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Ultimate Website Launch Checklist

Here's a checklist that should be used by all websites before they are launched.

Getting Started

  • Buy the domain, if necessary
  • Find suitable hosting server
  • Make arrangements for payment gateway, if needed
  • Obtain SSL Certificate, if needed
  • Install necessary software on server
    • Database
    • Mailing List
    • Content Management System
    • Backup software

Content and Style

  • Typography and layout
    • Check for incorrect punctuation marks, particularly apostrophes, quotation marks and hyphens/dashes
    • Check headings for where you could potentially use ligatures
    • Check for widow/orphan terms in important paragraphs
  • Spelling and grammar
  • Consistency
    • Capitalization (especially of main headings)
    • Tense/Style of writing
    • Recurring/common phrases (e.g. ‘More about X’ links)
    • Variations in words (e.g. Websites vs Web Sites, or UK vs US spelling)
    • Treatment of bulleted lists (e.g. periods or commas at end of each item)
    • Copyright statement in footer, with correct year
  • Check for hard-coded links to staging domain (i.e. ensure all links will change to ‘live’ URL/domain when site is launched)
  • Ensure no test content on site
  • Check how important pages (e.g. content items) print, set up print style sheet as needed
  • For re-designs, ensure important old/existing URLs are redirected to relevant new URLs, if the URL scheme is changing
  • Check all ‘Hidden Copy’ (e.g. alt text, transcriptions, text in JavaScript functions)

Standards and Validation

  • Accessibility
  • HTML validation
  • JavaScript validation
  • CSS validation

Search Engine Visibility, SEO and Metrics

  • Page Titles are important; ensure they make sense and have relevant keywords in them
  • Create metadata descriptions for important pages
  • Check for canonical domain issues (e.g. variations in links to http://site.com/ http://www.site.com/ http://www.site.com/index.html should be reduced to a single consistent style)
  • Ensure content is marked-up semantically/correctly (<h1>, etc.)
  • Check for target keyword usage in general content
  • Check format (user/search engine friendliness) of URLs
  • Set up Analytics, FeedBurner, and any other packages for measuring ongoing success
  • Create an XML Sitemap
  • Create and RSS Feed from the blog or news section
  • Configure Google Webmaster Console and Yahoo! Site Explorer
  • Check internal linking of all pages to verify accessibility to crawlers, bots, and visitors
  • Check all landing pages for PPC, affiliate programs, AdWords, etc
  • If duplicate content is possible (multiple URLs with the same content), add <link rel="canonical" href="canonical-link"> to tell search engines what the "official" page is known as

Functional Testing

  • Check all bespoke/complex functionality
  • Check search functionality (including relevance of results)
  • Check on common variations of browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, iPhone etc.), version (6, 7, 2.2, 3.1 etc.) and platform (Windows, OSX, Linux)
  • Check on text browser such as Lynx for basic accessibility
  • Check on common variations of Screen Resolution
  • Test all forms (e.g. contact us, blog comments), including anti-spam features, response emails/text, server side validation, etc
  • Test without JavaScript, Flash, and other plug-ins (graceful degradation and/or progressive enhancement)
  • Check all external links are valid
  • Verify appropriate file permissions are set (writable for upload folders, etc)
  • Test all web2.0 and social networking features
    • user generated content
    • social bookmarks
    • Facebook Connect
    • widgets
    • shared/posted links
    • user account set-up and settings
    • backend management / administrative systems
    • embedded content, e.g. YouTube videos

Security/Risk

  • Configure backup schedule, and test recovery from backup
  • Protect any sensitive pages (e.g. administration area)
  • Use robots.txt where necessary
  • Security/Penetration test
  • Turn off verbose error reporting
  • Check disk space/capacity
  • Set-up email/SMS monitoring/alerts (e.g. for errors, server warnings); consider internal and external monitoring services

Performance

  • Load testing
  • Check image optimisation
  • Check and implement caching where necessary
  • Check total page size/download time
  • Minify/compress static (JavaScript/HTML/CSS) files
  • Optimise your CSS: use short image paths; make full-use ‘cascading’ nature of CSS, etc
  • Check correct database indexing
  • Check configuration at every level (Web server, Database, any other software e.g. Content Management System)
  • Configure server-based logging/measurement tools (e.g. database/web server logging)

Finishing Touches

  • Create custom 404/error pages
  • Create a favicon
  • Create an iPhone favicon <link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="/favicon.png">
  • Verify DNS records for mail forwarding, etc if moving to a new host environment

Post-Launch: Marketing

  • Social Marketing: Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, Facebook, Stumbleupon, etc.
  • Implement a linking strategy to obtain incoming links
  • Submit XML Sitemap to search engines
  • Set-up PPC/Google Adwords where necessary
  • Check formatting of site results in SERPs

Post-Launch: Ongoing

  • Monitor and respond to feedback (direct feedback, on Social Media sites, check for chatter through Google, etc.)
  • Check analytics for problems, popular pages etc. and adjust as necessary
  • Update content
  • Verify backup procedure is still working

Credits, License

Original work here: http://www.boxuk.com/blog/the-ultimate-website-launch-checklist

Additional ideas taken from comments on that page and from 15 essential checks before launching your website (Smashing Magazine)

This is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

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