Summary (TL;DR): Before you launch your website, and to make sure that your launch is successful, you should make sure that certain things are in order. Elements like SEO, calls-to-action, the availability of a contact page, mobile-friendliness, accessibility, technical performance and other aspects should be checked, double-checked and enabled to make sure that your website launch goes as smoothly as possible.
Launching a website can be an ordeal. For a website to function properly, many little parts need to work well together. But, remembering them all and ensuring that they do work well together can be difficult. There are many things to take into consideration like web design, navigation, SEO, technical configurations, mobile responsiveness and other elements.
To help you in this endeavor, it’s prudent to have a website launch checklist to refer to. With a website launch checklist, you’ll be sure not to miss anything important to and to launch your website successfully.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
>> Optimizing SEO
>> Contact Page
>> Social Media Integration
>> Custom 404 Page
Testing & Performance
>> Data and (Google) Analytics
Whatever your website is for, there is some kind of action you would like your visitors to take, whether it is purchasing a product, signing up to your email list, donating to a cause or anything else.
Regardless of what it is, you’ll want to drive as much traffic to your website as possible and convert as many of those visitors as you can.
Before you launch your site, you’ll want to make sure you’ve taken into account all the aspects that most impact traffic and conversion.
Your first priority is getting visitors to your site. Search engine optimization (SEO) is step one of boosting traffic. People are far more likely to click on your link if it appears on the first page of results when the most relevant keywords are searched.
Technical SEO can appear daunting and convoluted. While there is an inexhaustible wealth of information and actions that you can take, there are a few steps that are simple, crucial, and have the most impact.
You’ll want to ensure that each page on your website has a unique and relevant title, meta description, and set of keywords. Not only will this lift up your search engine ranking, it will also increase your organic search visibility and click-through rate (CTR).
Keeping your URLs short, tidy and relevant is also a must if you’re really serious about optimizing your SEO. Permalinks are your friend here. To streamline this process, consider installing an SEO plugin. This is the fastest way to improve your ranking in the Google discover feed.
If your SEO strategy has been newly implemented, consider using paid ads to kickstart your visibility while you wait for the organic traffic to build up.
Now that you’ve got visitors on your site, how can you get them to take that important action? After all, having high traffic is all well and good, but it’s pointless unless this is converted into sales, donations, signups, or access to your hosted business phone system.
The calls-to-action should be clear on each page. Firstly, they should be simply and clearly worded, so that the visitor knows what will happen if they click it. The best calls-to-action use plain language and describe a specific benefit rather than just the action. ‘Help the children’ is more impactful than ‘Donate’. ‘Cure my baldness’ carries more weight than ‘Buy Now’.
Consider how talking directly to your target customer might increase your conversion rate and test any promising idea you come up with against the current best performer using A/B testing.
You’ll also want to use design to make your call-to-action stand out. Use a button with a different color. Have this button change colors when hovered over (on desktop). In some cases, you might even include an animation.
Remember that minimalism is the way to go here. The less visual clutter and the fewer options you give, the more likely it is that your visitors can focus on what’s important — that action you want them to take.
Finally, consider the overall funnel that your call-to-action is part of. Think through the whole process from beginning to end. It’s no use to finally get them to take the relevant action if somewhere along the way they get stuck.
There’s a good chance that a large number of your visitors will either want to get in touch with you directly or at least know that they could if they wanted to. Few things increase your website’s credibility more than a comprehensive contact page.
While email addresses and a phone number to receive each and every inbound call are the bare minimum, including a physical address will demonstrate your legitimacy to a degree that nothing else can match.
Social Media Integration
Hopefully, many of your visitors will want to be kept up-to-date with your developments, launches and upgrades. Being active on at least one social media platform is a vital way of building and maintaining relationships with your audience and keeping them coming to your site time and time again when they scroll through their favorite feeds.
Crucially, your website should link back to your social media pages through icons of the respective platforms you use. This is the tried and true method of looping visitor traffic into your digital ecosystem which encompasses your site as well as third-party platforms.
