Before you launch your website, you want your new website to look and work perfectly. You really want to give your visitors the best experience and want them to return too. Never a second chance for a first impression…
To make sure you covered all the bases, I have created a shortlist of important things you need to check. Not only before you go live, but also on a regular basis. This list should be part of your maintenance plan. This is how you make the best of your online presence!
Part 1: Technics
- Backup: Make sure you backup your website frequently. You can automate the backup with a plugin, and make a backup every day and have it stored in Dropbox. You can synchronize it with your desktop and have a fresh backup every day. Check the procedure regularly to make sure it still runs as planned.
- Security: WordPress is a secure platform. It is also very popular and this is why bad guys like it too. Use a good plugin to protect your website. There are many good plugins to protect your website, free as well as paid.
- Robots.txt: The robots.txt file tells the crawler bots how to crawl your website. It makes it easier for them to index your website. You can make and upload it yourself (many examples available) or have a plugin do it for you.
- Sitemap: Always add a sitemap to your website before you go live. Google, but also Bing and other search engines, use the sitemap to index your website. The sitemap provides them with the url’s to all the content you want to have indexed. Use a plugin to have the sitemap made for you. Add your website to Google Search Console and add your sitemap to it.
- Spam Protection: Use a plugin to protect your website from spam on comments and forms. Some security plugins have spam protection built in.
- Analytics Code: You can use a plugin to install the Google Analytics tracking code. Many themes offer the option to paste the code into the theme. You can also add the code manually to your theme files.
- Search Engine Settings: In most cases, you do want the search engines to index your website. This setting is often forgotten, but important. Although most search engines decide for themselves…
- Performance: A lot has been written about performance. Like how it starts with good web hosting. Be sure that the performance is good and consistent. Not for Google, but for the user experience!
Part 2: Design
- Check The Design: Does it show correctly on all the major browsers? Always check a theme for cross browser compatibility before you start using it. Does it look good on all devices? The content of your website should be accessible to all your readers.
- Images: The images you have added on the website should be visible for your readers. If you are getting any broken image links then you should fix them before publishing your blog posts.
- Navigation menu: Make sure that the primary navigation menu of your website is visible on all pages. Check the navigation menu by opening your website in different browsers. It is possible that it won’t appear in some browsers.
Part 3: Functionality
- Contact Form: Test the contact form you’ve created. Fill in all fields and send it. Does it give the “successfully sent” message? Does it redirect to the right page if it has to? Do you receive the email, and on the right email address?
- Social: Check the social connections. All the social buttons should be connected to your social networking websites. Test all sharing buttons to make sure the message is sent to social media. Make sure all metadata are present.
- Autoresponders: If you are using any autoresponder on your website, check it.
- RSS Feeds: You can create the feeds using the Feedburner. Make sure the feed is working properly.
- General: Whether you just have a contact form, or a huge webshop, always check the functionality visitors have to use. Does the email get sent, does the checkout procedure work well, can images be opened in Lightbox? Whatever functionality you offer your visitors, always be sure it works.
Part 4: Content
- About Us Page: Write a “About Me” page that really tells your visitors something. Visitors should feel convinced they are in the right place.
- 404 Errors: If your website is showing the 404 error, it means posts or pages can’t be found. Check the permalinks and re-save them. Check the existence of the posts and pages. Check if the sitemap is up to date. A custom 404 page can be very helpful to keep the visitor on your website, even though they haven’t found what they were looking for!
- Redirects: Sometimes you have to delete content. For example duplicate content or old posts. You can redirect the urls to whatever you want. Use the right redirect and make sure they still work after a while.
- Spelling Mistakes: The best way to kill killer content is by making too many errors in style and spelling. Always reread your posts and pages before publishing them. Let somebody else read what you have written. You can use online tools like Grammerly to check your content.
- SEO: Make yourself comfortable with the basic SEO rules. They can be found anywhere on the internet. On top of that: be yourself, use your own words and rely on your expertise.
Launching a new website can be very exciting. It also means a lot of work, and you have to take care of many things. Using a checklist to cover all the aspects of building, launching and maintaining a website can make your life a lot easier. This shortlist can be used as a starting point for making a comprehensive checklist, like the one you can find here.
I hope this shortlist is useful to you. Do you have items that you think should be on this list? Please let me know in the comments section below!