The Ultimate Pre-Launch Checklist for Your WordPress Website

Looking to launch your WordPress website? Here is a comprehensive checklist to have before you launch your WordPress website.

Before launching your WordPress website, or any other website, having a checklist will help you keep yourself organized and on track. So, take a look at this checklist and make sure you’re ready to launch in style.

Here Are The Essentials You Need

Before the you go on to the checklist for your WordPress website, you need to take care of a few other

Domain Name: Before embarking upon the digital journey, you need to register a name for your website, called the domain name. There are a number of domain registrars available on the internet today, some of the most trusted ones are listed here:

  • Namecheap
  • GoDaddy
  • 1&1
  • Name
  • Gandi

Hosting Providers

You need to have a hosting solution provider before you take flight with your WordPress website. Now, there are two major type of hosting providers: Shared and Dedicated. I would not be discussing much about shared hosting as I don’t want your website to go down before going live. Yes, that is the problem with shared hosting. You get a website hosted with several other websites. Shared hosting most of the time results in slow websites and thus less ROI. Something I would stay clear off.

When you are working so hard on making your WordPress website, then you should not compromise on the hosting part. Here is a personal suggestion.

Cloudways

It’s managed. It’s secure. It’s affordable. It’s top of the line.

Cloudways Managed Cloud Hosting provides users the flexibility and ease for deploying applications on cloud. Scared that it might cost a fortune? Don’t be. Cloudways offers something for everyone as the packages start from $14. You can focus on marketing your content and leave the server management hassle to the team of experts at Cloudways.

Additionally, you get to experience the power of Google Compute Engine, DigitalOcean, Vultr, or Amazon Web Service – without actually going through the trouble of deploying through these providers. Furthermore, you can choose to deploy any (or all) of the 15+ web applications from within the Platform. It does not matter if you are a Developer, Designer, Ecommerce store owner or an agency – Cloudways has a plan to suit everyone.

With customer support providing assistance 24/7 and 365 days of the year, Cloudways is the ultimate choice for someone who is not much equipped with the technical expertise. The managed cloud hosting platform sports a responsive website with an easy to configure Platform. A number of functions inside the Platform are 1-click and the Platform also comes with an in-depth Knowledge base. For someone looking to launch a new WordPress website, Cloudways Managed WordPress Cloud Hosting is the ultimate choice!

What Goals are you trying to achieve?

When you have made the preliminary decisions – domain, hosting and business name – you need to decide the kind of website you are going to launch and what goals will it try to achieve.

Is your website designed keeping in the SMART goals? SMART goals are easier to work for and let you keep your focus in place. To give a you a headstart, here are some smart goals that you can assign to your website according to different aspects:

Marketing

  • Drive organic, paid and social traffic,
  • Engage with the right prospects,
  • Generate marketing qualified leads
  • Re-engage with existing customers

Sales

  • Help close leads by validating and supporting sales team

Communications

  • Ensure customer satisfaction
  • Providing Customer Support

Webmasters

  • Optimize content updates
  • Managing websites

IT

  • Ensure security
  • Maximize performance
  • Look after Scalability requirements

Operations

  • Costs control
  • Automating workflows and tasks

HR

  • Attracting and recruiting new employees
  • Supporting current employees

Blog

  • Ensure ROI
  • Optimize content
  • Manage the website

Once decided with your website goals, you are now done with half of the work:

  1. You have decided your website objectives and can now measure the success of your website
  2. You have set SMART goals and are aware of the scope of the website.

You have laid a strong foundation for your website. We can now move on to our launch checklist.

Here it is!

Measuring Success

Most people make a small mistake after launching their website: they do not configure the analytics straight away.

After you have launched your website, you would like to know where to make further changes over time and how to improve on underperforming sections. You can only do this if you have the right measuring tools in place from the very start of your website.

With that in mind, it is essential that you measure the performance of your website against the original goals of your website. So we will start our checklist with how you can judge the performance of your website

  • Analytics: check whether website analytics have been setup to help you know the amount of visitors coming to your site
  • Reporting: Make sure you have reporting enabled to identify in-page engagement. Furthermore, enable dynamic content personalisation to identify visitor browsing trends.
  • Check to make sure you have social media monitoring in place for engagement
  • Ensure that you have monitoring in place for pagespeed insights.

Content

The backbone of any WordPress website is the Content. Your goals need to align with your content. Your website content should be useful, accessible, concise, and consistent. Here is your content checklist:

  • Devise a proper content strategy

Before taking the website live, make sure your

  • Content is proofread and edited for:
    • Consistency of writing style
    • Punctuations
    • Spelling and grammar
    • Capitalisation – keep a standard on your website when it comes to headings
    • Recurring phrases/Adverbs/Difficult words
  • Make sure your tone of voice is appropriate with regards to your audience
  • All your content is formatted and structured
  • All your links are working correctly and there are no dead links
  • Contact details, social media details are easy to find and accurately updated
  • Make sure your content is responsive, i.e., your Images, audios and videos work across all supported devices
  • Content is correctly optimized. Hidden content like alt text for images is present and correctly updated.

