Launching a website is no small feat, and it’s understandable that in all the excitement, you may miss out on details that guarantee the smooth running of your website. Some things could go wrong, like missing an important link, misspellings in your website copy, not setting site redirects, or issues with landing page designs.
It is, therefore, essential to employ care at every stage of your launch. As there are so many things to note, your best bet would be to create a launch checklist to streamline all of your processes and use an affordable WordPress hosting service to aid with the launch tasks.
What would the ultimate website launch checklist contain? Let’s find out.
The ultimate website launch checklist
Every item on this checklist is designed to ease your website launch through every stage.
Let's jump in!
1. Find hosting & domain
Finding your website host is perhaps the most important step in launching a website. The host determines the server your website will run on, which makes it publicly accessible on the internet for anyone to visit. Most hosting accounts are pre-configured to run the latest versions of software, and the issues with hosting often happen before purchase and maintenance.
While many shared and managed hosting providers maintain their systems, the user is often tasked with sustaining unmanaged hosting accounts. When sorting a host, it is important to dwell on a web server that ensures a fast connection and one that is reliable.
Building a new site often means that the site is going from one developer and webmaster to another, and it is necessary to ensure that the domain is no longer in control of the old webmaster. The domain host is the internet service that manages the domain name you choose, and they use DNS (Domain Name System) records to link your chosen domain name with email, websites, along other web services.
Domains often expire; it is necessary always to take note of the expiry date of whatever domain you choose, so you can renew a day before it expires. You chose a domain name that is short and SEO-friendly. These features ensure that your site’s name is easy to remember and find.
2. Organize contact & homepage
After deciding on your hosting service, along with a simple domain name, you then get on to integrating yourself into the site. Here, you design a contact page that allows visitors to communicate with you easily, adding credibility and improvement to how visitors to your website trust you.
Typically, contact pages contain an email address, telephone number, postal code, and social media address. In some cases, they may contain a contact form for inquiries, and a map revealing the location.
It would help if you also created a homepage where visitors learn more about the services you offer and navigate around these services seamlessly. The homepage must be structured and allow for easy interconnection with other pages. It is often the first page on your website, but this is not mandatory.
Make sure the details are nicely documented, just like if you had a website for creating invoices, so that your user would know where to look for information if they get lost. By giving them this information, you can prevent them from leaving and returning. Hence, making it a well-organised website.
A well-organized homepage allows visitors to navigate through your content at a glance easily. It is advised that your homepage should identify the main offers of your website, touching on items like
- What you do,
- Why you are different, and,
- Who you do what you do for.
An incomplete homepage tends to drive visitors away and impair your level of professionalism. One common problem with setting up website homepages is being overly ambitious. Keep it simple; your homepage should display your vision and relevant call-to-actions while being user-friendly enough to guide visitors' hearts, and hands.
3. SSL certificate activation
With the SSL certificate, you simply create a foundation of trust with your clients. SSL stands for secure socket layers, ensuring your visitors have a secure connection. Having SSL certificates validates your website's identity and allows you to use HTTPS for secure data transfers.
The SSL certificate is important most specifically for eCommerce sites but regardless of the intention of your website, you mustn't skip this process. Acquiring SSL certificates is free, and you shouldn't take it lightly, considering that not confirming them may label your website as insecure.
Many good web hosts take care of the SSL certificate, but if your chosen host does not, it is easy to set up for free. Once the SSL certificate is valid, you can easily re-route all website traffic through HTTPS, where visitors' data is secure despite the back-and-forth navigation from your site.
The first step to getting an SSL certificate is creating a certificate signing request on your server. This automatically creates a private key and public key on your server, and the CSR file that you send to the Certificate Authority contains the public key. The Certificate Authority (CA) then uses the CSR data file to create a structure that matches your private key without compromising the key.
The most crucial aspect of the SSL is that a trusted CA digitally signs it. While anyone can create a certificate, browsers have been configured to only trust certificates that come from any organization listed on their trusted CAs.
4. Setup browser compatibility
Launching a website means allowing visitors to access your website from different devices. You always want your site to look great regardless of the platform, device, or browser, and one key factor to help you perfect responsive web design and development is cross-browser compatibility.
This can be tricky because browsers support features differently, and platforms may show several elements, signs, or structures in completely separate ways. For example, an embedded button on your website will most likely look different on a Mac compared to Windows.
Cross-browser compatibility is often overlooked when launching a website, and developers are always inclined to use a single browser to create the website. This can be sufficient enough for simple sites which are not mission-critical, however, if you’re building more complex sites, your site may look different on other browsers.
5. Fix broken links
A broken link not only limits users’ access to your website but also sends visitors away. A user cannot find or access broken links, and multiple factors could cause them.
