Designing and launching a website, not to mention choosing the right web hosting platform, involves a lot of time and effort.
One of the best ways to ensure you remember everything and increase your chances for success is to follow a checklist. Remember that there are three distinct stages involved in launching a website: before, during, and after.
Here’s your very own checklist created to help you ensure that your website launch is as smooth as possible. Let’s get down to it.
Before you even think about releasing your website to the world, we recommend you put it on a staging site and carry out some automated testing. This will allow you to check for errors and make sure everything is running as it should be. The rest of your preparation goes like this:
Produce and optimize your content
It’s all about your content. To begin with, it doesn’t matter how good your proactive customer care is. Content is what will get you noticed, content is what will attract customers, and content is what will make customers return to your site. Your content should load properly—and quickly.
Nowadays, a large number of searches are made on mobile devices, so make sure your content is optimized for mobile.
The type of content you need depends on your business. A website for a sales app will require different content to a sports nutrition drink. But, as a rule, before launching a website, you should have about five blog posts and—if you have the technical capacity—three podcasts or videos. This will give your customers a sense of your brand’s personality and allow you to develop a voice for the content you produce.
Proofread your content
So you’ve produced content and optimized it, great. But don’t stop there—get another member of your team to edit it for you.
No customer will be impressed when reading about your online video call technology to find material that’s riddled with mistakes. Proofread your website including blogs, home pages, and landing pages to check for common mistakes.
A few common mistakes to avoid include:
- Errors in grammar and spelling
- Stylistic inconsistencies
- Redundant content
- Repetitive word use
- Messy formatting
Make use of online grammar checking tools to help you address mistakes and ensure consistency in your content.
Your website should be simple and easy to read. Make use of website design tips to make it scannable; use consistent font sizes as well as bullet points, headings, and bolding.
Ensure your SSL certificate works (HTTPS)
SSL certificates verify the identity of your website and allow you to use HTTPS for secure data transmission. These certificates are especially important for ecommerce sites. Even if this is not your type of business, don’t ignore this step. SSL certificates are available free of charge and if you don’t get one, your website may be classified as “not secure”.
The more holistic web servers will handle the SSL certificate installation for you.
Use search engine optimization (SEO)
All good so far. You’ve written your website’s content and given it a thorough proofread. You now need to make sure that search engines can crawl your website efficiently and suggest your content appears on the first page of its search results.
The most efficient way to optimize SEO ranking is by having rich and non-duplicated content on your website. Then comes the relevant metadata to describe each piece of content. This is what’s displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Every page should include a meta title (up to 60 characters with spaces) and a meta description (up to 160 characters with spaces). These are the first content elements that are crawled by search engine bots as they scan the content on your website and rank how relevant your pages are and assess where they’ll appear on SERPs.
Make use of analytics
To better understand your audience and record useful metadata, set up analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, which automate processes.
The subsequent analysis will include information such as which pages receive the most traffic and how effective your goal tracking events are. Embedding these analytics tools into your website before launch will give you handy insights as soon as it is released into the world.
Moreover, structured data markup (also known as schema data) can be used to improve the performance of your pages. These data snippets can improve your site’s searchability and potentially display extra elements such as Trustpilot reviews in search results.
Update your content management system (CMS) to the latest version
There are numerous content management systems (CMS) to choose from. A CMS is software used to manage the creation and modification of digital content.
The best thing about most CMSs is that you don’t need any web programming experience. This type of software is generally very intuitive to use and, more often than not, gives you a wide selection of tools to build, maintain, and manage your pages and blog posts.
Prepare for the worst-case scenarios and launch the site
Once you’ve followed all the steps above, ask your whole team for their honest opinion. You don’t need to go through an ISO process, but you do need to preempt potential problems.
Now is the last chance to make any final changes. Also, ask people for any concerns they might have about mishaps that could happen along the way. Be sure to devise a few backup plans for what to do in these worst-case scenarios.
You should have a plan for everything you need to do before the launch and then pick a suitable date. Hopefully, all your hard work has paid off. But the work is never over. A website launch is a continuous task.
