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Ultimate Checklist for Launching a Website: Before, During, and After a Launch

Alekh Verma | February 7, 2023
Launch a website

No matter if it’s your first time or you are a seasoned website owner, launching a new website can always seem a little daunting. Websites can be quite complex and there are a handful of ways for one to slip up and make a mistake, during the inception of the website or maybe right before the launch. One can’t predict when one might make a blunder that could potentially lead to a huge disaster. For instance, what if you fail to test a crucial data capture form and miss out on generating a ton of new leads? Or, what if you fail to set up site redirects correctly and those important search engine users receive a page not found message whenever they’re trying to open a page? What a disaster it could be.

Wouldn’t it be much simpler to have a thorough website checklist to go over before every site launches instead of stressing about the what ifs? One bible checklist that could be used for landing pages, enterprise websites, microsites, and anything in between.

We have good news on that front. We’ve already created one such list for you. The ultimate checklist is to find out what you should do before, during, and after launching a website.

What to Do Before You Even Start Your Website Design

This part applies to you even if you’re already a website owner and are only redesigning the website. Before you start the design process, there are a few things that should be considered. Keep these points in mind before you hire a website designer or dive into designing your website on your own-

Related: Hiring a Web Designer or Using a Website Builder? (esearchlogix.com)

1.  Examine your old website. (If you have one)

One of the most important steps before you start the redesigning process of your website is to first analyze it thoroughly for past mistakes so that you can avoid repeating those mistakes in the future. You must take a moment to ask yourself questions like-

  • What is the goal of a fresh look or remodel?
  • What objectives haven't been met with the current site?
  • How will a new design benefit the brand-new company?

You may identify your gaps using the responses to these questions, which will then help you create goals for the new website.

2.  Crawl your former website and make notes about its architecture. (If you have an old website)

Any plan for the construction of a new website must include a phase for documenting the site's structure. Whether your website is tiny or huge, manually reviewing each page can take a lot of time and effort. You can achieve this by using a crawling tool.

Using a crawling tool will provide you with a sense of the pages, assets, and structure of your site as it currently stands. This is an essential stage in developing your website development strategy since it will provide you with a clearer idea of the pages that have previously existed, the redirects that have been put in place, and the current state of the metadata.

Moreover, by doing this, you'll be much less likely to create duplicate pages or forget to do a redirect while making changes to the layout of your website.

3.  Obtain benchmark information from your former website (if you have one), and check testing protocols.

You should continue looking for gaps that will yield data-driven insights to support your new approach in addition to comparing how your new site performs to the old. You should confirm testing protocols as well. You'll soon start testing your website to make sure all the various parts are functional, everything functions as it should, and there is a system in place for keeping track of bugs and improvements.

Instead of asking people to email their opinions, use a form (like Google Forms) to speed up the feedback collection process. After that, assign one person the responsibility of prioritizing bugs and vetting all the creative feedback you receive via the form.

4.  Establish your objectives for the new design, your plans for achieving them, and your criteria for success.

Once you’ve finished identifying the gaps in your former website, it’s time to finally establish goals for the new design. Craft a plan based on your observations from your previous site and try to understand how you can fill those gaps in the future. For instance, you might come to conclusions such as-

  • We require usability because the existing site is cumbersome.
  • We require a visual upgrade because the current site no longer appears fashionable.
  • We require a structure that is more SEO-friendly and has a better UX because the current site is ineffective.

No matter what your objectives are, you'll need to know precisely how a new website will assist you to accomplish them so that you may tailor its implementation appropriately.

5.  Action items, roles, and duties should be listed.

Now it’s finally time to start creating a website project management checklist. What kind of content must be written? What call-to-action should be developed? Make a master list of everything you need for your website, including completion dates for each item.

Next, designate a person or group to complete each action item. A website typically requires a large team to launch marketing professionals write the content, designers pick the images, and layout artists create the overall visual style. A technical team handles all back-end development. You should establish a detailed plan for what each team or individual is accountable for to make sure everyone is on the same page and there is no misunderstanding of roles.