Broken links are also known as dead links or link rots. Example of error codes for broken links include;
- 404 Page not found – which means the resource does not exist on the server
- 404 bad requests – which means the host server does not understand the URL on the page
- Bad Host – means an invalid hostname
- Other include: Bad URL, Bad Code, Empty, Timeout, and Reset.
When Google and other search engines crawl your page, they check through every link to see where it directs to, the validity of the links, and how it is structured. Broken links on your site can report that your website is unfinished or untrustworthy, damaging your rankings.
Whenever broken links and error messages constantly greet a user, they are discouraged from staying long on your website and influence how search engines rank your website amongst others. Fixing broken links will ensure that your site is worthy of getting visitors, and ranks well in search engines.
6. Setup analytics tool
Most definitely, you want to know who visits your site, how many there are, and various questions that could influence your site’s user engagements. Setting up analytics will always allow you to evaluate your site and continually improve it over time because you will know, at different levels, what works and what doesn't work.
With website analytics, you can get insights into website traffic, demographic data, behavior, and much more. For example, looking at your website’s bounce rate can tell you if it is too high. There are a lot of analytics platforms to choose from, but Google Analytics is the most convenient because it is free, and analyzes a lot of data for you.
7. Setup backup solution
Nothing lasts forever, and if you do not install a backup solution for your website, you might lose a lot or all of your work.
In the event that a catastrophe like accidental deletes or server failure occurs, backups are readily available so you do not lose your work. Creating a proper backup is simple, and could be done manually, or automatically by setting up a working solution.
A working backup solution will prevent data loss and protect against malware and other damage by properly setting up site security and regular backups. When you create a backup schedule and identify a backup location, you can launch your website easily.
8. Integrate SEO
SEO-integrated websites are easily found and accessed on search engines because they have been optimized with ranking factors.
Utilizing a proper search engine optimization technique like unique page titles, and unique meta descriptions always amplifies your launch and assists in generating the buzz you need for your website. Before your website launches, you should run a technical SEO audit to spot errors. The amendments will make your site easy to crawl and search engines can index all of your relevant pages.
When scanning for SEO components, you should ensure that all meta titles and descriptions are unique to each page with specific purposes tied to relevant keywords. Also, double-check that all URLs reflect your site architecture and are search engine friendly. This way, you can keep the URLs simple and descriptive of each page.
Additionally, while writing content using the chosen keywords It is critical to include content moderation in your content marketing plan; this will help to ensure that the content published on the site is not illegal, unsuitable, harassing, or hurtful to others.
Furthermore, you must ensure that there are no duplicate content issues, meaning each web page must be unique, and your site’s health must be positively preserved. Ensure there are no broken links, and the loading speed is quick enough.
Some tools ensure that search engines can properly crawl your site, giving it a fair shot at appearing in search results. Your site’s visibility is dependent on how well-integrated your SEO strategy is.
A permalink is described as an alternative name for the URL of an individual blog post or webpage. Simply put, it is what you write on a web browser address bar if you want to visit a particular article. The permalink is a web address that is configured to remain the same, which is usually readable and easy to understand, for search engines, and the target audience.
Permalinks that are not put together correctly will not work and can lead to a high bounce rate, and cause broken links. A glance at the permalink can show what type of content you’re dealing with; however, this URL doesn’t tell you a lot. Not only is a good URL structure more memorable, but it also allows visitors to get a lot more information.
Ideally, adopting a permalink structure that works for your needs is important. That way, you won’t have to switch down the road once you’ve already published a broad library of content.
10. Enhance user experience (navigation, design, theme)
User experience has a technical code known as UX, and by definition, it is an individual’s overall experience with a website. It covers all aspects that involve how visitors navigate a website, what attracts and retains them.
Color codes, themes, and navigation styles tend to enhance and inform user experience including everything users see, and hear, as well as their emotional reactions. Numerous distinct factors influence user experience; however, the major ones are usability, usefulness, credibility, desirability, accessibility, and value.
For web design, user experience best practices focus on making a website easy to use and appealing to visitors. UX design is very important because numerous visitors tend to leave sites whenever they do not like the layout, and it significantly influences conversion rates.
A website’s look, functions, and style all act to affect how a website is interesting to a visitor. Studies estimate that over 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a website, and the best practice recommends focusing on catching a user’s attention in 59 seconds or less.
If you are building your website with WordPress, there are lots of free WordPress themes with intuitive layouts from different WordPress Themes creators you can choose from.
Launching your website: Conclusion
To successfully launch a website, you must tick all the necessary boxes. While keeping track of all the essential tasks can be daunting.
With our ultimate website launch checklist, you can be sure that you are on the right path.