Design

Your user-interface and experience needs to be exceptional. Before taking your website live, make sure your website design enhances the content present on your site. The design needs to be responsive and viewable on any device. Here are some tips to keep in mind before your launching the new website:

  • Screen size changes are responsive
  • Your website design is adaptive to the capabilities of the devices it’s viewed on
  • Favicon is present
  • Touch icons are present and optimized for mobile devices
  • Font is readable and user-friendly
  • The design is responsive for older browsers
  • Error pages are properly designed with a customized 404 error page in place.

Validate Your Website Against Standards

If you are a brand looking to make it big with your website, then you should get your site validated against certain quality standards. Don’t go for perfection with these standards as they can be gruesome and you would end-up being nowhere with your website. Aim for achieving higher standards with your website and keep on improving based on the findings. These standards can help you overcome mistakes and make the right improvements to your website before the launch:

  • ARIA Landmark Roles can be used to improve the accessibility of your website
  • Improve screen reader pronunciation by using the language attribute
  • Ensure that links on pages are recognisable
  • Provide subtitles for all dynamic media (audio and video)
  • Use this colour contrast tool to make sure it is appropriate for your visitor’s.
  • Make sure your site has a privacy policy or a cookie usage policy in place.

Supercharge Your Site

Speed matters. A visitor takes approximately 3 seconds before deciding on whether the website is worth the time or not. Furthermore, a high performing website has a significant impact on both, the user engagement and search rankings.

With that in mind, here is what you need to consider before taking your website live:

  • Reduce your file requests by combining files where appropriate
  • Minify your JavaScript, HTML, CSS and SVG to reduce file size.
  • Check whether you Image files are optimised
  • Make sure you have a caching strategy is in place where necessary
  • Load test your website before launch
  • Make sure you have an optimized hosting provider in place.

Additionally, have a look at this article which explains how you can speed up your website.

Mitigate Risks

Risks is associated with anything you do, even when launching a website. However, you can reduce risk by being proactive.

  • Make sure backups are scheduled
  • Make sure you have SSL enabled on your website
  • Perform penetration testing on your website
  • Check whether you have alerts in place to report downtime or to report any other indicators for website performance.
  • Make sure you have appropriate server disk capacity
  • Test your website for malicious code injection and cross site scripting vulnerabilities
  • Test whether the appropriate users and roles have been set up and allowed to specific areas of the site

Search Engine Optimisation

Search engines use a number of indicators to determine the ranking of your websites, however, the main component is your content and design. Both these components need to be genuinely useful to the end user.

But, with that said, there are a number of checks to perform before launching your website:

  • Thoroughly research the keywords and understand what your users are actually searching for, don’t go for assumptions
  • Make sure page titles are sensible and relevant. Don’t just stuff keywords into them.
  • All page in your website have canonical URLs
  • All your meta descriptions are accurately in place
  • Make sure all your redirects are in place
  • Make a sitemap and submit it to the search engines
  • Test your site for speed
  • Test your site for mobile friendliness
  • Make sure Microdata is in place as it assists in optimizing your content
  • All your images have Alt text in them

Test Everything

Launching a website is a stressful event. You have to dedicate a lot of time, resources and energy. And if you are not able to get the desired results – disappointment engulfs you and your confidence. To avoid being disappointed, you need to perform regular human centric tests on your website.

When conducting tests, make sure to get your website tested through mixture of automated and personalized human tests. These tests will help you gain the highest degree of confidence possible.

  • Make sure you have tested your website using smoke testing
  • Complex functionality on your website works as expected
  • Make sure you have tested your website for all supported browsers
  • Make sure you have validated your forms/opt-ins
  • Make sure all your accessibility tools are in place
  • Test your website for Load testing
  • You have tested the funnel/pipeline of the user

You Are Now Ready To Take-Off!

Once you have ticked off everything from this checklist, you are now ready to launch your website.

But, here is something you should keep in mind!

A website launch is never a one-time event. If you are going to launch the whole website in one go, you would not be able to gauge the result of your launch, specially if you are a small business or an ecommerce store.

Plan to launch your website with small, incremental changes.

Why?

Because it is easier to measure the success of small releases. You can easily build upon the success of your previous launch by developing and releasing further, quick improvements as and when they are needed.

With this in mind, you can check off these items from the list and start working on the next release of your website.

  • You have a set of long term goals for your website
  • Your content strategy is in place for the long-term, meaning your site is genuinely useful
  • Your design and user experience is a welcoming feature for your site visitor
  • You have conducted all the tests on your websites for optimization
  • You can scale your website when other new changes are required
  • Your analytics reporting is in place to measure and help you celebrate the success of your launch!

Go ahead!

You just had a low-stress, high confidence website launch because everything was documented. It is now time to give yourself and your team (if any) a pat on the back, grab those donuts and coffee and prepare for the next launch!

Tweet: Check out this Ultimate Pre-Launch Checklist For Your #WordPress Website from @umairquraishi on @wildflowerspix http://bit.ly/2bEigZB


ABOUT UMAIR
Umair Qureshi is a Assistant Manager Digital Marketing & Branding at Cloudways – Managed Cloud Hosting Platform

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

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