Even the most experienced marketing agencies have seen how stressful a website launch can be. Through all of the complexities of building and launching a website, plenty of little things can get overlooked. What if a form doesn’t process correctly, causing you to lose leads? What if a redirect wasn’t set up and search engines can’t find your page?

With our comprehensive checklist, there is no reason to worry about these problems. This checklist will allow you to launch your site with the peace of mind that no issues are falling through the cracks.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking your site stats is crucial throughout the launch process. You need to know how your current site is performing in terms of search engines and site visitors so that it can be monitored throughout the launch. You should monitor changes in the following:

  • Users, sessions, top pages.
  • Page rankings.
  • Domain authority.
  • Crawl errors reported in the Google Webmasters tool.
  • Inbound links & referrals.
  • Total indexed pages.

Content

From simple text to premium content, everything should be checked and double checked before going live. You don’t want your site launching with a page full of lorem ipsum, right? Make sure to check all of the following before launch:

  • Update terms and conditions.
  • Update privacy policy.
  • Copyright date includes current year.
  • The text on every page is correct.
  • Your content has proper punctuation.
  • The tone and tense you use should be consistent throughout the site.
  • Capitalization should also be consistent throughout the site.
  • Clear any misspelling or misalignments.
  • Your images should match the surrounding content.
  • Images, video and audio are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.
  • All content such as case studies, ebooks, whitepapers, etc. are stored in their proper libraries/databases and work properly.
  • Company contact details are correct throughout the site.
  • All test content is removed before the site is launched.
  • Rights to images, fonts and other content have been properly licensed and/or cited.
  • Set up print style sheet.

Design

Your website design should be perfect before launch, down to every last pixel. You should definitely have a reflexive site, and you want to make sure your new site looks amazing on every screen size. These are the other little things you should check on during pre-launch:

  • Your typography is consistent.
  • Paragraph styles are working properly (headers, lists, block quotes).
  • Website pages are compatible across different resolutions.
  • Site layout is consistent.
  • Website pages are compatible across browsers and across devices.
  • CSS/HTML is properly validated.
  • Scripts are optimized across web pages.
  • Images are optimized across web pages.
  • CSS is optimized across web pages.
  • Favicon is in place and rendering properly.

Functionality/Usability

You put tons of work into the technology on your site, so make sure it’s running smoothly and flawlessly before it goes live. It’s important to make sure that all social sharing buttons are working and that forms are functioning correctly so you can generate those leads! Here is what you should be looking for:

  • Forms are submitting data properly.
  • Thank-you message or page displays after form is submitted.
  • Instructions on all forms should be clear.
  • The user should be indicated if the information they enter is invalid.
  • Form data is being emailed to a recipient and/or stored in a company database.
  • Auto-responders are working properly (if applicable).
  • Internal links across web pages are working properly.
  • External links across web pages are working properly and open in a new tab.
  • Social media share icons are working properly.
  • Feeds are working properly (RSS, news, social media).
  • Company logo is linked to the homepage.
  • Load time for site pages is optimized.
  • 404 Redirect pages are in place (page-not-found.aspx).
  • Integrations with third-party tools, such as your CRM, e-commerce software and/or marketing platform, are running smoothly.
  • Minify for a faster site.
  • Newsletter sign-up forms function properly.
  • Test the login for member accounts.
  • User should be able to reset password or request access via email.
  • Are all automated emails sending properly.
  • Contact forms and submission requests send to the proper email addresses.
  • Test that your site is easy to navigate.
  • All navigation buttons and links send you to the correct location.
  • Test your site for broken links.
  • Text on your site should be legible and easy to read.
  • Social media icons should direct users to the proper page.
  • Scan site for cross-linking opportunities.

Search Engine Optimization

As marketers, we all know how important SEO is for lead generation. Give your new site the best opportunity possible to reach your target personas by double checking these things:

  • Upload a “Coming Soon” page.
  • Pages have unique page titles (fewer than 70 characters, includes keywords).
  • Pages have unique meta descriptions (fewer than 160 characters, includes keywords).
  • Pages have keywords (fewer than 10, all words appear in page copy).
  • Metadata is properly in place for any content in an RSS feed and any social media sharing content.
  • Spelling and grammar are correct in all metadata.
  • Alt tags have been added to every image.
  • A dynamic XML sitemap has been created.
  • The XML sitemap has been submitted to search engines.
  • Page URLs consistently reflect site information architecture.
  • 301 redirects are in place for all old URLs (redirecting old to new pages).
  • Implement a 301 redirect from the www version to the non-www version of the siterel=”nofollow” tags are in place on applicable links and pages.
  • Google Analytics is installed and functioning properly.
  • Make sure you add a note of the site launch date in your analytics account.
  • Check that Robots.txt files are in place.
  • Always use existing URLs from the old site when possible.
  • When creating new URLs be sure to optimize them with target keywords.
  • Anchor Text Includes keyword rich text.
  • H1, H2 and H3 are in place.
  • Social media icons to accounts are in place.
  • Custom 404 error page links to the homepage.
  • Check JavaScript and CSS Validation.
  • Bing Webmaster Tools Verification File Implemented.
  • Google Webmaster Tools Verification File Implemented.
  • Ensure Google Analytics -> Webmaster Tool settings are correct.
  • Fix canonical domain issues.
  • Set the preferred version of the URL in Google Webmaster Tools (www vs non-www).
  • Check for crawl errors reported in Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Ensure that your site is being indexed by major search engines.

Security/Backup

We cannot stress enough how important it is to back up everything. Losing data is totally preventable if you have your security set-up right and a backup of your site ready to go. By checking these simple items, you can be assured that you are ready for anything:

  • 24/7 monitoring scripts are installed.
  • A copy of the final website has been made for backup purposes.
  • Ongoing copies of the website are being created and stored on a regular basis.
  • Passwords and other website credentials are stored in a secure database.

Compliance

Internet law is expansive and complicated. It’s best to speak with your legal team to make sure you have all of the bases covered. We aren’t legal experts ourselves, but these are a few things you may need to know about:

  • Web pages offer accessibility for users with disabilities (WAI-ARIA).
  • Web pages announce if the website uses cookies (required in some countries).
  • Website is compliant with usage rights for purchased or borrowed code, images and fonts.
  • Terms and privacy policies are visible to website visitors.
  • Website is PCI compliant (if you’re storing and processing credit cards).

We couldn’t have possibly covered it all! Let us know what we’re missing in the comments below.