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13 Essential Checks Before & After Launching Your Website [Checklist]

13 Essential Checks Before & After Launching Your Website [Checklist] Blog Feature

Melissa Smith

Sr. Front-end Developer, 8+ Years of Web Development Expertise, 2x Recipient of IMPACT's Helpfulness Core Value Award

August 28th, 2015 min read

13-essential-checks-before-and-after-launching-your-websiteLights, Camera, Website Launch Time!

Whether you are the web designer, developer, marketer, project manager, or client, launching a website can be a very stressful/exciting time.  When you have looked at a website for so many months, things can be easily overlooked.

Not to worry! As a company, we are constantly updating our “Grocery List” of to-dos to help us create a smooth and stress-free website launch process.

Below is a look into the checklist IMPACT uses to achieve just that.

Pre-Launch Items

1. SEO (Page Titles, Meta Descriptions, ALT Tags)

Page Titles are the most important element for SEO and are meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page's content. To not get cut off in search results, it should be fewer than 70 characters and including keywords will help ensure that it gets crawled and found by the right audiences.

Meta Descriptions while not so important to search engine rankings anymore, they are still important to reaching your audience..  “These short paragraphs are a webmaster’s opportunity to advertise content to searchers and to let them know exactly whether the given page contains the information they're looking for.” - Meta Descriptions, MOZ

ALT Tags need to be added to every image but avoid keyword stuffing. ALT tags are used to describe an image on a page so that the visitor knows what the image is if they are visually impaired or if the image doesn’t load properly.

2. Proofread Site Content & Premium Content

Read everything. Read it out loud, have someone else read it for you to make sure the site doesn’t go live with spelling and grammar mistakes. Make sure all the lorem ipsum has been removed or replaced. Small mistakes like these can reflect badly on your brand and hurt your professional credibility.

3. 301 Redirects

301 redirects often say, “Hey Search Engine, this page no longer here and has permanently moved to this new page.”  Pre-launch you want to make sure you have a spreadsheet set up with a column of the old links, next to a column of the new links.

4. Functionality Check (Forms, Links, Social Sharing)

From making sure your form is functioning, redirecting to the correct thank you page, and getting sent to the right person to social sharing to the company logo linking back to the homepage, take the time to check your entire site to make sure that everything is functioning how it should be. Don’t assume everything is working.

5. Cross Browser & Responsive Checks

You want to make sure your site is pixel perfect.  It is very important to make sure your site is compatible with all browsers (IE 9+, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera) and all devices (Android, iPhone, Tablets) so that all users have the same, high-quality experience. (Plus, mobile responsiveness plays a huge part of your search rank in Google now.)

6. 404 Page

At some point, a visitor is going to reach a 404 page. Whether they add a crazy extension at the end of the URL or type it incorrectly, you want your clever 404 page to funnel the visitor back to your site or else you risk losing your visitor to the competition.

7. Favicon

Something that gets overlooked a lot is the favicon. The favicon also known as a shortcut icon, tab icon, or bookmark icon brands the tab or window in which your website is open. It gives the user an easy way to identify your site when they have numerous tabs open and gives a website a professional, consistent look.

Post Launch Items

1. 301 Redirects (Yes, again)

Take that spreadsheet you created during pre-launch and set up all the redirects so you don’t lose any traffic that is finding your old pages.

2. Google Analytics

Set up analytics to make sure you are capturing web data. This will help you to continually monitor and grow your website over time. Note: It’s also important to block your internal IPs so you don’t skew your own data.

3. Set up Google, Bing & Yahoo Webmaster Tool Accounts

Verify your site and submit your sitemap. Setting up webmaster tools will help you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in the search engines and make sure that all your pages are getting indexed.

4. Remove NoIndex, NoFollow Tag (if necessary)

This is the most important thing to take care of after your site has launched. Developers usually include this so those robots will start crawling your site.

5. Install Heat map Tracking Software

A heat map will let you see how your customers engage with your site  (how far down the page they scroll, where they click, etc.) Not sure which heat map software to use, here are a few that we at IMPACT have tried, Hotjar, Inspectlet, Crazy Egg.

6. Have a Drink!

Cheers, you did it! Whether it was a quick turn-around or a long couple of months you deserve a nice cold drink. Enjoy!

Get Your Checklist 

Print out this handy one-pager as you approach your next website launch and start striking items off the list. If you need help getting started or even building out your site, feel free to reach out to us here at IMPACT

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