Finally, your website is built, and the project looks to be complete. Or is it? Creating a website can be a long process with many moving parts, so it’s hard to determine when you are finally done.
That’s where this handy website checklist comes in.
We created this website checklist to ensure you don’t overlook anything before launching your site. It should be an exciting time for your business, and the last thing you want is to launch the site with a glaring issue.
Below are 21 things that you should make sure you have done before launching your website.
1. Ensure Images are Compressed
By compressing the images on your website, you can reduce the file size while still maintaining quality. This will make a big difference in the speed of your website and provide a better user experience.
Uncompressed images are one of the biggest reasons why websites can take seemingly forever to load. This is especially true on mobile.
The good news is that compressing images isn’t hard. Our favorite tool is TinyPing, which seems to reduce the file size the most out of other tools we’ve tested.
You can also install a plug-in like Smush that will automatically compress your images as you upload them to WordPress. However, we’ve found that TinyPing reduces the file size much more.
2. Ensure Typography is Consistent
Keeping your typography consistent ensures the copy on your website is presented in a clear and easy to understand way. Consistent typography across your website goes a long way towards creating a unified design language for your brand that will ensure you appear professional.
Before launching your website, double check the typography. Verify that all headers use the same font, subheadings are presented, and the paragraph text is legible and easy to read.
3. Test Forms
Forms are super important for your website. It’s what allows you to generate leads and gather information about your visitors. Before setting the website live, check to make sure all form fields are correct. A general rule of thumb is that the more fields are there, the less likely people are to fill them out. So, try only to have as many fields as you absolutely need.
Also, ensure notifications are working correctly. This way, when someone fills out a form, all the key stakeholders in your organization are notified.
Lastly, make sure you have created separate forms for each different page or section even if they are the same form. This way, you can easily track which page users are converting on, instead of being left to guess.
Forms are so necessary that we recommend checking them regularly as you perform website maintenance in the post-launch phase.
4. Check Links
Double-checking all of the links on your website to make sure they work correctly is one of the most important items on this website checklist.
If someone clicks on a button on your website and it takes them to the wrong page or no page, your brand will look unprofessional. Worst of all, that visitor will likely bounce after that. Meaning, you lost out on a potential customer.
Fortunately, checking the website links doesn’t need to be a long, arduous process. You can use a tool like Broken Link Check to help you crawl your site and identify errors.
5. Proofread Website Copy
There’s nothing that will hurt your brand quite like misspellings and grammatical errors. That’s why it’s imperative that you follow this part of the website checklist and do a thorough spell-check of all your copy and content.
WordPress already has a built-in spell checker, so that should have alerted you to any misspellings. However, to be sure, we recommend copying and pasting all copy into a tool like Grammarly to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
6. Set up Google Analytics
Google Analytics provides an invaluable resource to your website. Before you launch your website, you need to make sure this is crossed off your checklist.
Not having this installed right away will not allow you to collect data about visitors coming to your website. You can never go back and retrieve this data, so you need to make sure this is installed and ready to go before launching your website.
Fortunately, installing the Google Analytics tracking code is not difficult. You are given a tracking code as soon as you set up your account, and can reference it later in the GA settings.
If you have WordPress, there should be a section that allows you to copy the GA tracking code into it for a quick setup. If you don’t have WordPress, you may have to manually go into each page and insert the code into the headers.
7. Configure SEO
Make sure you have optimized your website for SEO so people can find your site via search engines like Google, and even Bing. That means using the proper semantic structure for all pages and taking the time to fill out Meta tags for each page. This makes it easy for search engines to crawl your site.
Don’t understand what that means? No problem. If you have built your website with WordPress, this will be easy to cross off your website checklist before launch.
SEO plug-ins like Yoast SEO make it easy to quickly set up your website to optimize for SEO and indexation. Just follow the setup wizard, write up the Meta tags, and you should be good to go.
Keep in mind; if you are building new pages and posts for your website post-launch, those will need meta tags and descriptions as well.
8. Compare Wireframes to Website
Before launching a website, it’s best to check the website that has been developed in line with the original design laid out in the wireframes.
Not only is it cool to see how far you’ve come, but it will also help you make sure you didn’t miss anything that you had planned to include.
9. Test for Responsive Design
This is likely one of the more critical items on your website checklist. Generally, most of our testing, once a site has been developed is focused on responsiveness.
For a quick way to see how your website looks on mobile and tablet, use the inspect tool in Chrome and click on the icon with the mobile device at the top of the console. This lets you preview how your website looks on the most popular mobile devices today.
From there, you can write CSS media queries to make sure your site looks great on all devices.
10. Check for an SSL Certificate
There’s no getting around it –in 2019 your website needs an SSL certificate. This certificate will encrypt the connection between the user and your websites.
The reason why you need this certificate is because of browsers like Google Chrome and Safari label websites without this as “Unsecure” with a big red warning sign next to it.
Talk about making a bad first impression.
To avoid that, make sure you have correctly installed an SSL certificate on your website before launching. Fortunately, most website hosting providers offer this for free nowadays.
