Wow, you’ve done it! You’re website is finished (or you’re getting there). You’ve been working on it for weeks or months, but don’t hit that publish button just yet.
We know you’re anxious to share your website with the world, but you owe it to yourself to ensure everything is in perfect order.
Your roadmap to perfection.
Having your own website is both exciting and daunting. Web design is made up of a lot of little things and it all comes down to the details and making sure you don’t miss anything.
As professional web designers, we use a master checklist for every website we work on — most professionals do. This checklist is suited for those just starting their website and for those about to launch. Use this checklist to prepare your website for a smooth and stress-free launch. It includes everything we’ve come across over the years of web projects and lessons we’ve learned.
Get inspired by knowing you can shout “Houston we have lift-off!” when you’re done.
1. Domain Name
A domain name identifies your website and provides you with a link to find your website on the world wide web. Make sure your domain is identifiable and memorable. For example google.com is a domain name.
2. Purchase Website Hosting
Simply put, hosting is a service that allows your website to “live” on the internet. It’s important and you need to have it to launch a website.
3. A Logo
A logo is your identity, the face of your business, and the value of it should not be underestimated. Do you think power brands like Apple or Starbucks are not going to put their logo on… well everything! So don’t forget to upload your logo — usually at the top of every page.
You should also upload a retina-display version.
Design aesthetics, brand elements, typography and your message needs to be consistent throughout. A brand experience can be one-of-a-kind and powerful or it can be confusing and undesirable. Which do you think your customers want? Plus, branding leads to recognition and trust.
Check your layouts, formatting, colors, margins, padding and everything in between. Ensure everything matches the website’s design style. When users navigate to different pages, does it have a cohesive flow?
6. Website Copy
Correct hyphenation, punctuation and symbols are used.
Tense/Style of writing is correct.
Take a look at the treatment of bulleted lists (e.g. periods or commas at the end of each item).
Your copy has been proofread. There’s nothing less credible than glaring spelling errors. Even if you’ve already read it, read it again; and get at least a few other people to read it too.
Show off your personality or brand’s personality in your copy. Don’t be like everyone else!
7. Proper Styles
All headings and copy should be properly styled. Build hierarchy with your copy (e.g. headings should be larger than paragraphs).
These are buttons prompting the user to take a desired action. (e.g. Buy now Or Get in touch)
You can’t afford to ignore these!
9. Beautiful Photos
Beautiful and crisp photos build credibility (and makes it come alive!). Blurry photos are just ugly.
All images should have alt tags.
Do not steal other people’s (or Google’s) photos. Purchase stock photos or use royalty-free photos!
Keywords are used in titles and copy. (Watch out for keyword stuffing!)
Each page should have a unique title and be related to the content on the page.
Meta descriptions are filled out and includes keywords.
Use internal linking.
Google’s Keyword Research Tool can help. Keep in mind your target audience and keyword difficulty. As a general rule of thumb, start with a low volume keyword.
If you’re using WordPress, try the Yoast SEO plugin.
11. Contact Information
It is crucial to have contact information displayed on your website. The footer is a common area to place such information.
If you rely heavily on phone calls from your website, also consider adding your phone number in several other places, such as in the header.
A contact page is a great idea – it adds credibility and easily allows customers to get in touch!
12. Contact Form
Double check all forms are working properly. Does the completed form get sent to the right email? Are they landing in the right person’s inbox.
Is the flow of the form easy for the user to follow and fill out?
13. Clear and Easy Navigation
Users should never be unsure of what to do (or click) next.
No page should be more than 3 clicks away — maximum.
Follow the “7 by 7 Rule” which recommends 7 menu links across and 7 links down.
Add client testimonials to build credibility and trust.
Testimonials are like referrals, they convince people they can rely on your business. People tend to trust other customers rather than businesses, so testimonials and reviews work wonders!
“72% of consumers say positive testimonials make them trust a business more.” (source:BrightLocal)
15. Legal Pages
16. Site Security
Take security seriously from the very beginning to eliminate headaches down the road.
