Launching a new website is just as daunting as it is exciting – whether it’s a personal blog or a business website, there are a lot of things you need to consider to make sure things go smoothly. Having a comprehensive website launch checklist on hand helps ensure everything is exactly as it should be before the launch and provides a solid roadmap to smooth sailing as you promote your website post-launch. Our team at Futuretheory has launched over 100 websites of all kinds for clients, and we would never dream of skipping either the pre-launch website checklist or the post-launch checklist. In this article, we’ll go over our tried and true checklist and give you some of our tips and tricks for a successful website right from day one of going live.
What Is A Website Launch Checklist And Why Is It So Important?
A website launch checklist is a structured list that includes all essential steps and checks required before, during, and after your website goes live. A website launch checklist will help ensure your website looks and functions perfectly and conveys the sense of professionalism you want it to. There’s nothing worse than visiting your website after launch and noticing glaring errors in your content or design once your website is live. Make sure to find a website launch checklist to help prevent that feeling and make sure your website runs and looks exactly as it should.
Having a website checklist in place also helps ensure your website is optimised for search engines, secure, and user-friendly from day one, ensuring its success and ability to meet your goals.
Website Pre-Launch Checklist
As your launch date approaches, there’s still quite a bit left to do, even after the website development and design itself is finalised. It might seem overwhelming, but the payoff will definitely be worth it when you have a website you can proudly stand behind! Here’s our list of pre-launch essentials:
1. Proofread Any And All Content
Proofreading all content on your website is one of the most important steps in the pre-launch checklist. The content is one of the first things users judge when interacting with your website, and any errors or unclear messaging can negatively impact your brand’s credibility and professionalism. Here’s what to look for when proofreading content on a website:
- Spelling and Grammar: Basic, yet essential. Check for any spelling or grammatical errors.
- Punctuation and Syntax: Ensure proper sentence structure and punctuation for readability.
- Clarity and Conciseness: Eliminate any ambiguous or overly complex sentences. Aim for clear and concise communication.
- Tone and Style: Check that the tone suits your target audience and is consistent throughout.
- Branding Elements: Ensure that your brand’s voice shines through and that your key messages align with your brand values.
2. Replace Any Placeholder Images
Placeholder images are great while website developers are still building the website – they give you a glimpse into what the final product will be – but they have no place on your new site after the time of launch. It seems evident, but forgetting to switch out placeholder images is a common mistake, especially if you have a large website with lots of imagery.
Make sure to find high-quality images that are relevant to your content and match your branding and design. Or, even better – take your own original photos or hire a photographer to do it. The right images can significantly enhance the overall look and feel of your website, so make sure you take the time to get it right!
3. Review Meta Descriptions
Including plenty of meta descriptions in your website’s content is important for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). They influence how your website appears in search results and serve as the first impression for potential visitors. Well-crafted meta descriptions can significantly improve your website’s click-through rate from search engines, boosting your online presence. Remember to keep meta descriptions brief and informative, use relevant keywords, and maintain consistency with your brand’s tone.
4. Do Quality Assurance Testing
Identifying and resolving technical issues is the main goal of quality assurance testing. These issues could include broken links, 404 errors or malfunctioning interactive elements. Since no developer is perfect, this step is crucial to ensure that your website launch is successful and that it has a professional and polished look. The most frustrating issues for users are often the small details like broken links, which can damage your website’s credibility.
5. Double-Check Your Website Design
Now it’s time to thoroughly review the design on each page of your website and make sure everything is cohesive – from the layout to the colour scheme and formatting of your content. A consistent layout improves ease of use and reinforces your brand identity. This means each page should follow a similar structure, making the journey through your website intuitive and seamless.
You should also double-check that the colour scheme is consistent across your website and that the formatting, including font choices and sizes, is uniform. Clear and consistent formatting across your website improves readability and keeps users engaged.
6. Cross-browser And Cross-device Testing
Compatibility and responsiveness testing is one of the most crucial steps to check before launching your website. Ensuring your site looks and functions the same across different browsers and devices means your website will be able to reach as wide an audience as possible. As of December 2023, over 55% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, so make sure not to overlook this step!
Taking the time to browse through the staging environment of your site on different devices and web browsers means you can solve any compatibility issues as soon as possible, giving your website the best start online possible and ensuring that your website provides a positive user experience (UX) no matter how your users are browsing your website.
7. Submit Your Sitemap To Google
If you’re launching a website, submitting your sitemap to Google is a crucial step in the pre-launch phase. It’s one of the most straightforward yet impactful ways to improve your SEO. A sitemap is essentially a roadmap of your website, listing all the pages and content, which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your website efficiently. Submitting your sitemap to Google means that their bots can quickly find and index your pages, increasing your likelihood of appearing in search results.
Post-launch, regularly updating and resubmitting your sitemap is important – especially when you add new pages or make significant changes. This prompts search engines to re-crawl your website and update their index.
8. Make Sure Your Website Complies With Applicable Laws and Regulations
Making your website legally compliant is essential. Start with website accessibility: ensure everyone, including people with disabilities, can use your site easily. This isn’t just good practice—it’s often required by law. Often, a few simple changes are all you need to ensure you have an accessible website that’s user-friendly for everyone.
