The launch of a new website can be stressful. Over the years we've built up a pre-launch checklist to ensure it goes smoothly.
- Check, double, and triple check that any site contact forms are directing to the correct email addresses (and not still using testing email addresses). Thus speaks the voice of painful experience!
- Check that Google Analytics is installed.
- Does your website have Google Analytics configured to track contact form conversions? You'd like to know where your enquiries are coming from, right ...?
- Has the site been checked across different browsers and systems. At minimum it should be tested in current versions of all the major browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox). If possible, refer to your old website analytics to see which browsers and devices are being used with your site and tailor your testing accordingly. Unless you have a pile of old iPhones, iPads, and other devices sitting around, Browserstack is invaluable for this.
Hosting and Server
- If this is a PHP site, make sure that logging and error reporting settings are configured not to display
- Set up uptime monitoring. This will let you know by email / SMS / etc if the site goes down; so you're aware of downtime at the earliest opportunity. There's lots of services out there.
SEO and Performance
- Does the site have a sitemap.xml file? Are the paths in the sitemap file pointing to the live site and not the preview version?
- Make sure that any secondary domains are also pointed to the new live site (e.g. our main domain is function-design.co.uk, a secondary domain is function-design.biz).
- Do you have redirects set up for any pages that have not been retained for the old site, so that users arrriving on the site via Google do not see "page not found" errors.
- If you've been reviewing work-in-progress on a "preview" website, make sure that they are not available to the public.
- Check the site with Google Pagespeed Insights, Web Page Test, Screaming Frog and the W3C validator.
Data recovery and backups
- If this is a site redesign, make sure that you have a backup of the previous website version and that you are able to revert back to it at short notice in case of a critical issue with launch of the new version.
- Make sure that you have a backup and recovery plan in place for the new website; daily backups (or more) of the website should be made and these backups should be stored outside of the live web server.
- Set up a Google Analytics goal to track 404 page responses - and an alert to let you know when the number of 404 responses increases significantly on the same day the previous week. It's a simple way to make sure that you're not in the dark about the arrival of major site problems.
- Make sure that the site has appropriate file permissions (ask your developer). Wordpress instructions; Drupal instructions.
- Are you using the latest versions of all Plugins (Wordpress) and modules (Drupal)?
If you think we've left anything out - please let us know.