The Check List for Launching a Site that Most People Forget

Everyone has seen Mobile First come and go and now it is HTTPs. Maybe you built your site a long time ago, like me and you now want to give it a revamp. What ever the reason for a site relaunch, I cannot stress the importance enough of a checklist.

I would suggest you layout the plan in the following ways

  • Before
  • During
  • After

Many people think when they are building a website that they think about the after, but actually it is whole process bigger than that and should start in the “before stage”

1) Before

Ask yourself why you want to build/redesign the website. Is it because you want it to look nicer, you want to make it mobile friendly? Or do you want to make it secure (HTTPs). Back in January on Search Engine Journal, Google said that more than 50% of sites were secure and this will increase throughout the year. Ask yourself do you have the resources to do this, it is not as simple as adding HTTPs.

Hosting

Before you start your redesign, check you have the right hosting package. I bought the SSL for my travel site and found out only when I added HTTPs that the hosting package was old and I was not able to update it. I then spent many weeks trying to unassociated the secure socket layer with the domain and move it to an updated hosting package.

Resources

Do you have the time to redo your own website? If you are in a company, do you have the resources in house or do you need to outsource. When I first built my travel blog, I had some “spare time” but unfortunately I did not have capacity to do the revamp.

My website Being30.com is aimed for those who want to travel on a budget. I set it up when I turned 30 as many people I knew who were single were depressed at the thought of moving out of their 20s and “growing up”. Now 6 years on, it is looking a little tired so I wanted to give it a fresh face. Plus I also wanted to connect my social profiles, something I was not very active on 6 years ago.

What is in a name?

Is this a new website or a revamp? Which ever it is, you should choose the name you want, not influeneced by others. My site is more like an online journal and it will last for when I turn 40, 50 and even older. But who knows by then, we might have moved away from websites and be all using interactive voice search from a moveable cloud.

Time Frame

Before you decide on going through with the website, make sure you also have realistic time frame. If the reason for changing the site is due to a new product or in line with a special event, then work backwards and give yourself an extra 6 – 8 weeks, depending on the size of the site.

Brief

This may sound obvious but it is important to clearly layout what you like in the brief. Write everything down, but try and be clear and precise. For example, the objective of the new site, the time scale, the number of pages, the content.

BackUP

Make sure you have a back up of all the website. Some hosting companies provide this as part of the package, but also back up everything again before you start re-building or changing the theme of your site.

2) During

Be in touch with the team who are working on the site throughout the build. Some companies work in agile and sprint environments and therefore the new site may be launched in stages in a staging environment. There are many different Project Management tools such as Slack or Basecamp. This can be a great way to keep on track of a project if everyone is updating the chosen platform.

Tracking

Make sure that you have your tracking in place set up for your new site. If you have re-designing the site, then the dev team should be working on a dev server. Therefore in theory you should not have to exclude anything from the robots.txt file.

Quality Assurance

Make sure you are able to test the site during each of the main development phases. If you do not have the time or are delegating, leave this to the Quality Assurance team.

Screengrabs

Take screengrabs of the before, during and after. This can get easily be forgotten but I like to remind myself of what the site looked like before, plus the number of Likes/Followers on Social Media.

Original Website

3) AFTER

Test Test and TEST

Give yourself enough time to test the functionalities of the new website. You can come up with a list of things you want to check for example:

  • Size of images
  • Font
  • Text aligment – with some new themes, the text is not center aligned by default.
  • Loading – Check the loading times (you can compare with how this was before the site was relaunched)
  • Analytics – Was this set up? If not, ensure the codes are in place.
  • Google Search Console – Make sure you check this and it is tracking the correct site

Ask for feedback. All feedback is good even if it may not be what you want to hear, but this is important. You work closely with the website and therefore may not see things in the same way as your users. I have been using sli.do for my surveys and collecting feedback, I would recommend this platform. Some people use survey monkey.

After the site has been built, I would go back to your original brief and tick off what has or has not been completed. If you have been testing during the site launch or redesign then you should not have too many “post” launch tasks to do.

Have you recently launched a website? What did you do? Did you have a checklist that worked for you? I would be keen to know. If you would like to leave your feedback for the Being30.com site relaunch, keen to hear from you.

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About Jo Turnbull

Jo Turnbull is the organiser of Search London and the founder of SEO Jo Blogs, which provides practical advice and tips for those in SEO.