Whether you’re creating a brand new website or your current one is getting a facelift, you can use the tips below to ensure your site launch is as smooth and error-free as possible.
Look for broken links and missing images. There’s nothing worse than launching a brand new website only to come across a broken link. There are plenty of tools you can use to check for broken links across your entire site — my favorite is Screaming Frog.
It’s a good idea to run link and image reports prior to launching a website, but you should also run these as soon as your website is live. Your pre-launch scan will show you where links or images are missing or broken. Your post-launch scan can help you identify any links that may still be pointing to a page or image in your development environment. Often websites are built in a development or “dev” environment before the site is moved to a production or live environment. So if you created links using a dev URL of www.dev-example.com and the live URL becomes www.example.com, there’s a chance some of these links may still be pointing to the dev URL once the site goes live. Tools like Screaming Frog allow you to quickly scan for instances of “dev” in your URLs so you can correct this potential issue.
How does your website look across multiple devices and browsers? At Launch, we ensure our websites look great and are optimized for the most popular browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. We also make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices, including Android phones, iPhones, iPads, and a variety of others. It is ideal to review our clients’ websites in native environments — on an actual iPhone or an actual computer with Internet Explorer 8, for example — however, there are also a variety of web-based tools you can use to simulate browsers and devices you may not have access to. One of my favorites is BrowserStack.
Don’t forget to refer back to the approved design mockup for your site. It’s not ideal, but sometimes during the development process new ideas arise, some aspects of the site can be omitted, etc. It’s important for both the client and the website development and quality control team to refer back to the original mockup prior to launching a website to ensure nothing is overlooked.
Typos are a huge pet peeve of mine, but second to typos is bad user experience. A pretty website is great, but a user-friendly, fully functional website is absolutely essential. If you’re launching an e-commerce website, the shopping cart better work. If your new website allows users to create an account and “save” recipes to their recipe box, that better work too!
Ask members of your team or friends and family to navigate through your website and accomplish certain tasks to ensure your site delivers the best user experience possible.
Search Engine Optimization
Is your website optimized for search engines? Does each webpage have a unique and optimized title tag and meta description? Do you have a sitemap to submit, and is your robots.txt file set up? Another checklist item is to make sure there are no settings in the back end of your website that discourage it from being found in the search engines once it’s live. Obviously that setting can be turned on while your website is in development, but be sure it’s turned off once you go live, and make sure to submit your new sitemap right away.
Ready to Launch
Once you launch your website, you can take a moment to pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but that’s not the end of your site — it’s just the beginning! A website is a living, breathing thing (well, almost), and it requires continuous tracking, testing, and maintenance. You should install Google Analytics and set up goals to measure the objectives you have outlined for your website. Google Analytics can give you valuable data about your traffic, visitors, and content, but it will also tell you how your website is performing in line with your goals.
For instance, how many people completed your “Find a Doctor” form this month? How many people stayed on your website for longer than 3 minutes? How many visited 8 or more pages? How many played your latest promo video?
In closing, remember that your website is an extension of your brand and your business. A bad user experience on the website — a glaring typo or a slow loading page — could be the one deciding factor that causes a potential customer to leave and move on to the site of one of your competitors.