11. Configure Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an extremely valuable tool from Google. It’s biggest feature is that you can see how many impressions and clicks your website gets in Google’s SERP pages, along with what keywords people search for to find your website.
This information is super valuable and can be used to inform your content and SEO strategy.
Google Search Console will also alert you to errors on your website that hurt your SEO ranking. Things like indexation errors, broken links, or mobile compatibility issues.
12. Check Site Speed and Optimize as Needed
The speed of your website is one of the most significant factors search engines like Google use to rank your website. It is also extremely important to people. Longer load times are directly correlated with high bounce rates (when a user leaves).
To review your site speed and make sure there are no glaring issues that prevent the launch, use a tool like GTMetrix.
That tool will analyze your website’s speed and provide custom recommendations on how you can improve its load time going forward. Following many of the tips outlined in this article will help with your site speed –but nothing can top the insights of that tool.
13. Install a Security Plug-in
The security of your website should be a priority to tackle on this website checklist. It doesn’t matter how small your business is –hackers can attempt to attack your site with spam or malware.
The risk you run by not installing a security plug-in on your WordPress website is massive. Hackers could steal valuable information or corrupt the website. That means you would need to build your website again –from scratch. Never mind the fallout from the damage your brand would endure, as well as the cost of having to develop a new website.
There’s a lot more to website security than just the above. We’ll cover it in a full-length post one day –but for now, check out this guide from WP beginner for an in-depth guide to securing your site.
14. Create a Backup Version of the Site
Creating a backup of your website is a necessity. With so many potential threats to your website that could threaten to take it offline, you have no excuse not to.
That’s why we also recommend installing plug-ins that will back up your website. That way, if your website were to be attacked and go down, you would still have the files saved, and it could get it back up online.
Our recommended plug-in for backups is UpDraftPlus. Make sure to schedule regular backups, so you always have the files of the latest version of your site and database.
15. Upload Favicon
A favicon is the small image you see on the browser tab. It’s so tiny that it is quite possible you forgot about uploading it to your site during development.
Having a favicon uploaded is just another way to give your brand just a little more visibility. It’s one of those things people don’t notice unless it’s not there.
Then they notice.
Best practices for it to look good on most devices is to make it 128px x 128px. It should only take you a few minutes to cross this one off your website checklist.
16. Ensure Logo is Crisp
There is nothing that could hurt your brand quite like a logo that is pixelated or stretched. Talk about an eyesore.
With the rise of high-resolution displays across both desktop and mobile, it’s essential that you include a retina version of your business logo.
The retina logo is usually twice the resolution of the standard logo. It’s necessary to take the time to supply this. Otherwise, you run the risk of your logo looking weird.
If you use WordPress, there should be a separate field in your theme options to upload the retina version of your logo.
17. Submit XML Site Map to Google
Submitting an XML site map to Google via Search Console will speed up the indexation process of your site. An XML sitemap is simply a document of all the links on your website and how they relate to one another.
By submitting this doc, Google will discover it quicker and start including your site in its search results. Otherwise, it could take a few days for it to start appearing in the search results.
By installing a plug-in like Yoast SEO, you can quickly create this doc and have it submitted to Google.
18. Test for Cross Browser Compatibility
Different browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Firefox run on different technologies and frameworks. Long story short: this can affect the way your website appear across browsers. Usually, it is not a massive difference, and you may not run into any issues at all. But still, it is worth checking as you make your way through the rest of the items on this website checklist.
To test for compatibility across browsers, use a tool like BrowserStack.
Instead of having to load up your site on all the different browsers and go through each page manually, you will be able to view screenshots of how the site looks on each browser. This will allow you to identify any issues quickly and save you a lot of time.
19. Remove Unnecessary Plug-ins and Images
Unused plug-ins and images take up valuable storage space on your website’s server. This can result in your site running slowly, freezing, and overall being unresponsive. This is especially true if you are on a shared hosting plan. That’s why it’s best only to upload images that are being used on your site.
During the development phase, it’s possible that you uploaded more pictures than ended up being used. Before launching your site, it’s best to delete those images that you decided not to use.
20. Clear WordPress Post Revisions
By default, WordPress keeps a backup of every revision for each page. Meaning, as you or your developer made edits to each page, it saved the previous version in case you wanted to revert it later on.
While this can be helpful during development, once you’ve launched the site, it doesn’t make too much sense to keep these around. Plus, it can slow down your website. It’s not unheard of to see over 100 revisions for more complex webpages.
That’s why we believe it is best to install a plugin like WP Sweep so you can quickly clear post revisions and cross this item off your website checklist.
21. Check all Media Licenses
Lastly, before launching your site, check to make sure you own and have the right to use all images and other creative assets on your website.
This is especially true if you relied heavily on stock video or photography for creative assets on your website.
Launching your business website is an exciting time and will hopefully help you grow for years to come. It is worth taking the time before launch and going through a website checklist like this to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
You can always launch with a simpler website than you planned and add on to it accordingly. That’s a different story.
However, there should be no excuse for launching a website with errors that will hurt your brand and could easily be discovered beforehand.