Finally, your website is about to launch. You can finally relax.
Not so fast. The thing about a website is that it’s made of several tiny parts, which means there are many ways you can mess up. From the smallest things like misspelled words or broken links to more obvious ones like plugin errors and missing site redirects.
We don’t want to kill your enthusiasm; launching a website should be an exciting moment for your business! This is exactly why we want to help you make sure your website launch will be one for the books. So we put together this website launch checklist to save you the trouble of fixing website issues the last minute (after all, you want to really be able to RELAX, right?)
1.Prepare a list of all action items
First thing to do is to list down all important items that need to be checked on your website. This list should include your content (blogs, pages), design aspects (images, layout), site features and functionality (sign up forms, buttons, sliders), and other technical aspects (backend development) among others. In each action item, clearly define what needs to be done. Content – proofread. Images – make sure they’re the right sizes and optimised for web. Links – make sure they go to the right pages. Site speed – make sure your webpages are loading as quickly
2. Have a pre-launch team
Don’t try to do everything solo. A website launch is really a team effort. Once you have laid out your action items and what needs to be done in each, you can assign each task to an individual in your pre-launch team. You can have a writer or a marketing person review all your content. Have a web designer check the images and layout. Assign your technical team over the back-end development to make sure everything is working fine.
You can take advantage of project management tools like Asana and Trello to effectively manage your tasks and track each individual’s progress. If you’re more comfortable with the good ol’ whiteboard and marker, then by all means! Just make sure everyone is on the same page and in the right direction.
3. Set up analytics
Once your website is out there, you’ll want to know how well (or badly) it performs. We recommend setting up Google Analytics early on before launch so you can evaluate your site’s performance and find out what works and what doesn’t. Let us know if you need help setting up Google Analytics and we’ll rush to your aid.
4. Have an effective SEO strategy in place
Isn’t it too early to do SEO stuff yet? Actually, this task should be a separate action item in your list (refer to no. 1). We suggest you have a pre-launch SEO checklist and have a dedicated team member for this task. Make sure you do the following before launching your site.
- Check that each page and blog has the right URL. If you are renovating an old website, make sure to set-up a 301 redirect from your old webpage going to the new ones. This helpful blog post from HostingPill walks us through how to set up a 301 redirect on your website.
- If your site is running on WordPress, install the Yoast SEO plugin. Include the target keywords for each page or post and provide meta descriptions.
- Check that each page or post contains headers and subheaders (H1 and H2 tags).
- Put internal links in pages and posts throughout your site.
- Check that all images include alt tags, which should contain your keywords and simple descriptions of the image.
Your website is a marketing tool, which means you need to have an effective online marketing plan to get your desired results, whether it’s to increase sales or to expand your subscriber base. Your marketing plan doesn’t have to be too complicated; you can start off with two pages and build it up as you go.
Check out our “5-Step Online Marketing Strategy” ebook and implement this simple, easy-to-follow plan to boost your online marketing results.
5. Check that your website is secure
Starting October 17, Google Chrome will show up a “Not Secure” warning when accessing any website that runs over HTTP. So if you don’t want to scare your potential customers away, best to have an SSL certificate installed on your website. More about SSL and why you need it in this blog post.
We’re happy to help you properly install and configure an SSL certificate for your website. You may need about two weeks to get this to work, so give yourself some time before launch.
6. Set a launch date
Once you have an idea what needs to be done prior to launch and how much time each task would require, you can now schedule a launch date. Ideally, give it a month or two at the very least.
Make a big deal out of the launch! Build anticipation by posting about it on all your social media pages accounts, creating promos and contests or sending out special announcements through your newsletter.
7. Start testing
Here are the things you will need to test:
- Conversion paths (such as where the customer goes after clicking “Buy Now” or “Click Here” and make sure they arrive at the right pages.)
- Forms (make sure the person gets the auto-response email when he/she signs up or is immediately included in the database or that analytics records each submission as a conversion)
- HTML/CSS errors
- Compatibility in all browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari)
- Site speed
8. Get support
Confirm that someone from your tech team will assist with the website launch. Or contact your third-party website provider and inform them about your scheduled launch, so when something goes wrong, you can contact them immediately.
9. Check your site one last time
Browse your site’s content and go over the testing procedures again for at least an hour.
Remember, anything could go wrong even on launch day, so make sure you and your team are ready to fix any glitch (hopefully, there’s none). If you didn’t get everything working 100%, don’t panic, you can easily build and test as you go.
I know you want a stress-free, almost-perfect website launch, and so over at Brand Shack, we really do the best we can to make is a smooth-flowing launch for you.
What were the challenges you faced in launching a new website? I’d love to hear your stories!