If you’re launching a clothing line, you wouldn’t bring items out prior to running them through QC, right? And you probably wouldn’t serve a new food item at a restaurant without taste-testing it. By the same token, when you’re getting ready to launch a new website, there are things you’ll need to triple check and tests to run before going live. Here is a Vital Website Pre-launch Checklist.
In today’s grab-and-go culture, some website builders have convinced—or tried to convince—the public that you can have the perfect website instantly with just a few clicks. But if you look closely, you’ll notice that the best sites have had work, thought, and time put into them to make them worth their salt.
Here is your “Vital Website Pre-launch Checklist”.
Don’t Cut Corners Just to Launch Sooner
While building the website and writing/organizing/optimizing your content are important, they still only constitute about half the process. It is necessary to check, test, and optimize your site before launch so you can work out the bugs in advance. It may seem annoying, time-consuming, and tedious, but you’ll be glad you did. Follow these pre-launch tips to save yourself some post-launch embarrassment, frustration, and apologies.
Check your content.
There are several aspects to readability, and there are also several tools to assist you with it. Text editing programs such as Grammarly and Hemingway point out areas where you may have misspelled words or sentence fragments, helping to ensure that your content is clean as a whistle. However, there’s truly no substitute for a human being; professional editors and proofreaders can polish your content to sparkling in no time. Humans can pick up nuances that programs miss.
- Clean up errors. While you may not think editing and proofreading is completely necessary, keep in mind that spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and typos not only reduce your credibility but can also confuse the reader. Clean, well-written, easy-to-read content will attract more readers or customers to your site and keep them coming back.
- Formatting. Some other aspects to readability are length of content, spacing, font size, bullet points, and such. You may want to check out a few other sites as a reader to determine what you find easy to read and compelling. Breaking up your material into chunks with bullet points, numbers, or levels keeps the reader’s attention more easily than long, drawn-out paragraphs. Precisely why this one is ending here.
Check your SEO.
If ranking high in search engines is important to you, you’ll want to perform an SEO audit in between creating your content and launch. There are a few aspects of SEO to check that will help your site rank higher, such as:
- Social media links. Ensuring that your site includes links to all the company’s social media platforms will help give your site visibility.
- Keywords. If you have a keyword or several that you want to focus on for ranking, you will want to do some research to determine the best way to go about using that and checking for the site’s current rank. Be sure to utilize the keywords in the best way to improve ranking and visibility.
- Backlinks. Do some research to see who is linking to you, and make sure those links are beneficial for SEO and that you’re not missing any that would be.
- XML and HTML sitemaps. Give your sitemaps a periodic once-over for usability issues.
- Google Analytics. GA will help you to check for any crucial issues as well as checking your site’s traffic and audience.
There are many options for SEO tools that make these checks easier, and you can add SEO plugins as well. These will save you time and allow you to keep an eye on the SEO trends related to your keywords long term.
Check for broken links.
Broken links are something that can easily be overlooked or missed—and broken links are asking for lost customers. Unfortunately, broken links can appear at any time, whether the site is old or new, so you’ll want to check for them regularly and periodically. While it can be fairly tedious to perform this check manually, there are several tools out there that can make it quicker and easier to do on a regular basis.
For example, brokenlinkcheck.com offers a free service where you enter your website address and it checks for you—no plugins or downloads necessary. Of course, there are many apps and plugins (both free and paid versions) that you can install to track for broken links consistently.
Check your site on different browsers.
Before your site launches, you’ll want to check to ensure that it works on all the major browsers and versions of them. The top ones to check are Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, but you’ll want to have a list ready to be sure you don’t miss any.
And don’t worry, you don’t need to do all this manually either. There are several tools out there that require a relatively low subscription fee to do it for you. Save yourself some time and effort by allowing one of these tools to check quickly and efficiently to avoid a future browser issue with your site.
Check your site for mobile compatibility.
A mobile site option is a virtual necessity in today’s world. Mobile use has increased so much that if your site isn’t mobile-compatible, you’ll be left in the dust. On top of that, Google’s search engine ranks sites with mobile capability higher than those without—so if you want your site to rank, mobile responsiveness is necessary.
Google has a mobile-friendly test tool for an instant issue check that you can start with. In addition, you’ll want to check that navigation, text, and themes on your site are mobile-friendly; several other tools exist to help you with these, such as Google’s Search Console and mobile site certification.
Check your site speed.
Speed is key to user experience in today’s fast-paced, tech-driven culture. If your site takes longer than three seconds to load, you risk losing a customer for good. Tools like Pingdom and Hummingbird offer ways to optimize your site’s speed, checking for issues that can be compressed or removed to improve load time.
Keep in mind that site speed checking is important prior to launch because once your site is live, people will either return or not based on their initial experience. But the speed optimization shouldn’t stop when it is live—a continual periodic review will keep it running fast and smoothly.
Check your compatibility.
A compatibility test can help determine whether all the plugins, themes, and apps you are using are compatible with each other, preventing crashes or glitches that affect the site’s usability. Each time you install a new plugin or version, you’ll want to run the compatibility test. WordPress especially offers checking tools to evaluate compatibility, so you will want to make use of these after each new install.
Check your usability.
Usability encompasses the overall function of the site—which includes all of these elements and more that may arise. The only real way to check usability is to recruit a few users to test it—yes, human beings. If you can recruit a few people willing to test your site for you, give them a checklist of things to look for and ask for their feedback on functionality. Give them an opportunity to tell you all of their opinions in order to model an actual customer and take their advice into account.
Besides people, there are still a few usability testing tools available, such as Inspectlet or User Testing. Don’t just rely on tools for this test, though; actual test users are your best source for user testing.
Keeping these testing tools in mind and performing checks prior to launching your site will ensure that it is optimized and ready to go live—saving you time, scrambling, and headaches in the future.
If you’re looking for more in-depth information. Check out Rand Fishkin’s Moz Whiteboard Friday.
You can also see a related article on “4 Important Ways to Build a Website that Works for You“.
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