The day has finally arrived. For the past few weeks, you or your team have put in a lot of effort, time and unwavering dedication just so you can launch a perfectly functional website that offers exemplary user experience. The only thing separating you from calling it a job well done is to formally publish the pages and declare the website officially “live”.

However, before you do that, there are a lot of things you need to double check. Putting together a website is no joke. Every overlooked error and mistake can hurt your website’s user experience level, even minuscule things like a misspelled word or a single broken link.

Believe it or not, even seasoned web developers and marketers have made the mistake of being too eager to publish a website that they forget to check and double-check important details. To prevent yourself from falling into the same trap, here is an easy-to-follow, yet comprehensive checklist that can help you cover all the necessary bases before launching your website.

Content Is Key

The cliché “content is key” is popular in the Internet marketing universe for one reason – it remains true to this day. Even if you have the flashiest and most unique of website layouts and the most interactive of page elements, if your content is incomplete or horribly placed, then all your efforts are for naught.

This does not apply to text alone, although it still comprises majority of all website content. Make sure you have an editor or beta reader on your team to go through all pages and make sure that everything is complete. All articles, posts and web copy should be at the proper place, and devoid of glaring grammatical and spelling errors. Formatting should also be taken into consideration, from the headings to the text alignment. Paragraphs should be kept short and in order.

Even other page elements like videos and images should be in their proper places. Make sure they are inserted into appropriate sections and that all image and video links are working. Gone are the days when most website visitors are limited to the PC, so cross-platform responsiveness should also be ensured.

Lastly, make sure all copyrighted materials are properly noted and that you have rights to all images and videos placed on your site. Also, ensure that all content is plagiarism-free.

Design Elements

When it comes to design, the first thing you need to check is whether all codes are working properly. The last thing you need is a wayward html code standing out like a fish out of water amongst your page text. If all coding and scripting is done properly, all page elements should load properly and all design elements in their proper places.

Check if your website is responsive and intuitive. Load the website using several different browsers to ensure it is optimized for all browsers. Check if the website is optimized across all platforms by opening it via a smartphone, a tablet or a mac.

Functionality and User Experience

This section may be the hardest to check of them all, especially if you have a large website. Functionality means your website pages should work as they should and all visitors should be able to engage in several activities in your website without any hassle.

Make sure all submission forms work properly from start to finish and that the finished form is sent to the correct address or database. Also, ensure that all prompts are working, from redirect prompts to thank you messages for different forms.

Also, double check to see if all internal and external links are working, and that all external links open up in a new tab or window. Check if RSS and social media feeds are properly embedded and updating in real-time. If you are using any third-party tools, double-check to see if all applications are not only working, but also user-friendly. You may need to tweak some settings if certain processes like purchase tunnels and customer service portals are too convoluted and confusing.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO now plays a big role in website development, so make sure you have an expert on your team to check if your website is not only appealing to readers, but also to search engines. Double-check all page titles and meta descriptions to see if they pass SEO standards. All content must have the proper keyword densities and metadata should be present on all applicable areas. Make sure that your website has its XML sitemap and that has been submitted to all search engines.

Analytics

More often than not, people often neglect Analytics when launching a website. It is important that before a launch, all web data capture devices and analytics tools are properly functioning. This way, you know how your website is doing from day one. Make sure all your Analytics accounts (Google webmaster, Adwords and Analytics) are synced to your website.

Website Security And Compliance

Here, you check if your website is ready for any attacks from outsiders. This is also where you check for any legal-related issues on your website. Make sure all monitoring scripts, firewalls and other security measures are up and running before you launch your website. Don’t forget to tweak your data backup settings to allow for regular data backups at your desired frequency. All confidential information, website credentials, usernames and passwords should be stored in a separate, secure database.

It is also recommended that your team hire a legal counsel to double-check all compliance-related items on the list, preferably someone with a lot of experience in Internet laws. You must also make sure that all content is plagiarism-free, and that your website is complying with all requirements related to borrowed images, fonts and scripts.

Final Words

Launching a website can be stressful, even for seasoned veterans in the industry. However, with the help of a checklist or a seasoned web development firm, you can cover all your bases in an organized fashion. This way, you leave no stone unturned without taking too much time and delaying the launch date.

Have questions on pre-launch steps? Drop me a message on Twitter or share your own pre-launch checklist in the comments below.

If you don’t spend your days heads down, immersed in technology it’s easy to feel intimidated. It’s complicated, it’s full of unfamiliar acronyms and it always seems like there’s some secret knowledge that you can’t quite grasp. And sometimes, well, it is hard. But it’s not rocket science either. At its core it’s something you already understand. It’s building, construction, putting things together to make something new. Sure, we’re using code and not boards and nails, but in the end they have more in common than meets the eye.

Every building starts with a goal. Not with a hammer. Not even with a blueprint. Just a goal.

“I want to house two adults and two children on 0.2 acres of land.”
“I want to provide public library services to an area serving about 100,000 people, and I want to offer them about 25,000 books.”

Those two are very different. You’d hire a different architect. She’d build you a different blueprint. You’d hire a different contractor. It would take more money and more time to build the library than to build the house. And you would certainly never start building a house for a family of four and halfway through decide you wanted to turn it into a public library. That’s common sense. It’s smart planning and decision making. You started with the end in mind.

Technology is no different. You’ll never make smart decisions if you don’t understand your goal. And just as in building, there is no such thing as build it and they will come. Who will come? Why? What do we want them to do when they get here? Will they pay us to be here? If not, who will?

Start with the end in mind. Don’t decide what you’re going to build until you know where you’re going. “We want a mobile app?” “Do you? Why? What is the purpose of having a mobile app? Do your customers have mobile devices? Are they open to using the internet to do business with you?” Smart planning. Smart decisions.

For the last six years,  we have opened our doors at Centresource to the Nashville community for our mixers. We welcome our friends in the technology, marketing, startup, non-profit and business communities to join us to connect with old friends and meet new ones. We invite our past and current clients to join us and get to know us outside of the working day. We extend an invitation to our Germantown community, which gives us a great chance to meet our neighbors. We drink a lot of beer, we eat some good food and we normally leave a big mess to welcome us Friday morning.

Our team is proud of our mixers. We love showing off our house and giving people a behind-the-scenes peek into how we work. But for us, it’s less about showcasing all things Centresource — It’s about providing the opportunity for our community to meet like-minded professionals, reconnect with past colleagues and have some fun while doing it. It’s about giving the technology and marketing communities the chance to talk shop, share a beer and a laugh and meet new people. It’s about celebrating the good work going on in this town and fostering a culture of community.

We realize there are a whole slew of networking events going on in Nashville on any given night, so we are always excited to see such a large group at our mixers. We’d like to thank the loyal folks who have been joining us year after year. We never tire of seeing you. We’d also like to thank the newer faces we have seen this year. Hope to see you again soon.

Our final mixer of 2014 is Thursday, November 13th. We are partnering with the Corner to Corner McFerrin Park Reading Program to help benefit their after-school reading program. We are asking people to bring a book or two for the center or donate a few dollars to the cause. As usual, we’ll be providing good beer and good eats. All we ask of you is to bring the good times and to meet a few new folks next Thursday.

To learn more about the Centresource Autumn Mixer, visit here:
http://mixer.centresource.com/