email Platform, E-commerce, etc)
Everyone wants to know if all of the effort put into a website project was worth it, and one of the best ways to tell is by looking at your analytics reports. These reports can provide valuable insight into what is or is not working on your website to help you identify new opportunities. Make sure to check these items to get the most out of your analytics.
- Analytics tracking codes are installed and tested (we recommend implementing through Google Tag Manager)
- Google Webmaster Tools is enabled
- Google Webmaster Tools, Analytics & AdWords have been properly linked if applicable
- Ecommerce tracking is enabled, if applicable
- Event tracking, goals and funnel paths are set up, if applicable
Analytics setup and analysis can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. If you need help with this process or would like an explanation of what your data is telling you, feel free to contact us. We would love to help.
A website has to look beautiful on more than your personal computer. With multiple browsers and operating systems in use, your site must display well on as many devices as possible.
- Website is compatible across platforms if responsive (Phones, Tablets, Desktops)
- Website is compatible across browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge)
- Favicon is in place
- Page not Found (404) and search page templates are in place
In today’s competitive search environment, it’s more important than ever to ensure search engine optimization (SEO) basics are implemented on your website prior to launch.
- 301 redirects have been created for any URLs that changed from the old site to the new site
- All images have alt text
- Unique Title Tags are written for each page (fewer than 70 characters and include keywords)
- Unique Meta Descriptions are written for each page (fewer than 156 characters and include keywords)
- Page content integrates important keywords without “stuffing” (fewer than 10 keywords on a page)
- Website has an XML sitemap that has been submitted to Google Search Console
- Page URLs reflect site structure and support keyword strategy
These items should be just the start of your website’s SEO journey. In order to continuously outperform your competitors, you’ll need to closely monitor your rankings and performance. Check out our blog post SEO Made Easy for more tips, or contact us with any questions.
Once a site is ready for launch, keeping it up and running is the next big step. Having reliable website hosting is vital to the health of your site, and having a registrar you trust ensures your website never goes down because someone forgot to renew your domain name(s). All these elements should be in place before you go live.
- Hosting contract is in place
- Contact info for domain registrar OR login info for domain management
- SSL certificate configured so that site traffic travels over HTTPS
- Any supporting of alternate domains redirect site traffic to the primary domain
Your content is ready, SEO is in place, analytics are set up and you’re ready for launch. At this point, you need open lines of communication between your internal team and your web development team. Launching a website isn’t instantaneous; DNS can take 24-48 hours to propagate. You want a team in place to monitor how the launch rolls out.
- Launch date set internally
- Web developer notified of the launch date
- Launch date confirmed by web developer
- Website team available to monitor launch
You have a beautiful new website that you are excited about! Now it is important to spread the word to your audience so they can check it out.
- Post promotional updates on social media
- Send an update to your email list
- Implement Google Ads (optional)
- Implement social media ads (optional)
This list may seem intimidating, but with each item that you check off, you’ll be one step closer to launching successfully and celebrating the success of your new website. If you get stuck along the way, give us a call and we’ll guide you through the process.
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This post was originally published in 2015; it has been updated for 2020.