Launching a website is a huge milestone for a business, and because of its critical and complex nature, several things can potentially go wrong, which in-turn, can hurt your business’s reputation and dampen your team’s spirit. As usual, we are here for the rescue, so do see our detailed checklist below to help you go through this process as smooth as possible, without any major disasters.
Before we move towards our awesome checklist, we have a very important question for you. When do you think is the right time to launch your website? If you ask your customers, the answer will always be “Yesterday!”. But the correct answer is to do it when you think your website’s design and features are good enough for your customers to see. Did you notice that we didn’t say bug-free or perfect? We said good enough because the pursuit of perfection can usually turn into a lost opportunity where businesses are too late to get things going on this front. Don’t do that; be agile and make sure you don’t fall into the perfection trap!
At this stage, we are assuming that the design and development of your website are ready, someone (either you or from your team) has also tested your website thoroughly, the bugs are fixed, and you know that now is the time to showcase what you got to the world.
Here are the things you need to make sure of when launching your website.
Have a launch plan ready. You don’t need anything fancy that consumes a couple of weeks of your time; just a to-do (this checklist can also work) with roles and responsibilities for you and the team would be enough. Also, have a schedule in place for everyone involved to follow. Double check that you are done with the testing, fixing, re-testing and regression testing of your website and the development team is confident that their work is launch-ready. If they tell you to wait or talk about a potential problem, do listen and consider their advice. You have hired them for a reason!
You need a final round of testing once you have deployed the website and here is what you need to do. Firstly, you should use a link checker to make sure there aren’t any broken links, this is an easy to find and fix problem but is usually overlooked by the team. We recommend using a free tool, such as broken link checker. Secondly, double-check site speed and make sure it is not below average. This isn’t the first time you should be doing this. Also, we recommend Monitis full page load tester.
- Run a User Acceptance Testing round internally, see all the flows and make sure nothing is crashing or looking out of place.
- Make sure all third-party services are up and running and you also have disclaimers mentioned about that on your website, including SMS, Email service providers, payment gateways, etc.
- Remove test accounts and sandbox credentials, if applicable.
- Remove test data, including test accounts, products, etc., if any.
- Change admin passwords, etc.
- If your website is on a CMS, for example, WordPress, Joomla, etc., see if you have all the required plugins and they aren’t conflicting with anything.
- It would benefit you greatly if you have a monitoring tool (Like Uptime, Full Page Load, Real User Monitoring) in place for observing your website’s performance (Hint: Us, Monitis!)
- You have a feature to let people subscribe to your email list/newsletter and you have a tool to create and send out promotional emails/newsletters.
- Check with your hosting service to make sure you have the right bandwidth to cater to your audience. Also, talk to them about uptime reliability.
- Make sure you have talked to your team about security and have the right measures in place.
Now let’s shift our focus to the content, here is our to-do!
- Do a final proofread of the content.
- Recheck for dummy or test content.
- Recheck your images, videos, animations, etc., to avoid copyright violations, remove remaining watermarks, etc.
- Recheck the narrative of the content, it should tell your story to the audience.
- If you have a blog section or you disseminate content regularly, make sure you are making use of RSS feed.
- We recommend you try A/B Testing or Heatmap testing as early as possible and when you do it, have a lead magnet in place to see how your audience interacts with your website.
- Double check social media links on your website and make sure your pages are active.
Time to see if the branding is on point.
- Recheck if the logo is of the right resolution.
- Recheck for consistency in branding throughout the website, use of logo, brand colors, brand message, etc.
- Do a final context check to make sure your audience can understand the narrative of the brand as well as the website.
Let’s talk about items related to Search Engine Optimization.
- Recheck if your website has both an XML sitemap and a robot.txt file.
- See if you have meta descriptions and title tags for all pages and alt tags for all images.
- You have analytics embedded on your website. If not, find quick help here.
- You have proved your website ownership to collect data from Google Search Console.
- Your website is responsive and is ready for Mobile-first indexing. You can test it here.
- You have tested a crawl simulation tool on your website to see how a search engine sees it and have made the required changes.
- You have set Google Alerts for your brand’s name to catch on any news published about your brand/website.
Have a social media/promotional plan in place.
- Create and publish pre, during, and post launch posts. Being in the public eye is also important, so write and send out a Press Release to all your press and media people, bloggers, influencers, industry experts and everyone who has subscribed to your mailing list. Tell people about your website, ask them to check it out and send you direct feedback.
- Engage in active listening and make sure you are documenting and implementing feedback from your users. In case of negative feedback, listen with patience and empathy and train your team to do the same.
Plan! Create a Key Performance Indicator Dashboard to keep an eye on the numbers, for example, analytics data, sales data, etc. Set targets for the coming year for sales as well as brand value and recognition. And lastly, backup once everything is up and ready and set an automated routine for that.
We know this checklist looks long and time-consuming, but as we have already discussed, this milestone is important for your business and you should make sure that things go smoothly. Having a process or a checklist in place is a smart decision and can save you and your team from a lot of inconveniences.
Some of the pointers may seem a little brief to you but because this isn’t a guide, we made sure that we don’t go into execution details. If you want us to help you with a guide on anything mentioned above, do let us know.
We love sharing our experience and helping our audience with useful content.
Until next time!