(Insert various movie quotes, pop culture references, and anything else related to launching things here). Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the purpose of this post is to get us thinking about the website launch planning and process to ensure that we aren’t mentioning any of those “Houston we have a problem” quotes. While no lives (typically) are at stake during a website launch there are often many risks that can impact a business’s bottom line.
Potential risks for botched launches include:
- Downtime between old site and new site
- Loss of search engine rankings
- Broken links for users
- Loss of old site
- Damaged relationships (with clients, customers, vendors)
- Lost revenue
“OK, I know this is important, but what should a launch checklist look like?” you may ask. I got my hands on the Voltage checklist to give it a look for myself. From an online marketing perspective, I’m happy to note that it includes the important SEO elements critical to launching a new site like 301 redirects, roboxt.txt file, XML sitemap, Google Analytics tracking scripts, and integration with other important tools.
- Cross browser compatibility testing
- HTML W3C validation
- CSS validation
- CMS accounts created for client use
- Site content proofread
- Archive of old site (if applicable)
- Sitemap of old site recorded
- 301 redirects mapped and ready to implement
- Pages load time testing and optimization
- Fav icon updated
- SSL ready for configuration (if applicable)
- Title and meta tags are customized and configured for each page
- All test posts and content removed
- Approvals (by designer, client, developer, and other relevant stakeholders)
- Approval for going live
- DNS configuration verified
- Checking of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
- Plugin Testing (if applicable)
- Testing of robots.txt and XML sitemap
- Testing of contact forms and engagement objects
- SSL installation (if applicable)
- Final visual inspection
- Documentation of passwords, IP address, DNS info, hosting info, etc.
- QA process for live website (similar to QA prior to launch process on dev site)
While this list is not super technical or exhaustive of all recommended steps, it hopefully provides some insight into the time commitment needed for properly launching a site. Unfortunately, I’ve been brought in too many times by clients post-launch to find that many of the things noted above were not considered or completed when a new site was launched. It is much harder to clean things up and do damage control the longer a new site is live when best practices are not followed.
Voltage employs a stringent process for every website launched. We’d love to share more details with you or talk about your project if you want to reach out to us. Feel free to comment below with any stories you have about launches or items that you think should be part of the checklist.
Photo of Apollo 16 Launch, NASA