Checklist: What Every Website Needs Before Launching

September 10, 2020

By Taryn Hefner

Taryn runs Marketing at Join It and is a lover of all things data! You can frequently find her experimenting in the kitchen, absorbed in a book, or brushing up on her Python coding skills.

View other posts by Taryn

When you’re launching a website, you likely have a lot of balls in the air! It can be easy to miss things and let important items slip through the cracks. To ensure you’ve checked all the most important items on your website before launch, we’ve created this checklist. We’ve separated it into three sections based on the technical skill needed to accomplish each task. 

Let’s start with the fundamentals. 

Basic  

  • Include Contact Information 

At the very least, visitors to your site should know how to get in touch with you. Especially if you’re a business like a restaurant or local shop, you should include hours, address, phone number, and email address if applicable. Or, make it easy to find your contact form through a “Contact Us” page, or something similar.  

  • Test Your Contact Form

In the same vein, if you do have a contact form, send a test through it so you know that you’ll be receiving all the information when users try and reach out! If you’re not receiving the email, you’ve got some digging to do. 

  • Proofread and Check Your Formatting 

If you’ve written all the content for your website, make sure someone else can take a look at it. Fresh eyes can catch all sorts of issues we can overlook during the writing process. Make sure your formatting is consistent across pages, as well.  

  • Remove Any Placeholders 

If you’ve used any sort of Lorem Ipsum copy as a placeholder, or temporary images with watermarks, remove those before launch! Ensure all your logos and photos are high-quality, not temporary placeholders.  

  • Test Social Media Buttons

Click through your social media buttons. Do they go to a generic Facebook login screen, or your business page? Make it as easy as possible for your users to find you around their favorite social media page!  

  • Check Titles and Descriptions  

Your page titles should be unique to each page and relevant to the content on that page. The same goes for descriptions! These are the information that users will see in search engine results, so make sure that they tell users exactly what to expect when they click on your page. 

Tip: Titles aren’t limited by character limits, but by pixel length. Test out your titles using this tool to make sure they aren’t cut off for your users!  

  • User-Friendly URLs

URLs should be short and easy to read for both users and the robots that crawl your pages for search engines. For example, you know what to expect when you click on example.com/blog, but example.com/page2 isn’t as descriptive. 

Tip: Use hyphens between words to increase readability! Google has stated that they prefer hyphens to underscores when separating words in URL structures.   

  • Test Payments 

If you sell a product or accept payments for a service, run a test payment to ensure that the process is easy to follow and works as expected. Leave out some necessary information to make sure an error is properly displayed and can help users figure out what to fix to create a successful transaction.  

  • Image Licensing or Citation 

Unless you took the pictures on your website yourself, you should either have the proper licensing in place to use them as marketing material or have cited and paid the owner. Remember, just because it’s available on Google doesn’t mean it’s available for free use! 

 

Intermediate 

  • Browser Testing  

Test your website in mobile browsers and tablets, as well as desktop devices in different browsers. Your website might load differently in a different browser, and if there’s a problem with images or text sizing, you’ll want to know about it before you launch! If you don’t have access to different devices, using an emulator tool is an easy way to test your site on multiple platforms. 

  • Verify Analytics Tagging

Whether you’re using Google Analytics or another tool to track your website usage, make sure that it’s implemented, and implemented correctly! Be sure your code is in the right place on your page and only appears once, otherwise, you’ll be double-counting your visitors, and your metrics will be incorrect. 

  • Implement a Custom 404 Page

Errors are bound to happen, whether it’s from your user incorrectly typing in your page address or someone else linking to a page that doesn’t exist. The last thing you want is your user landing on an error page that doesn’t offer them any solutions! Implement a page that has a search bar, or a button to easily take your user back to the homepage. This will help keep your users on your website and ensure they don’t feel stuck on an error page. 

  • Implement a Backup Solution  

Any website is susceptible to problems, and you want to ensure that it’s as easy as possible to get things up and running again. Work with a backup storage provider to ensure that as much data from your website as possible is stored, usually in the cloud, and that regular backups are scheduled to take place either daily or weekly, depending on how often you update your website. 

  • Need a Privacy Policy?

Are you collecting data for marketing purposes? What about storing payment information? You’ll need a privacy policy to outline what’s sort of information you’re collecting from your users, how that information is being used, and how you keep it safe. In many places, privacy policies are legally required, so be sure you do your research on what to include in yours.

Advanced  

  • Crawl for Broken Pages  

Crawling your site with a bot like Screaming Frog will help you find any broken pages either before your launch or directly after. Be on the lookout for any 302, 404, or 500 errors. 

  • Check for Duplicate URLs 

Did you know that Google sees example.com and example.com/ as two different URLs, even if they have the same information on them? If you have URLs that have different addresses but the same content, even if the only difference in the address is a trailing slash, you have duplicate URLs. Choose one format that will be your default, and redirect the URLs that don’t comply with your default style using a 301 redirect.

Tip: Why not a 302 redirect? 302 redirects are temporary and only meant to be used for a short time. 301 redirects are permanent, and search engines see them as such, transferring an original page’s authority to the new page. 

  • Verify XML Sitemap 

Your XML sitemap will allow search engines to better crawl and understand your website and all its pages. This is especially important with larger websites where pages can be hard to find, buried within different directories or categories. 

  • Exclude Your Own Traffic

Collect the IP addresses of your office (or coworkers if you work remotely) and exclude them from your main source of data within your analytics tool. That way, you won’t skew your own results when you visit your website. 

 

Launching a website is a stressful, exciting time that is full of possibilities! It’s easy to get caught up in the highly visible things like announcing your new site on social media and helping members through the signup process, but it’s important to not let the vital technical details slip by! Bookmark this page for your next great website debut. 

 

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