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69+ Website Launch Checklist

Posted: 07/23/13
A list of frequently overlooked items that should be double checked before you go live.

Your website is finished and ready to publish. Possibly, but before you do maybe you should read on for some important items that you may have missed?

  1. Is your analytics software code in place on all pages?
  2. Do all your internal links go the deployment server url (aka www - not dev, staging, testing etc)?
  3. Do all your external links go to the requested page? No 404's, redirects, etc.
  4. Can the visitor tell within 5 seconds of visiting the homepage what the website is about?
  5. Can the visitor tell within 5 seconds of visiting an internal page what the page is about?
  6. Can the visitor do what he came to do with as little friction as possible?
    • If your website is task oriented, is it clear what the user must do to complete a task? Is the user interface forgiving? Do you offer feedback for successful actions?
    • If your website is exploratory, do you provide the user feedback about what to do?
  7. Is there an easy way the visitor can contact you in case they are having troubles using your website?
  8. Does your UI require some unusual actions that requires training the user? Does it really need it or can you use what the user is already familiar with?
  9. Do you consistently add new pages (once per week at least)? Consider adding RSS/Email Subscription to help users keep in touch with the content (Email subscription is also a good way to alert users to changes in the website/organization).
  10. Have you provided multiple ways for people to contact you both on and offline?
  11. Does the copy written elicit the response/action you want from the user?
  12. Is there a clear way for the user to get to different pages in your website (navigation)?
  13. Is the homepage linked to the website logo?
  14. Does your website have a favicon so it can be distinguished from other websites opened in the browser?
    • Does your website have a mobile bookmark icon?
  15. Sitemap
  16. Robots.txt
  17. .htaccess
  18. Does your website have at least these basic pages (home, about, contact)?
  19. SEO
    • Does each page have a unique and meaningful Title meta tag?>
    • Does each page have a unique and meaningful Description meta tag?
    • Does each page have Keywords meta tag?
    • Does each page URL have a meaningful and user friendly format (website.com/blog/i-love-web-design >> website.com/343321234)?
    • Does the website have one canonical web address (http://website.com is different from http://www.website.com according to google)?
    • Does the website use semantic markup?
    • Does the website use markup that serves no purpose other than to deal with layout issues?
    • Does the website have an XML Sitemap?
    • Does the website have a corresponding Google Webmaster Account?
  20. Have you looked at your website in the top 3 most popular browsers on the 2 most popular Operating Systems?
  21. Have you looked at your website in the top browser on the 2 most popular Mobile operating systems?
  22. Have you looked at your website in the top browser on the 2 most popular Tablet operating systems?
  23. Does your website have these optional pages (privacy, terms of use, help/faq, video, chat)
  24. Does your website have an internal search engine?
    • Does it return relevant results?
    • How do you handle 0 result queries?
    • How forgiving is the search for misspellings?
  25. Does your website have private information/features that you want to expose to registered users? Why isn't the information public (i.e. make sure the user sees that benefit of registering for another website)? How easy is it for people to sign up? How do you handle lost passwords/usernames? How do you keep the information private?
  26. Does your website have an admin panel that allows for content/media management and/or web design? How do people sign up to use this? How do you control access to certain admin features based on who is logged in?
  27. Can people buy stuff from your website? Does the payment gateway work? Is it one time or recurring?
    • What can they buy?
      • electronic goods
      • physical goods
      • services
  28. Would 3rd party advertisements enhance the user experience or is there another less intrusive way to give the user added value?
  29. Have you done user acceptance testing on the website to elicit feedback from actual users (5 users recommended)?
  30. Have you told the story behind the organization and/or website? Have you told the stories of key organization members?
  31. Is it important that your website be translated accurately in different languages?
  32. What is your disaster recovery plan? In other words, how long would it take to get the website back up and running the same way it was if something happened to bring it down? Hours, days, weeks? Could you pinpoint what happened and fix it?
    • hacks
      • denial of service
      • SQL Injections
      • Cross site scripting
    • system outages
    • white hat load handling
  33. List three features to encourage your users to contribute to the success of the website.
  34. Who is in charge of the website? Do you have one individual who can go through this list and handle each thing, or several people? If more than one person, create a list of the people and where their responsibility lies.
  35. Do you have a plan for updating the website (system)?
  36. Do you want to increase the traffic to your website through organic search (Google)?
    • Do you have a content strategy? Write fresh content 1-2 times per week
    • Do you have a link building strategy? Reach out to popular websites in a similar vein to what you do and offer to write content for them in exchange for outbound link, etc.
  37. Do you want to increase the traffic to your website through paid search (Google)?
  38. Do you want to increase the traffic to your website through social media?
    • Create social media profiles on popular social media websites (Facebook, Twitter)
    • Be interested in the community
    • Be interesting
    • Give something of value to the community
