Launching (or relaunching) a website requires careful planning and focused execution, regardless of the software being used to power that digital presence or the industry/sector the business is competing within.
Don't leave your website's success to chance: below are several things to remember and important considerations to make before going live with your website.
Keep in mind that the following website checklist (listed below) is general in nature - it's not a website checklist for SEO or a website checklist for
usability specifically. It is, however, a good checklist for those new to building a website or those relaunching an existing site (learn more about
Chicago Digital's process for building websites).
- Content Review: One of the last tasks on any pre-launch website checklist is often a review of the content. In reality, it should
be one of the first because of its' importance to the experience of users. Take the time to read through all content including pages that discuss
or promote individual products or services and the company in general, and check for grammatical and spelling errors to ensure a high level of
readability (not too complex). Keep in mind that search engines value content that is descriptive and thorough so tap into your inner wordsmith
during this phase of the website checklist.
- Browser Preview: No two consumers are exactly alike (they might be similar but not exact). That means that the way they access
the Internet will vary. Some users will visit your website from their recently purchased smartphone while others will do so from an aging computing
using an outdated browser. Before launching, it is important to check the website in all the major browsers including Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari
and on various mobile phone and tablet sizes to ensure that there is consistency in design and that all visual assets are rendering as they were
- Functionality Check: While this is more of a general checklist for website launches, there are website development checklists that you may want to consider reviewing if there is functionality on your website that is database-driven. Regardless of your own level
of digital sophistication however, it is more that key stakeholder check that that forms are submitting data correctly (sending to the right end
point and with the right message), that all interactive features (like accordian menus or buttons that change during mouse-over for example) are
performing as they were designed.
- On-Site Optimization (SEO): Most new to the wonderful world of website design are not experience in the art and science of
search engine optimization and a a result do not make the required modifications to their site before launch to ensure an optimized presence
of the search engines. While contracting a qualified SEO team is always a wise investment, engaging in even the most basic level of on-site
optimizaiton can make a world of difference, so make sure that your website checklist has tasks that ensure every page has a unique page
title (fewer than 70 characeters) and description (156 characters) and that pages have between 5 and 10 keywords in the page copy.
- Solicit Audience Feedback: The biggest mistake that websites make during a launch or relaunch is going live without soliciting
feedback from those most important - the consumer or audience. Ideally others within the orgnization will have had some input on the design (as
early on as the planning stage) but do consider reaching out to a small (but distinguished) group of regular users or clients and request feedback
on various elements of the design (from functionality to readability). Make sure to emphasize that the review is only a beta test (and not a final
or finished product) and that their changes may influence the final version of the product.
- Tracking and Analytics: No website checklist would be complete without at least some mention of analytics. Whether your design
or development team is using a tag management system or implementing code manually, ensuring that tracking (e.g. remarketing pixels) and other analytics codes are in place and functioning properly is essential in understanding just how well the new website and its digital
marketing are performing. This includes the ability to measure performance on a macro (pageviews, session length) and micro level (form submissions,
click paths, etc.)
- Security: Today's software systems are essential components of the digital experience but with increased sophistication often
comes concerns about security (data breaches and security in general). Ensuring not only that the software being used as the backend is up to date
and the latest version (as well as any plugins or modules that are being used) and that SSL certificates are up to date and not missing any information
is critical. Make security a high priority item on your website checklist.
- Final Speed Check: The speed of the digital experience should be top of mind throughout the website development process. It's
not just another line item on a website checklist though. Speed is increasingly a significant factor in how well search engines like Google rank
a website and can impact (positively or negatively) how well the site converts prospective users. There are hundreds of services on the Web including
Pingdom and even Google's own Page Speed Insight which can provide insights into site speed and what may be slowing your website experience down.
- Go Live with Support: While the website you are about to launch may feature the latest and greatest features, and may be a dramatic
improvement from previous versions, there will still likelybe questions from existing users about where a particular resource was or how to perform
some function on the new website. When the time comes to "go live," make sure that support staff are ready, that they are informed about the functinality
of the new site, and convey that your team is available and by through live chat, email and phone to provide support.
Launching a website is exciting but it is important not to overlook any important steps as your business goes live with its new digital presence. If the whole process of launching a new or redesigned website seems daunting or overwhelming, turn to an experienced agency and contact Chicago Digital to start a new project today.