The DARCI paradigm, which stands for Decision Maker(s), Accountable, Responsible, Consulted, Informed, is a fantastic tool for doing this. It's an effective tool that will make it clear to everyone who is in charge of carrying out which action items, who should be consulted before making any final choices, and who should be consulted after a decision has been made or action has been taken.

6.  Think about the worst-case situations.

No matter how many plans you devise or how many precautions you take, there’s always a slight chance of something or another going wrong. There’s always the potential for a human error where you could miss something that could hinder the process of your website going live successfully. Thus, we advise you to always be prepared for the worst-case scenarios.

One way for you to predict any future mishaps is to take a poll of people who have helped build the website. Create a few backup plans for what to do when — not if — some of these things go wrong by asking everyone involved in the launch of your website about their worries about what could go wrong.

7.  Pick Your CMS Carefully.

If you've never launched a site before, you might feel intimidated by the lengthy list below. Even if you used a reliable CMS to build your website, it shouldn't take too long to go through most of the items on this list.

With the help of a CMS, or content management system, you can frequently develop a website using a template that has already been made, optimize your material for SEO, and change information after it has been published. You may already be familiar with utilizing a CMS if you've already constructed your website. If not, then choose your CMS wisely.

Building your pages on a content management system (CMS) that already performs a lot of the work for you, however, can make going through this checklist less time-consuming if you're still developing a website.

Related: The 12 Best CMS Platforms for Creating Websites and Managing Content Effectively  

8.  Create a consistent brand image.

Choose a brand message and tone that you will stick with across all of your presentations. You will appear more trustworthy, credible, and memorable as a result of this. To achieve this, you’ll have to-

  • Recognize the value you offer.
  • Select a mission statement, vision statement, and tagline that reflects both your brand's identity and this value.
  • Pick typefaces and colors that effectively communicate that identity.
  • Choose the imagery you'll employ to help you further your message.

9.  Create a strong SEO Strategy.

Once you’ve dealt with creating plans to eliminate past mistakes and structuring your website, make sure you take out some time and resources to formulate a strong SEO strategy for your website. Take all things into account such as XML sitemaps, site architecture, content hierarchy, metadata, etc.

  • Identify the keywords that you wish to rank for by performing simple keyword research.
  • Construct a content strategy around those keywords.
  • Recognize which of your existing pages can be changed and which ones need to be developed from scratch.
  • Determine which pages are no longer needed, and thus, can be removed.
  • Figure out where the pages that are no longer needed can be directed (using a 301 redirect).

10. Plan out your conversion pathways.

The activities you want customers to do and the manner in which you’ll collect their information must be determined once you have a clear grasp of the main pages that will be present on your site. This involves considering:

  • What high-end top-of-funnel offers are required?
  • What action at the bottom of the funnel will be displayed on the main pages?
  • What documents must be produced?
  • What thank you pages, and landing pages must be developed?
  • How will conversions be monitored?
  • What will take place when a website visitor converts? (Email responder, etc.)

11. Install analytics program. (If needed)

  • Select the analytics tools you'll use for the new site.
  • Choose whether to use any existing Analytics tracking scripts or whether new accounts and scripts are required.
  • Establish new accounts (if applicable).

What to Check after Building Your Website

Once you’re done building a website with a CMS of your choice or from scratch, next comes the launch of said website. However, there’s a checklist you must go through and make sure your website is good enough to be launched. It’s crucial to thoroughly go over every piece of information on your website before launch. You must confirm that everything is in place, functioning properly, and looking stunning, from data-driven content and downloadable papers to rich media like videos and photographs.

It’s vital to remember that before launching your new website, you’ll need to put up a staging site. Before going live, content and code changes are prepared and tested on staging sites, which are exact replicas of your website hosted on a private server. The staging site provides an almost replica of the live environment so that updates may be edited and tested there. This is done to ensure that if you make a change, nothing goes wrong or your website crashes.

Later, you'll use your content management system (CMS) to sync templates and content between the staging environment and your live website.

