1. Test your website’s usability
First impressions can either draw users in or deter them away. So the various parts of your website, such as links, buttons, navigation items, menus, pop-ups, login forms, images, and payment methods, must be in working order. A fully functioning website offering an outstanding user experience will be more likely to convert first-time visitors into returning users.
2. Check your website works on multiple devices
When designing a website, you must ensure that it’s compatible with the varying devices and screen sizes that people use today. You can do this by choosing adaptive or responsive designs. Adaptive requires you to create different mockups/designs for each screen size. In contrast, responsive requires you to create one design that automatically adapts to fit all screen sizes.
After choosing a method and implementation, double-check that the designs are functional on mobile, tablet and desktop to confirm there aren’t any flaws. To check your compatibility for mobile devices, try Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool.
3. Proofread your copy and copy
Before launching, take a closer look at the copy and content on your website to find and fix any grammatical errors and inconsistencies. Content filled with typos and mistakes puts a negative perception of your product in people’s mind and hurts its credibility.
To make sure everything is on point, we’d recommend using Grammarly to find any typos and grammatical errors. To help spice up and make your content more engaging, try out Copy.AI, which is a new GPT-3 powered AI writing tool.
4. Add metadata to posts and pages
Search engines use the metadata on your website to determine content relevance. There are many different metadata elements. However, the two most important are;
- Title Tags: The title tag is what users see on the search engine result page (SERP). Ideally, it should be less than 60 characters, excite users, and contain the keyword you’re trying to rank for.
- Meta descriptions: These are short descriptions that appear underneath the title tags on SERPs that provide a synopsis of what a post/page is about. They should also contain the focus keyword and be between 50-150 characters in length.
5. Make sure all key pages are ready
When building a website, all your pages must be optimised and ready to browse. The pages you have will vary depending on your circumstances. However, to minimise confusion and get things rolling, we advise that you launch your website with five key pages. These are;
- Homepage: The homepage should be visually appealing, clarify what you do, have clearly labelled CTA’s and help users easily navigate further.
- About Us: This page is an excellent place to tell your brand’s story, mission, USP and familiarises visitors with the team behind the website.
- Product/Services: This page is where you can detail the products/services you offer. From more about what they are, features and value prop.
- Blog: Here, you can add informative and helpful content regarding your area of expertise to keep visitors engaged.
- Contact: This ensures that users can easily reach you should they have any questions or queries.
6. Conduct a technical SEO audit
Before launching, there are several checks you need to make. To identify and stay on top of these, we’d recommend setting up either Yoast or Rankmath plugins if you use WordPress. From here, you can control anything SEO related for your website.
To make sure search engines can easily crawl and index posts/pages on your website, there are many checks to do. These include optimising your metadata with keywords, headings, fixing broken links, removing duplicate content and more. We could go on. However, the two links below should help answer any SEO related questions you may have..
7. Cross-browser compatibility check
Your website must work consistently across the wide range of browsers that now exist. You can easily do this manually by downloading Firefox, Google Chrome, Edge, Opera and more. Alternatively, you conduct a cross-browser compatibility check via an online tool like Lambdatest, which checks your website against 2000+ available operating systems and browsers.
8. Update CMS
The CMS consists of a range of tools that will help you manage all aspects of your website—from creating new pages, uploading new posts, adding or removing plugins and much more. To ensure the CMS works appropriately, you must install the latest updates to prevent instability and any issues arising. Typically, the CMS will automatically notify you when there is an update available.
9. Replace test with admin credentials
It is common to set up a site in an experimental environment with test credentials until you get things going. It is important to remember to review the credentials you have used when setting up the infrastructure and replace all the contact emails, site details, and roles with the appropriate ones before launching your website.
10. Configure permalinkS
The permalink is the full URL you see – and use – for any given post, page, or other pieces of content on your site. It’s vital that you choose the right permalink structure, as changing it down the line will cause broken links, which requires you to set up 301 redirects, which is incredibly time-consuming.
If you’re building on WordPress, we’d recommend choosing the “Postname” structure option, which omits categories and dates. There are some additional best practices you should follow when selecting the right permalink structure.
11. Test AMP compatibility
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is Google’s open-source project built to speed up websites’ loading time. Although it is supposed to be for mobile, now it applies to all devices. AMP for WordPress is a straightforward plugin you can use to make sure that your site is compatible. Once you have implemented it, you can check here to see if your site is AMP compatible.
Update: Google unveiled that AMP is no longer needed to rank amongst the top stories in its recent page experience update. In other words, AMP will soon have little bearing on rankings. However, we’d advise you to install it.
12. Review your website’s accessibility
Accessibility essentially refers to making your website usable by people with disabilities and impairments. To do so, you need to consider a few fundamental aspects of accessibility and make sure you cover them in your design and implementation. Your site needs to be;
- Perceivable: For example, Written content can be read by a screen reader for someone with visual impairments
- Operable: For instance, If someone cannot use a mouse, they can navigate using the keyboard.
- Understandable: For example, an error message points out the location of your mistake and how to fix it.
- Robust: Everything can roll up to the newest hardware and not break.
Accessibility is not limited to these four factors. If you are explicitly creating a project for people with disabilities, you will want to go beyond just ticking those off the list. The above are good indicators of whether your website can be accessed and used by anyone. There are also several online tools you can use to run an accessibility check.
13. Secure your website with SSL
SSL, or secure socket layer, is a free-to-generate digital certificate that authenticates your website’s identity and allows you to use HTTPS for secure data transfer. It signals to visitors that your website is safe and secure. A website with a working SSL will have a lock icon in its URL field on a browser. If your website doesn’t have an SSL, visitors will see a warning screen that tells them your website isn’t secure, which is understandably a huge turn-off.
14. Check your website complies with legal requirements
Before launching your website, it’s compliant with all the legal requirements. Some of the legal checks and documentation you must include are;
- Indicate cookie use: You should notify users when using cookies to track how they’re interacting with your website in each session.
- Check licenses: Make sure you have licenses for all the elements, such as fonts and images, you’ve used.
15. Invite people and assign roles
One of the final checks you want to make before going live is to review your granted permissions. Check the members and their roles, invite anyone who needs access to the site, and remove people who will not need it anymore. This will avoid confusion and ensure the right information is shared with the right people at all times.
16. Review your XLM / HTML sitemaps
A sitemap describes the website structure and the overall architecture of the information on the site (pages, subpages, etc.) An XML sitemap differs from an HTML sitemap in that it is written for search engines to recognise as opposed to humans, which is the case in HTML sitemaps. Having a clear structure of your site is very important for visibility so that that engines can crawl your site, so it ranks higher and visitors can navigate easily.
17. Set-up Analytics
You must integrate an analytical solution so you can get deep insights into visitors from their demographic data, where they’re coming from and see how they’re interacting with your website. There are many solutions. However, we advise all our clients to set up Google Analytics and search console.