9. Make Sure Your Website Is Secure
Making sure your site is secure is a must before. Start with an SSL certificate – it’s like a security guard for your site. It encrypts data between your website and your visitors, keeping their information safe from prying eyes. This isn’t just for websites that handle payments; it’s important for any site that collects any kind of personal data. SSL certificates also make your site look more trustworthy – you get that little padlock icon in the browser bar, which tells visitors they’re on a safe website.
Getting an SSL certificate is one of the simplest things to cross off on this checklist – most web hosting providers offer free SSL certificates.
10. Set Up A Site Backup Strategy
Making sure your web hosting provider has a solid backup strategy for your website is like getting an insurance policy for your online presence. Having regular website backups in place means you’re always prepared for the unexpected – whether it’s a technical glitch, a security breach, or just an accidental deletion. Think of it as a safety net; if something goes wrong, you can quickly restore your website to its last good state without losing your hard work. Regular backups keep your website’s downtime to a minimum and give you peace of mind.
Website Post-Launch Checklist
The post site launch checklist is something many website owners forget, but there’s still plenty of work to be done even after your website launch day to make sure every element on your website is running smoothly. This secondary checklist is all about monitoring and fine-tuning your live website to optimise performance.
1. Announcing your new website
Launching your new website is just the beginning – now it’s time to shout it from the rooftops. Spread the word through social media, email newsletters, or a press release. Don’t forget to leverage your network either – encourage friends, family, and colleagues to share your site, too. Hosting an in-person new site launch party offers you the perfect opportunity to do this and is a great way to promote your new website.
An effective launch announcement can significantly boost your initial traffic, setting the tone for your website’s future growth. It’s also a great opportunity to gather real-world feedback after publishing your website. Consider asking your audience to do a quick survey a few days after the announcement to find out what they think!
2. Test Website Performance
Testing your website and its performance is like taking your car for a regular tune-up – it ensures everything runs smoothly and efficiently. After your site goes live, it’s important to monitor how fast it loads, how it handles traffic, and if there are any hiccups affecting user experience. A fast, responsive website keeps visitors happy and engaged and improves your search engine ranking.
Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix are the best way to do this, as they give you a clear picture of where you’re doing well and what needs improvement. If you find that your website speed isn’t up to scratch, we have a list of common causes and steps you can take to improve the load time of pages on your website.
3. Check For Broken Links
After your new website launch, make sure you don’t have any broken links. Keeping an eye out for broken links on your website is like making sure all the doors and windows in your house work properly – it’s essential for your website’s function. Broken links can be a real hassle for your visitors, leading them to dead ends instead of the useful information they’re looking for.
Regularly scanning your site for any links that don’t work helps maintain its quality and user-friendliness. Google Search Console is the best tool for this is, making it easy to troubleshoot and rectify any linking issues.
4. Continuously Tweak Your SEO And Optimise Your Website
Announcing a new website launch is exciting and will often generate a lot of traffic, but it’s important to keep that momentum going after your ‘grand opening’ through continuous SEO efforts. The Google Search algorithm and prime keywords are constantly changing, meaning ongoing SEO work is crucial – what works today might not work tomorrow. Regularly updating keywords, content, and adapting to new SEO trends helps your site stay relevant and easily discoverable. SEO isn’t just about climbing to the top of search results; it’s about maintaining that position. While making your website as SEO friendly as possible before you’re ready to launch is important, it’s not enough!
5. Set Up Google Analytics And Other Website Analytics Tools
After the launch of your new website, make sure to set up tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to get a clear picture of how your site is performing. Are people visiting? What are they looking at? How long are they staying? This info is gold; it helps you understand your audience better and make informed decisions regarding your new site. Regularly checking your analytics lets you fine-tune your site and make data-driven decisions. Both of these tools are free, so there’s no excuse not to set them up!
6. Set Up A Feedback Mechanism
While analytics tools and metrics like your website ‘bounce rate’ or ‘time on site’ are great, they don’t always tell the full story. Once your website is up and running, consider setting up a mechanism to gather feedback from your website visitors. Whether it’s through a simple feedback form, a survey, or a comments section, giving users a way to express their thoughts and experiences helps you understand what’s working and what needs tweaking. This direct input from users can highlight areas for improvement that you might not have noticed otherwise.
Whichever feedback mechanism you choose, it should make providing feedback as easy and quick as possible – no one wants to fill out a long, complicated form. The easier your feedback method is to complete, the more feedback you’ll get from users!
Need A New Site For Your Business?
Even with a comprehensive launch plan in place, building a website from scratch and ensuring a smooth launch can be overwhelming. Whether you’re using a website builder like Webflow or a content management system like WordPress, there’s still a lot of expertise required to create an effective business website. Websites for businesses, large or small, are held to a much higher standard than personal websites, and users expect every detail to be perfect.
At Futuretheory, we’ve spent over 15 years honing our website creation techniques, and we make every effort to stay sharp and in line with best website practices. We’re passionate about every step of the website development and design process and the outcomes they deliver for our clients. If you’re interested in our website, design or marketing services, contact us today for an obligation-free quote. We also offer website maintenance and can host your website in a secure, fast environment.