So, your content is ready to go, you’ve thought about security and prepared your CMS – it’s time to get your site out to the world. Make it live, but be sure to make the following checks to ensure that everything runs smoothly:
Enable your domain name
How to do this depends on where your domain is registered, but the procedure will be similar whether it’s .ca or .nz. Generally, you should go to your account and then check to see if the domain is registered. If it is, put a checkmark in the right box.
Ensure your site is secure
This is, without a doubt, the most crucial post-launch stage as it’s vital to double-check the security of your website. If you’ll be accepting payments from clients or storing personal information using cloud computing, seek legal guidance or advice from a specialist to guarantee your data governance is up to scratch (what is data governance?) and that your site is secure.
Save DNS settings
Save your domain name system (DNS) settings and wait for them to take effect. The proximity of your actual location to a DNS hub will most likely determine how quickly your website URL is available but bear in mind that it can take up to 24-48 hours for this to be implemented.
Your website is hopefully now getting as many visits as you were hoping it would. But don’t make the mistake of putting all your effort into the launch and then forgetting about it — the key to continued success is continued website maintenance.
Check there are no problems with third-party tool integrations
Integrations, such as your CRM system, ecommerce software, and marketing platform, connect to your website and assist you in running your company. You don’t want to find out about a potential data loss issue after it’s already happened, so make sure you are constantly checking your third-party integrations.
Test your website’s user experience
The first step to ensuring that your customers stay on your new site is to test how good its user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are — so be sure to carry out UX and UI tests. AI can help you with UX design, so don’t be afraid to try new approaches.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do all the internal and external links function correctly?
- Do your Call to Action (CTA) buttons point to the correct pages?
- Is your navigation simple?
- Is each page taking the user in the direction you want them to go?
Examine your website from the perspective of your customers. Ensure that each photo loads correctly, each design is as it should be, and your copy is simple to comprehend. If you notice any problems, correct them as soon as possible. The more eyes that can check your UX the better. Ask someone who knows nothing about your business — their unbiased opinion will be valuable.
Crawl your site and check your technical SEO components for errors
Re-crawl your site to make sure there were no mistakes or issues once it went live. When you compare this crawl to the one you did before it went live, you’ll notice if there are any significant differences.
Is there any inconsistency between the two crawls?
If there is, double-check that these inconsistencies were not intentional and address any concerns that have arisen.
Examine your technical SEO components through your crawl:
- Make sure that all of the page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs are correct.
- Ensure there are no indexing concerns.
- Confirm that your load speed is as fast as it should be and optimized with PageSpeed Insights.
- Make certain that your site’s pages are not set to no index or no follow.
- Check that any old URLs have 301 redirects in place.
- Establish that your XML sitemap has been published to search engines.
Organic traffic comes largely from how much effort you put into search engine optimization. You should be able to rank for queries that are critical to your business if your on-page SEO is up to date and you have quality content related to important keywords.
You’ll see a spike in traffic once you start ranking on page one.
Promote your new website
Now your new website is up and running, enjoy it and extract the most possible value from it. But, remember, the competition is fierce, so don’t just sit back and wait for something to happen.
Make some noise.
Here are some tried-and-tested ways to make people hear about your website:
You don’t have to announce your launch to every single contact in the area code 726 location, but you should use all of your social media networks — Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter — to tell the world about your website.
Here are a few benefits of using social media after your website has gone live:
- Facebook is great for building a community around your website
- Make use of Instagram’s live stream to connect with people in real-time.
- Use LinkedIn to connect with business networks.
Be sure to make good videos and graphics and include a CTA every time you post.
Send an email to your existing database telling everyone about your new site’s launch. Tell them what’s new and what they can expect. Consider starting an email marketing campaign – the CMS we spoke about earlier will be able to help you with this.
Paid traffic is still a fantastic source of traffic, especially in the short term. If you’re just getting started with SEO, try paying for advertisements. You’re more likely to see quick results — SEO is an essential but long-term strategy.
You’ve launched a great website. Congratulate your team and remember that the launch stage is just the beginning of the journey — constantly maintaining your website will keep it in good health.
It’s now time to focus on driving traffic to your website. This can mean different things for different businesses, but designing a great inbound marketing campaign where you create quality content for your customers is always a good start.