    • You will become a trusted authority and people will go to your website for advice, inspiration, motivation, etc
  39. Do you have any press releases that you can share on your website? Do you have any citations to your organization in print media (print still matters)?
  40. Have you created a visual language for your organization (Logo, typography, colors)?
  41. Does your website reflect the visual language that you have created for your organization?
  42. Is the visual language consistent throughout the website?
  43. If there are media (video, downloadable content), are they consistent with the visual language?
  44. How long does it take for each page to load? You should aim for something less than 1.7 seconds.
  45. Has your website been validated to comply web and accessibility standards? www.1stwebdesigner.com/freebies/online-tools-website-validation-testing/
  46. Does your website use Flash, Java, or any other proprietary non web standards compliant technology? Is there a web standards compliant way of doing it instead?
  47. Does your website have JavaScript errors?
  48. How do you handle errors? (Page not found error, application errors, server errors)
    • What does the user see?
    • How are you alerted of errors?
    • How do you fix the errors?
    • Have you exposed the error internals to the public (and possibly hackers)?
  49. Does your company have a tagline? Is it small enough to include in the logo? If not, is it clearly displayed elsewhere?
  50. Have you changed the browser default behavior for any element on the page (links, forms)? Is the element still usable for someone not using a mouse? If so, can the user still figure out what to do without training or friction?
  51. Do you have any JavaScript that overrides the browser default behavior for any element on the page?
  52. Does your website have any of these general interruptions?
    • Pop-ups?
    • Auto play audio/video?
    • Advertising with flashing/moving text
  53. Would the users of your website learn more about your organization and it's members if you have a showcase or gallery?
  54. Would the users of your website benefit from hearing about what others think of your organization/website (testimonials)? Do you make it easy for users to leave feedback (both positive and negative)?
  55. Are you making it easy for users to join the conversation (forums, content generation, social media sharing) about your organization/website?
  56. Are you expanding? Do you have a way of giving attention to this for the user?
    • Are you hiring/recruiting?
    • Have you opened a new office/space?
    • Have you moved into another market?
    • Have you pivoted into another market?
    • Has someone in your company been promoted within?
    • Has someone in your company been awarded something for being awesome?
    • Has your company been awarded something for being awesome?
    • Is there anything significant you would like to share with your user?
  57. Is your organization part of any professional organizations? Anyone in your organization have special designations?
  58. Content and style
    • Is the content free from grammatical and spelling errors (including punctuation marks)?
    • Does the content use consistent capitalization?
    • Does the content use consistent tense/style of writing?
    • Does the content use consistent variations in words (e.g. Websites vs Web Sites, UK vs US spelling)
    • Does the content use consistent treatment of bulleted lists (e.g. periods or commas at the end of each item)
    • Does the content contain any dummy text, placeholder (text/images) or lorem ipsum text?
    • Does the content look acceptable printed out? Since a lot of people still print things out in black and white, color is of no use. Also, links should expand to show the address (The best search engine -> The best search engine <http://www.google.com/>)
    • Is the content easy to read and scan?
  59. Web Forms
    • Do all the web forms work?
    • Have all the fields been tested for different inputs?
    • How are form errors handled
      • what visitor sees
      • what admin sees
      • what admin can do about the error
    • How will you stop spam?
    • Is the form input safe?
      • SQL Injections
      • XSS
      • File uploads
    • Are the inputs flexible and if not, do you give user instructions about what inputs are acceptable?
    • Are you relying solely on front-end validation?
    • Is feedback given if the form was submitted successfully?
  60. Does your website still work even if JavaScript, Flash, and other plug-ins are turned off by the user?
  61. Is your website optimized to run fast?
    • Image optimization
    • Caching
    • Minify/compress static (JavaScript/HTML/CSS) files
    • Database indexing
  62. Monitor and respond to feedback (direct feedback, on social media sites, check for chatter through Google, etc.)
  63. Is the website credible? Credible references, credentials, contact information, location, and images of real people are displayed on the website. Also, the website is professionally designed and up-to-date
  64. Does the website make good use of whitespace and typography (ie. uncluttered, with good visual hierarchy)?
  65. Does the website have a way to show people important changes to the website? If this is an alert, does it show up every time, just once, or until they cancel the alert?
  66. Does the website have content several levels deep? Is there a breadcrumb at the upper left corner of the content to help users know where they are?
  67. Does the website use table markup for non-tabular content? Tables should not be used for layout. There are semantic tags for layout (<div>, <section>, <article>, etc)
  68. Don't override browser defaults (hijack back button, auto-reload pages, stop user from zooming in/out, links that open up in a new browser/tab, forcing people (or even suggesting) to browse your website from another browser/device, changing the behavior of browser scroll bar, auto focusing form fields (takes away keyboard scrolling))
  69. Your turn. What do you often forget when launching a new website?

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