When you create a website the process can be somewhat lengthy. Therefor, it's really important to have a checklist of things you should do before you launch your WordPress website. You want to make sure, ahead of time, to check everything off before your site goes live. Trust me, it will save you a lot of time and headache in the long run. Because the whole thought process of "let's wait until after the site goes live to fix any issues" can be a downright nightmare.
It's better to work on it now, so you can get all of the kinks out of the way. That's why today I'm going to discuss 10 things you need to do before you launch your WordPress site. If you need tips on how to create a killer WordPress site head over to part one and two. Naturally I'm going to cover a few important things beforehand. So let's get started...
Quality Assurance: It’s Not Just for You
You can't afford to ignore the importance of quality assurance. These simple checks during the development process can occur before, during and after. Here's why it's a really excellent idea:
- No Surprises. There may be glitches, broken links or compatibility issues that you might not be aware of. When you take time to test the website in full, you'll have a chance to catch them before your site goes live.
- No Reworks. A proper checklist will save you the run-around down the road. A solid checklist gives you tangible goals that force you to complete the full site build.
- Future-Proof. Plugin, theme and version update reminders help ensure the your website stays in perfect shape. This is great for you as the site owner and the user's experience.
Think of it this way, your website needs to make the best first impression. That's why it's important to prepare for anything and everything that might happen. Alright, let's dive in to the checklist...
10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU LAUNCH YOUR WORDPRESS SITE
Check #1: Make a List of What You Want Your Site To Have
You might not know it now, but there is a lot of work that goes into the development of a website. Therefore you shouldn't leave anything up to chance. If you're expecting certain functionalities, a certain number of pages, or anything else, you need to add it to the checklist. Once your website is built, you can go through each item to verify that each page has been created.
Check #2: Pay Attention To Notes
When you create your website, you'll most likely take down notes or changes that you come across along the way. It's easy to forget, so before you get too far, make sure you review your notes to make sure everything gets done. You don't want to have to go back and re-do something after the fact.
Check # 3: Review Every Page
The key here is to look at your website as a visitor. Are all the likely pages there? Do the visuals make sense? Is it readable? How is the functionality? Make sure to check every single page and look for the following:
- Navigation bar
- Header/footer strips
- Contact info
- Social media
This may be one of the most tedious thing on the checklist, but it is downright essential. You don't want anyone's experience to be disrupted by a broken link. Especially if you can prevent it.
Check #4: Proofread the Content
Website content is by far the most important piece of the website. Especially if a visitor happens to stumble across a random typo or dummy text accidentally left in. As a result it could turn into a negative experience for them. So you thoroughly need to make sure that you've read and re-read all of the content. Luckily you can do this easily. Simply check each page in WordPress and make sure there are no misspellings or grammar issues caught by the spellcheck tool. The JetPack plugin has this feature - if you don’t already have it.
Then make sure that the text in the sidebars, widgets, testimonial sliders, forms, etc —is also correct. Be sure that these don't contain any placeholder text (dummy text).
Check # 4: Test Social Media Sync-Ups
Social media is a huge part of everyone's online identity, both personally and professionally. That's where there needs to be a continual loop between one's social media identities and one's website. This could be in the form of live feeds, links or even automatic blog post promotions.
While you may have already tested to make sure that the links work, it's time to check the other functionalities. However, you will need to do this manually. If social media is set to promote new blog posts, you need to publish a test post on the site to see if the message actually goes up. If there are any social feeds, check to make sure that new tweets are showing up. If you have not integrated social media into your website, you need to. Check out this article on the why and how: Ways to Add Social Media to Your Web Design
Check # 5: Make Sure the Website Is SEO Ready
You need to make sure that your site is properly optimized. That means that pages, images and content for search and sharing are optimized too. WordPress does have a default SEO tool, but it isn't as "smart" or comprehensive as many WordPress users would like it to be.
Your website needs to correctly speak to the search engines. So make sure that you have everything set up the right way. The SmartCrawl plugin will help take the guesswork out of your website’s SEO and ensure that you have page titles, meta descriptions, focus keywords, and alt tags applied to every single page and image that you want found. As a bonus, it can also create a site map for you and send updates to search engines when it changes.
In order to get your website noticed on social and help users find relevant content, each page and blog post will need a featured image, keywords, and categories assigned to it. Luckily, you can check each of these within WordPress.
Check #6: Confirm All Site Processes Work Properly
If you have a form on your website, then you have a certain process you expect visitors to follow in order to sign up for something. Since these are the conversion pathways on your site, need to do a test run of every single one of these to make sure there are no glitches. You also need to make sure that success page redirects are in place and look the way you want them to.
Here is what you should check for:
- Does a file actually download when clicked?
- If there is a sign-up or contact form, does the information import into the system?
- Any payments? If you require a payment, can you confirm that the payment was processed correctly?
- Do all of the form’s required fields work?
- As a website owner or admin, receive an email notification after each transaction?
- Are all buttons/links in these processes work?
- Once the action is complete, are visitors directed to a custom Thank You page?
The ability to process website conversions are an essential part of any online business. Therefore this is a crucial test. If you’re unsure of how to equip your website with any of these, there are a number of plugins that can help with setting up your conversion checkpoints correctly.
Check #7: Check for Mobile Friendliness
Did you know that over half of all search traffic comes from mobile devices? This means that search engines heavily weigh a website’s mobile-friendliness in their algorithms. Regardless of how many visitors you expect via a mobile device, you’re going to need to account for their ease. Just like you would for desktop users.
Don't worry, this is super easy to do. Head over to Google's Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to see how your site ranks.
Check # 8: Review Cross-Browser Compatibility
Cross-browser compatibility is another thing you must check before your WordPress site goes live. All it means is that you check the compatibility of your site on a variety of browsers. Which means that you'll have to download a variety of browsers onto your computer and head over to your site to check it.
Check # 9: Check Your Site's Speed
Site load time is a very important factor when it comes to the user experience. In addition, it’s also an important deciding factor in whether visitors stay on your website or not. A three-second wait time is often too long for many people, so you’ll need a way to test your site’s speed pre and post launch. Luckily, Google’s PageSpeed Insights will review and provide you with insights and recommendations regarding your website’s load time.
Check # 10: Review Accessibility
Most of the time it can be difficult for visually or physically impaired visitors to navigate and interact with websites. In order to have a universally accepted website, you need to make sure that it can be accessed regardless of disability type. WordPress has prepared some notes on that here. In order to properly test your website for accessibility, start by finding a free screen reader testing tool like NVDA to help you identify problem areas and go from there.
We know that a lot goes into getting your WordPress site up and running. It's a lengthy process that needs to be check and double checked. However, this checklist should help to make sure that everything is in order before you launch your WordPress site. If you still need help, we offer 24/7 WordPress support.
Have you launched a WordPress site before? Would a checklist have helped to make it easier? Or did you use a checklist to launch your WordPress site? Let us know in the comments below so we can discuss!