Take action to block spammers, malicious bots, viruses, and hackers. WordPress and hosting provides several security options.
Make your site secure and trustworthy for your users with an SSL Certificate.
18. Responsive Design
All viewers should have an optimal viewing experience whether they’re on a desktop, tablet, or a mobile device. Everything stays easy-to-read and no pinching or resizing is needed.
Responsinator is a great tool to check your site on different resolutions.
Afterwards, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to test your design.
19. Social Media
Social media Icons (and/or feeds) are in place and linked correctly.
20. Permalinks (Page Links)
Use permalinks that describe the content of each page.
Make them easy to remember and user- and seo-friendly.
22. Back Ups
Have back-ups in place so you never lose your files!
23. Optimize Web Performance
Optimizing your website should be done before and after launch as web performance is crucial for the user experience.
A fast loading web page trumps a slow website — every time. Both web users and search engines understand that.
Don’t forget to optimize your images. Large image sizes will take longer to load and decrease page speed. If you’re using WordPress, plugins like EWWW Image Optimizer or Smush optimize your photos for you.
53% of the users are likely to leave a mobile site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load? (Source: Google page load time study)
Caching is one of the most beneficial processes for websites. It temporarily stores copies (or a “screenshot”) of your website files so it can be loaded faster for users. It speeds up your website without sacrificing anything. If you don’t have a mind for tech, you may not understand what caching is or how it works, but just know you need it!
25. Get ready for 404s
A user may land on a page that doesn’t exist (Page not Found), so your 404 page is displayed. Get your users back on track with a helpful 404 page directing them back to the home page or other useful pages.
26. Cross-Browser Compatibility
Take a look at your website in multiple major browsers and fix anything problems. The website could look pixel perfect in Chrome, but not so perfect in IE.
Fonts, colors, and photos can look different on different browsers — check it all.
Use Browsershots to capture screenshots of your web pages in different browsers to review.
27. No Empty, Broken or Missing Pages/Links
Scour your website for any broken links and correct them.
29. Google Analytics
Set up Google Analytics to track your visitors. You’ll see stats on the number of visitors your receive, their location, how long they stay on your website and what pages they click on.
Be sure to exclude your home and office IP addresses. (It’s easy to find, simply type “what is my IP” into Google.)
All sites should have a favicon, but it’s frequently forgotten. A favicon is the little icon that appears to the left of the page title in the web browser/tab. A favicon helps users navigate to your site when they have multiple tabs open or in their bookmarks. It’s easy to add, so do it!
31. Newsletter Subscribe Form
32. Live Chat
Enable a live chat if you’d like to provide instant help to users while they’re on your website.
33. Site Search
Enable a search bar so users can search for items on your website with keywords. (e.g. particularly useful for blogs and shops)
34. E-commerce Capabilities
Do a test run of each step a buyer would go through — adding an item to the cart, sign ups, downloads, links, payment pages, and success page redirects.
35. Include a RSS Link for Blogs
36. Create a Sitemap File
37. Submit your Website to Google
Once your website is completed, you’ll likely want to submit your website to the largest search engine in the world, Google. Decrease the wait time for your website to be indexed by Google and submit your website right away.
Doing this is incredibly easy, simply Search ‘Submit URL to Google’ and an input box will appear. Add your website’s URL and hit submit!
38. Add A Cookie Warning
In many jurisdictions, cookie warnings are a legal requirement, so you better have one!
39. Pick a Launch Date
When selecting a launch date give yourself enough time. Don’t rush just to get it done. A couple of months to design and build a website is not totally insane!
Need a copy of this checklist for your website? Download it now and share with your team members.
And yes, keep coming back for more… we’ll keep updating this post as needed! 🙂
This website launch checklist is… well comprehensive. You may be thinking “there’s no way I can get all this done.” Don’t feel that way! Take each task one at a time and hire a professional if you need to.
Have any other tips you’ve found helpful? Let us know about them in the comments below!