1. Check your site content for errors.

Reviewing all of the material on your website, including page content and premium content, is one of the most crucial things you should do before the launch (e-books, case studies, etc.). Nothing is more annoying than a misspelling on a crucial page. If you don't want to come across as unprofessional, you must proofread every piece of content. Here are some things that you must cross-check-

  • The website's material has been checked for grammar and spelling.
  • The website has corrected information on how to reach the business.
  • Generic content has been appropriately deleted and replaced such as lorem ipsum.
  • All paid content has been proofread, including case studies, eBooks, and whitepapers. Grammar and spelling are perfect.
  • The copyright date includes the current year (perhaps in the footer).

2. Substitute final designs and images for all placeholders.

A lot of people use placeholder images while building a website because they might not have the final image ready, or the final image needs a little tweaking. So, make sure to check all placeholder images before you launch your website.

Do a thorough search to identify all the placeholder images and make sure to replace them with the final image or design that needs to be there before the launch of the website.

3. Make sure your content aligns with your new brand.

Doesn’t matter if you’re redesigning your website or building it from scratch, you need to make sure that your content aligns with the overall image of your brand. As we’ve already discussed below, the motif of your website should match all the other platforms for your business, things like the color scheme, brand image, brand messaging, etc., so that your audience does not get thrown off and can easily trust your brand. So, before you launch your website, make sure the content on your website is aligned with the overall image, style, and voice of your brand.

Also, make sure that the mission statements and tag lines of your company are updated correctly.

4. Make sure the styling and formatting are done correctly.

One thing that you must always keep in mind is that the formatting of your website is consistent across all pages. If different pages on your website have different formatting, or maybe have different font or style, then it leads to a bad customer experience, which we’re sure no business owner aspires to. If your website is consistent throughout, then it would most definitely help your website look more professional.

So, make sure all your headers, paragraphs, and lists are formatted in a correct and consistent manner. Additionally, don’t forget to cross-check the implementation of color patterns according to the brand colors, such as for button and link colors.

5. Make sure your design is appealing to the eye.

Aesthetics is the latest buzzword fluttering around and for all the right reasons. People nowadays are more likely to abandon something if it's not aesthetically pleasing. If a website does not look good aesthetically then there are no chance people would want to go past the front page and forget about them ever wanting to visit the site again. People want to see things that are pleasing to their eyes and align with the overall aesthetic of a brand.

So, make sure you cross-check the aesthetic design of your website before publishing it online. Keep a lookout and check if all the scripts, CSS, and images are optimized across all the pages of your website.

6. Make sure all your content is properly licensed.

Even if you hired a web designer or developer to handle the design, it is your obligation to make sure that there are no copyright licensing problems. As the owner of the website, it’s your responsibility to make sure all the fonts, images, and other content on your website have been properly cited or licensed. Otherwise, you might have to pay a large infringement settlement.

7. Check the website's usability (UX).

As a website owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re providing the best experience for your users. Browser compatibility is one way to ensure a good user experience. Even though your website looks great in the browser you're using, it can nevertheless seem different when accessed from a different browser. For this reason, you should check that your website is compatible with many browsers, notably the most widely used ones like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. You can check for browser compatibility on your own by visiting your website using several browsers to see if everything appears as intended.

A good UX is the most basic requirement that a good website has to fulfil. There are several ways for one to do that-

  • Make sure web pages work with all major browsers.
  • Pages on websites work on all devices.
  • All audio, video and image files are formatted correctly and function on all devices.
  • All premium content, including case studies, eBooks, and whitepapers, is correctly and safely preserved in the appropriate libraries and databases.
  • All internal connections on a website are functional.
  • The right accounts are linked to the social media sharing icons.
  • The homepage is accessible via the company logo.

8. Verify that the conversion pathways have been correctly implemented.

One thing that a lot of people end up overlooking is setting the conversion pathways. Make sure it’s on your checklist and verify that every click and button on your website leads to the right place. This comprises checking that the thank you and landing pages function properly or that the required forms are available. You may, for instance, test the online forms manually to see if messages are successfully received or submitted.