General tips for social media include building your presence on one relevant platform at a time, posting consistently and frequently, and being patient, especially in the initial stages of growth. Experiment with styles and content until you find something that clicks with your audience. This will pay huge dividends in the medium and long term.
Once you’ve taken care of the basic elements of your website — getting user traffic and converting it — you’ll want to think about how to make it even easier for users to get what they want from your site. Testimonial apps and plugins are a great way to get feedback from users efficiently.
User experience is as simple, and hard, as taking the perspective of your website’s visitors and making things easy for them. It can seem like an abstract process, but with some empathy, common sense, and research of trends and best practices, you should see your conversions rise as a result.
Mobile has overtaken the desktop as the preferred platform for internet browsing. Your web design strategy and user experience ought to reflect this. Google themselves have started prioritizing their indexing and ranking based on mobile-friendliness as measured by their testing tool.
Optimizing your website for mobile means thinking about the main limitation of the platform, which is space. The size of your text and elements, a simple, clear, and minimal layout, and optimizing for the lesser processing power of mobile compared to the desktop are all important to consider.
Getting around your website should be smooth, intuitive and free of frustration. After you’ve put together your website, try moving through it yourself.
Crucially, get someone who’s never seen your site to try navigating around it. Is there anything they miss? Do they get stuck somewhere? Proactive service like this will save you a lot of unsatisfied visitors.
Navigation buttons should be clear, colored, and use familiar icons and symbols. If your website includes a large volume and variety of pages and content, consider including a search bar.
Custom 404 Page
Even the best-made sites might occasionally lead users astray. The worst-case scenario is that no page loads at all when a non-existent URL is entered or clicked on. This makes your website look broken and amateurish. A custom 404 page that links visitors back to your homepage is like a gentle guiding hand that prevents them from getting lost. That kind of courtesy always goes a long way.
You can also use email alerts to be notified when a visitor enters your 404 page. It’s not difficult at all to set up with systems like WordPress email hosting. This will immediately inform you of any issues or breaks on your site, ensuring you can fix them quickly and keep user satisfaction as high as possible.
It’s easy to design your website for just you, instead of the wide range of visitors who may well end up on your site. But, considering accessibility will help as many people as possible feel welcome in your domain. This is especially true for those with disabilities.
Make sure that users can navigate your website using the keyboard alone. You can do this by making key elements selectable via the tab button. Other accessibility aspects to take into account include adding alt text to images, considering color contrast and accounting for color blindness.
Using these essential WordPress widgets will improve your accessibility without you having to stress too much about each individual feature.
Testing & Performance
After you’ve put together the best user experience you can, you’ll want to test rigorously.
You want your website to load as fast as possible. Fast loading has become the new norm in online experience and the benchmark is at less than two seconds. Any more than that and you’ll start to take significant hits to your traffic.
Finally, go through each and every button, link and funnel step by step to see if your website is actually usable. Is purchasing from your online store a pleasure or a pain? You may be surprised at how certain decisions which seemed reasonable, even optimal, fall short when you put everything together.
Now that your website is a joy to use, it’s time to optimize everything behind-the-scenes. Technical rigor is what separates the top performers and highest converters from the rest of the pack.
These are the details that the user of your website will appreciate without necessarily realizing what it is they are appreciating.
Data and (Google) Analytics
Systems like Google analytics can give you an enormous amount of data about your visitors. It will tell you where they are from, which platform they generally use (desktop or mobile), which of your pages resonate the most and which of your products perform the best.
High-quality decisions are made using high-quality information and with all the information that’s available for analytical purposes, there’s really no reason not to take advantage.
Once you’ve covered the basics, using advanced techniques like regression testing services will take you to the next level.
Having an SSL certificate will allow your website to use the HTTPS protocol which will improve its actual security and the perception of its security, increasing user trust. It will also improve the search ranking of your site.
Properly implemented website security will also help you handle email bouncebacks by reducing the chances that your site is flagged as unsafe.
Launch Sequence Initiated
After you’ve gone through each step on the comprehensive checklist, you can do a final sweep through your entire site and ensure your site is ready and that everything is in working order.
If there are no major mistakes and errors, you’re ready to start the countdown to the website launch.