9 Crucial Checks To Make Before Launching Your Small Business Website

It’s approaching the time to launch your new website. After weeks or even months of planning, designing and tweaking – it’s ready and you’re desperate to go live. But, wait! Before you hit the launch button and release all your hard work into the world, make sure you carry out a few final checks.

Launch days are fun. Even after 10 years designing websites I still enjoy them. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to check that everything is functioning properly.  It’s not until someone points out that a link doesn’t work or they can’t signup to your sweet giveaway that you realise you missed something. Today I’m sharing with you the 9 crucial checks I make before launching any website.

1 // Check all our links

Take some time to visit each page on your website and if possible enlist the help of a friend to check each and every link. It is so easy to miss a wrong URL – especially if you have changed the page permalink during development. Any wrong link is going to show a 404 error, which isn’t the end of the world but it can frustrate the visitor.

Also, check your social media links – you don’t want to miss out on people connecting with you.

2 // SSL certificate installed

SSL certificates are becoming the industry standard. Both Google Chrome and Firefox are encouraging websites to think about visitor security by displaying a ‘non-secure’ message on pages without SSL.

People care about security, especially when it comes to their personal data and payment information so if they see that your site isn’t secure they may take their business elsewhere.

Installing an SSL certificate is fairly simple and in most cases, your host will take care of it for you. Some hosts, like Siteground for example, even provide a free certificate with Let’s Encrypt on their packages.

A new website is a perfect time to sort out SSL. It also saves you the bother of having to redirect non-SSL URLs after you’ve gone live. Double the work, is no fun for anybody.

3 // Google analytics & webmaster tools setup

Make sure you have Google Analytics and Search console setup and installed on your website. You’ll be able to track visitors as soon as you launch. Allowing you to measure how successful your launch day is and how your website performs over the initial weeks and months.

4 // Contact forms and signups checked

Not checking your contact form actually sends a message is a common oversight. I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past. You don’t want to miss any enquiries so send a couple of test messages through your form. Check that all the information is coming through and it goes where it needs to.

The same applies to newsletter signups – test every one of them. It can be easy to miss something resulting in a non-functioning signup form.

5 // Meta title & descriptions added  

It’s never too early to start working on your website SEO.  Instead of waiting a few weeks – get meta titles and descriptions added to each of your pages before you launch.

That way when Google indexes your site for the first time or rescans the site if you are redesigning it will be with proper meta titles and descriptions. SEOPress is my go to SEO plugin for WordPress.

6 // Responsive screen testing

Does your website look good on various screen sizes? Check on a mobile and tablet to ensure everything is displaying correctly. If you don’t have access to a tablet or smartphone, you can use free tools, like Responsinator to test different screen sizes.

Another quick way to check is to drag your browser screen smaller horizontally. It will give you an idea of how your website responds to screen sizes.

7 // 301 redirects setup

If you are redesigning your website then 301 redirects should be set up. 301 redirects ensure that any old URLs direct to the new ones. This means you won’t lose any search engine rankings or have to worry about any old links no longer working.  If you are using WordPress you can easily set these up with the Redirection plugin.

8 // Check your content

Have a read through every page on your website paying attention to the text – check for spelling and grammar mistakes or sample text left over. If you’ve been staring at your content for weeks it can be so easy to miss a random spelling error so try to look at it with fresh eyes.

9 // Payments are being received

Test your payment gateway if you have a shopping cart or you’re collecting payments on your website for services.  Most payment gateways have a test option so you can put through a dummy order and use test credit card details. This allows you to check that the payment info is transferring correctly between your website and the gateway.  After testing switch to the live environment.

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