Moreover, CTA (call-to-action) buttons must be present and placed correctly as part of the conversion paths audit. A CTA is any element on your website that requests users to take action. This may, for instance, be a button or something as straightforward as large text. CTAs are the primary method of telling your visitors what you want them to do.

Conversion rates rise when CTAs are obvious, and you are directing people to take a particular action. Therefore, before launching your site, you must make sure that your CTAs function properly and are present in the appropriate places.

9. Make a plan for your website's backups.

There are many things that can knock your entire website offline, from hackers to a simple coding mistake. You should always have a dependable WordPress backup solution like BlogVault set up so that if anything goes wrong, you can quickly restore your site. This will give you the peace of mind you need.

By effectively implementing site security and regular backups, you can avert data loss and defend against malware and other harms. Make sure to check that:

  • There is a backup schedule in place.
  • The location of the backup has been found.
  • After launch, a plan for implementation will be set into motion.

10. Perform a stress test.

A stress test may not always be required in a standard website redesign because the traffic surge might not overwhelm your server’s capability. But any business that prepares for a significant increase in visitors at particular times, such as holidays or just after a significant press event, must do a stress test (also known as a load test). Simulating up to tens of thousands of concurrent virtual users from various places across the world will help you determine how much traffic your website can take. You should choose a stress test that is as realistic as possible because, while they imitate virtual users, they won’t exactly replicate a real-life scenario. Find out which load tests the developer advises.

Before you run a stress test, be sure to let your host or provider know that you intend to do so. If not, your test could appear to be a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on your provider. Unauthorized load tests are viewed as a breach of terms of service by several providers.

Testing your website before it goes live will provide you with more assurance that visitors won’t be dissatisfied with your products right away because the user experience is a key factor in how people perceive your business.

Checklist for Website Post-Launch

Once you’ve published your website, your journey doesn’t end there. You've finally pushed the button, and your website is live but there are still a few things left for you to do. Our checklist goes past the launch of your website and tells you what you need to do even after your website is live. Let’s read further to find out what those things are-

11. Recheck the website's user experience.

It’s a good idea to test your site now that it has gone live to see whether you have obtained the same results as you did before. So, keep an eye out for any potential browser compatibility issues, test the design’s responsiveness across various devices and browsers, see if the CSS/HTML has been sufficiently validated, double-check that external and internal links, as well as social share icons, work properly, and so on.

You’ll want to make sure the experience is consistent with what you reviewed before it went live in case there was a problem with the implementation.

  • Verify that your design is displaying consistently across browsers as you anticipated.
  • Make sure that your design is displaying consistently across all devices.
  • Make sure that CSS and HTML are correctly validated.
  • The rendering of CSS styling is accurate.
  • The favicon is present and functioning correctly.
  • All internal connections on a website are functional.
  • External links between websites function correctly and open in new tabs.
  • The sharing icons on social media are operational.
  • Feeds are operating as intended (RSS, news, social media).
  • The homepage is accessible via the company logo.
  • There are 404 Redirect pages (page-not-found.aspx).

12. Make sure your conversion paths are set up properly.

Once your website goes live, now it’s time to check whether the conversion paths you set up before are working or not. Take some time out to verify all the functionalities of the website and check each and every CRM integration, lead generation form, or any other technology that’s integral to the normal functioning of a website. We recommend you most definitely should crosscheck these things-

  • Make sure that all your lead generation forms are submitting data successfully.
  • Cross check whether the thank you message is being displayed or not after the submission of a form.
  • Emailing and/or storing form data in a company database are both options.
  • Check if the autoresponders are functioning well (if applicable).

13. Ensure the security and backups of your website are working properly.

Check to see if your backup plan is being implemented correctly right now. Check to see if copies of the website are produced frequently. If you used plugins, consider how you'll update them.

You may want to check to see if any security measures you've employed, such as capping the number of logins attempts users can make in a particular time frame or whitelisting IP addresses, are protecting your website.

