When you put a lot of effort into building a website, you want to make sure everything will work when you hit that 'live' button. Go-live is an exciting time, but before you rush to put your website up, you need to make sure you've covered everything on your list. The key to this is test, test, test!
To help you feel confident on your go-live day, we'll run you through the crucial things to consider before your website launch:
- Review content
- Test functionality
- Know when to release
1. Review the content of your website
There’s nothing more unattractive than a website that spells words incorrectly and contains sloppy imagery. It looks unprofessional and while it may have been a simple mistake, a good thorough review of how your content appears, can prevent it from happening.
If you’ve hired a copywriter or gone through a website design agency, this should be part of their job. However, it’s important to give every piece of wording a second look – several pairs of eyes are always more effective.
Before go-live, go through and carefully review the copy on every page. Make sure the spelling and grammar are all flawless (helpful tip: it’s easier to pick up on errors by reading backwards). Do this once you’ve written or received the copy, and also once the entire website has been put together.
This is something you should be doing once the content has all been put together. Ensure there aren’t any issues with the format of the copy on your website.
Check indents, indexing, fonts, and sizing. Always remember your website design should be consistent, so make sure there are no outliers when it comes to the pattern of your content.
- Meta data
To ensure your website design is compatible and optimized for SEO before go-live, every page should have a title, tags, and meta description.
Look over them all individually, and ensure they’re unique – you don’t want any pages to compete with each other. Make sure you have effective tags that accurately represent the content on each page.
All your images should be compressed properly for the web, and consistent in size and quality. Optimizing your imagery is also going to help the speed of your website, and ultimately prevent any long-loading times if the images are integrated correctly.
Take some time to go over each and every image. Make sure they have been compressed, and appear to have consistent quality. Your web designer should have taken care of this, but again it’s something you should check yourself as well. If you’ve created the website yourself you can use tools online to help reduce file size.
Using alt text is how search engines are able to identify your images, so ensure you’ve included it with each picture.
2. Check your website’s functionality
Your website’s functionality will help customers navigate and explore your business with ease. They’re not going to stay on your site if it’s slow and complicated, so ensure you test how your website runs before a customer experiences it.
- Compatibility and mobile-responsiveness
Your website should be easily accessed on a desktop, mobile, and other browsers. A mobile-friendly website design is especially important considering it’s the most popular internet browsing device. Google even penalises sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
If you’ve hired a web developer or designer, make sure they’ve designed the website to be desktop and mobile-friendly, and review it on each device yourself.
Otherwise, there are compatibility site’s online that can test if your website and its functions work properly across all devices.
- Links and redirects
The last thing you’d want is a website that just leads customers to error – so checking that each link works the way it should is essential to do before you go-live.
If your website is on the smaller side, the best way to do this is manually. Go through every link on every page of your website, and check that they redirect you to the right place. You should also be doing this for the URL of your website’s pages as well.
However if your website is looking pretty large, you might want to set up and automated link check. You can find free automated link checking sites online to do this for you.
- 404 page error
Your 404 page is an error page. It displays to your customer when they input data incorrectly – like the spelling of your website’s URL. Each website’s error page should be customized, so take some time to check over it.
Make sure your 404 page pops up properly, when it should, and that’s it doesn’t look as ugly as an error page could.
Ensure all forms are easy to fill out and no errors occur when submitting them. If you’ve set up an automated response system, make sure that this is working! You’ll want to be sure that every feature to your website design, functions exactly the way you planned it to.
- Speed and navigation
Your site speed is how long it takes for a page to be loaded, and you’re probably familiar with the feeling of irritation if a page starts up slowly. More than a 4 second load time is going to have negative effects on your customers’ experience.
Ahead of your go-live date, check how long it takes your website to load on each page. Your web developer should have optimized their programming to minimize load times, but if you’ve built the website yourself you can use online web speed and analysis tools to show where you might need to improve.
3. Plan your launch date
If you haven't already considered when you should officially launch your website, you should.
Remember that it’s going to be an asset to your business, and should hopefully see an increase of activity.
Think about what effect it will have on you and your business work load.
This means planning a go-live date that’s compatible with your resources at the time. You’ll need to think about:
You need to make sure you have the allocated people to take care of the content in it’s ongoing maintenance. Once you have your website designed, make sure you release it at a time with enough staff to maintain it.
The best day for you to plan your website launch is on an off-day for your business. Not a day you don’t work, but a day where you’re the least busy. This ensures that if anything were to go wrong, you’ll have the time to deal with it. These days are typically a Monday or Tuesday, with Tuesday proven to be the most popular option.
If you’ve incorporated blogs or articles to your website design and already have some written, you’ll need to know what ones you’re releasing along with the website. Don’t release them all at once, but plan what ones you do.
With the right release date, your website’s launch will be flawless.
Taking the time to think about all these things will really pay off.
Although it’s the final stretch of your long-winded planning process, knowing what to check before you launch and ensuring your release date is going to be effective will help set the tone for a successful website.
Congratulations, it’s time to launch!
Now that you’ve thoroughly reviewed your website and planned the perfect date to release it, you’re finally ready. We know it’s taken a long time, a lot of reading, planning, and designing – but isn’t it all worth it?
Your business has now officially built its website’s home and designed it’s perfect plan.
It’s a great achievement, and hopefully you’ll be ticking off your goals in no time.
The only thing remaining is the world outside of the pre-planning process, and how you work to achieve and exceed your goals – what to do after your website goes live.