10 Things to Check Before You Even Think About Launching Your Website in 2021
So you’ve developed a website, or a client has paid you to create one, and you’re about ready to launch it and show off all your hard work, huh?
You have to admit websites have gotten way easier to develop in the past few years, but are you sure that hasn’t made you let your guard down?
Why is A Website Launch Checklist Essential?
Launching a website is exciting and thrilling. But it is also one of the most stressful times. The chances are high that you might miss some basic settings that would cause big trouble in the long run amidst the chaos.
When it comes to websites, it’s easy to miss a lot of the little things. Minor errors or bugs that you overlooked during the testing phase can come out in a big way once you’ve launched your website.
So how do you circumvent this? Simple, with a cheat sheet.
We don’t mean literally cheating but instead having a physical list of things you should run through before launching your website. You can tick off the boxes and ensure that your website is ready to hit the road!
10 Things to Check Before You Launch Your Website in 2021
We are here to provide a list of 10 things you need to look through before the launch date hits. Let’s begin!
- Integrate Google Applications or any Analytics Solution
- Prepare Custom 404s
- Speed Test Your Website to Ensure it isn’t Slow
- Spend Time to SEO
- Be Compatible and Responsive; You have to Adapt!
- Have a Robots.txt file Ready; Double-check your XML Sitemap
- Make sure you have all the legal work done; terms of service, GDPR, and cookies…
- Keep Your Anti-Spam Tools Ready!
- Enable HTTPS traffic
- Have a Backup Solution Ready to go!
1. Integrate Google Applications or any Analytics Solution
Both of them are pieces of software developed by Google to help you track traffic on your website and keep an eye on your SEO, and you should connect your site to both of them if you want to stay on top of everything once you’ve launched your site.
These Google applications will tell you where your Bounce Rate is highest, what pages users aren’t visiting, what kind of traffic you’re getting, etc.
Information like that is critical when running a website, and these solutions are all free or are freemiums which means you have no excuse not to use them.
2. Prepare Custom 404s:
Your site is new, so it’s not going to be surprising for users to end up encountering 404s. But even if they end up in front of a broken page, you can salvage the moment by creating custom 404s.
Creating a good, custom 404 that will help retain users mean making one that utilizes:
- A simple yet aesthetically pleasing design
- A few lines explaining the situation in a well-sized, readable font
- A search bar that allows them to navigate back or onwards to other parts of the site
- A way to contact you or a link to your “Contact Us” page
This is the bare minimum you need to do if you want to have a good Error 404 page with a high retention rate.
If you leave it with the default pop-up instead and make no changes, the chances are that any users that stumble on it are just going to be disappointed and end up leaving altogether.
3. Speed Test Your Website to Ensure it isn’t Slow:
The first thing you should be checking on your site is the speed since no matter what else you fix if your site isn’t fast, no one will want to visit it. Always remember, “Slower site speed equals higher bounce rate.”
You can always use Pagespeed Insights to test your site in case it is slow. Not only will it give your website a rating based on Google’s database of well-performing websites, but it’ll even give you recommendations about the things you could change and optimize to increase your site’s speed.
4. Spend Time to SEO:
Before launching your website, you must make sure you’ve optimized it for search engines. If not, then your site will have a hard time showing up on anyone’s search pages.
Essential things you should do to optimize your site for search engines like Google are;
- Make sure each page has a specific meta-title and meta-description, following the keyword pattern of the content on the page.
- Double-check that none of your content or pages have been duplicated by accident. Each page should be unique.
- Run your site through a broken-link checker at least once and make sure your pages have used the right keywords but not so many that they seemed crammed in.
5. Be Compatible and Responsive; You have to Adapt!
Many developers often make the mistake of overlooking accessibility until after they launch their sites. It is vital that regardless of your site’s content or motives, it is accessible from anywhere. That means both; different browsers and different devices.
Before launching your website, you need to make sure that you have tested it on all major browsers, including but not limited to Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, etc. Test them multiple times to ensure they aren’t too slow, don’t have any unforeseen bugs, and are generally healthy.
Device Compatibility and Responsiveness:
Well, many developers have now gotten the memo that websites can not just be on desktops anymore. They need to be just as well optimized over devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Before launching your site, make sure that the versions of your websites on those devices are healthy as well.
More people use mobile phones than desktops to scour the internet now anyway, and you don’t want to miss out on that traffic.
6. Have a Robots.txt file Ready; Double-check your XML Sitemap:
Search Engines tend to send bots to crawl your website to understand its structure better; Google especially does this.
An XML Sitemap provides search engines with all the URLs on your website it should index, meaning that it won’t miss those pages when considering what to show a user in their search results.
A Robots.txt file allows you to communicate with the search engine bots directly, telling them where they should and shouldn’t go.
Having both of those ready for search engines to use boosts your site’s crawl ability through the roof, meaning not only do search engines like you more but also have all of your site’s resources at the ready-to-show users.
7. Make sure you have all the legal work done; terms of service, GDPR, and cookies…
When it comes to the internet, legality is often flexible and confusing. Each industry has its own set of rules and laws that need to be complied with, so to be safe, it’s best if you cover all your bases;
- Add a “terms of service” page if your site is made for e-commerce; this will outline your services and your privacy policies in detail for the user.
- Ensure you have all the proper licenses for any codes, integrations, images, generally any resources you may have used to build the site.
- Notify your user if you are using cookies.
- Make sure your website is GDPR compliant as specified by the EU’s new user privacy laws.
There are other laws besides these you may also have to abide by depending on your industry; ask your lawyer for help in this task.
8. Keep Your Anti-Spam Tools Ready!
Spam and spambots are something you live with when your work is mainly online, and it’s very annoying and can be detrimental, but we also use anti-spam tools to protect ourselves from them. Double and triple-check to ensure that your site is secured against spam, or you will regret it later.
Make sure you have reCAPTCHA V3 integrated into your site and Honeypot or V2 integrated into your forms and such.
The former will keep an eye on users who could be spambots on your site, whereas the latter will directly stop them from filling your site with spam.
If anti-spam hasn’t been added to your site yet, it is not ready to go live.
9. Enable HTTPS traffic
This is one of the more complex ones but bear with us. HTTPS allows you to transfer your data to users securely. Almost every website uses HTTPS, especially e-commerce sites, to make users feel safe and protect themselves.
To acquire HTTPS, you have to acquire an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. You can either do this yourself or have the hosting service you’re using set it up for you.
Once you have an SSL certificate, you can re-route your traffic through HTTPS, securing data flow back and forth between the site and the users.
Plus, if users see pop-ups informing them that your site isn’t secured with HTTPS (and they will), then they may feel unsafe and decide to take their business elsewhere.
10. Have a Backup Solution Ready to go!
If you don’t have a backup of your website and its information from the get-go, you need to stop everything you are doing and get that done first. Backing up your site is the most important task on this list, no competition.
This is because disaster could strike at any moment and at any time. Once your site goes live, it will immediately start collecting information. You need to be ready to back up that information and have a contingency plan if it suddenly goes down.
Have physical and cloud-based methods ready for your site, and if you are employing your IT from an external source, question them about being able to have backups through both ways You know what they say, better safe than sorry!
And, You are Done!
Congratulations! You’ve managed to launch your website with the peace of mind that you have covered all your bases!
Remember, always check, then double-check, then triple-check. It’s impossible to be too cautious when it comes to these things.
All in all, we wish you good luck and hope that your users or clients have no qualms about the end product.