  • Scripts for continuous monitoring have been set up.
  • A strategy has been established for updating plugins (if applicable).
  • Make sure that everyone who needs to know about your organization's password policies is informed.

If necessary, buy an SSL certificate. Make sure you have an SSL certificate before launching because it can take up to two weeks to buy and install one. (An SSL certificate will guarantee that your website is encrypted, preventing hackers from eavesdropping on your data. These will not only make visitors to your website feel more comfortable, but it will also improve your website's SEO because SSL is now factored into Google's search ranking algorithm.

14. Observe all relevant laws.

Make sure all applicable rules and regulations are followed by your website. Internet legislation can be complicated, and each sector must abide by its own set of regulations. Since this site does not provide legal advice, it is best to speak with an attorney to ensure that you are not overlooking anything. Here are a few that you might want to be aware of:

  • Accessibility for individuals with disabilities is provided on websites (WAI-ARIA).
  • Your web pages should specify if a website uses cookies (required in some countries).
  • Make sure your website complies with usage rights for code, fonts, and images that were either purchased or borrowed.
  • Ensure visitors to the website can see the terms and privacy policies.
  • If you're storing and processing credit cards, make sure your website complies with PCI standards.

15. Check the website for faults by crawling it.

Look for any unintentional inconsistencies by contrasting the crawl with the prior crawl. Additionally, you should check that the search engine indexing settings are correct on each page.

You should also look for consistency in formatting. You should check your website for any of these odd formatting mistakes since font codes might occasionally be inadvertently inserted into a page. Make sure your formatting is consistent throughout and that your material doesn't contain any odd blips.

16. Verify the technical SEO elements for mistakes.

  • All of the URLs, page titles and meta descriptions are present and adhere to the original technical SEO plan.
  • Site pages have optimized load times.
  • There is now a dynamic XML sitemap available.
  • Search engines have received the XML sitemap.
  • Site information architecture is constantly reflected in-page URLs.
  • All previous URLs have been redirected using 301s (redirecting old to new pages).
  • The website's images are appropriately compressed (which helps with load time).

17. Verify your analytics setup

When your website is up and running, you'll probably want to know who visits it, what sort of browsers they use, and other user-related information. If you want to constantly enhance your website so that the material is tailored to the audience, this kind of information is essential. You might want to think about creating a Google Analytics account to accomplish this.

You can choose from a variety of Google Analytics substitutes as well. Make sure your website is configured to collect web analytics and data. You shouldn't forget this important information because it will enable you to continue improving your website in the future.

  • Your tracking scripts and website analytics codes have been added.
  • Analytics tracking has been disabled for relevant IP addresses.
  • Your analytics software has properly created funnels and objectives (if applicable).
  • The accounts for Google Webmaster and Google Analytics are correctly synchronized.
  • The Google Ads accounts are correctly connected (if applicable).

18. Create a post-launch improvement wish list.

Your new website needs to be useful, attractive, and strategically placed. On the first try, it probably won't be everything you thought and imagined it would be, and you don't want to spend months building a site that people might not like. What happens if your client dislikes it? What happens if conversion rates fall? That can result in time and money lost.

Instead, it's preferable to launch a strong website, test it, and then develop on top of it. This method of building websites is known as growth-driven design. Make a list of all the things you want to include but can't do for the launch itself. As you learn more about how people interact with the site, you may add features and aspects to this list. One of these user testing tools can be used to accomplish this.

Conclusion

Launching a new website can be quite a daunting task. You need all the help you can get to make sure nothing is missed during the creation or launch of a website, but it doesn’t end there. One must always keep on the lookout to make a website better. You can incorporate personalization in your approach to providing better UX to your customers. Another way is to accept the omnichannel approach.

We have provided you with the checklist for what to do before, during, and after the launch of a website. But keep in mind that you need to have a spectacular marketing strategy for your website to become known amongst people, or at least your customer base. There is no point in you creating a website and not telling anyone about it.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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