In my boutique executive consulting agency, our speciality lies in providing comprehensive, tailored solutions for clients looking to launch their web-based products. With my extensive experience in navigating complex SaaS, web, and e-commerce environments, I've helped numerous clients streamline their processes from initial planning to product launch.
Over the years, I've amassed a wealth of know-how and built a robust system of repeatable tasks. The outcome is an extensive two-part checklist that ensures our client's websites meet general, legal, and technical standards. Moreover, they are market-ready with robust data analytics and ad-tracking capabilities. This checklist serves as a roadmap to success, ensuring every launched website is prepared to deliver its maximum potential and mitigate future development risks.
If you're on the brink of launching a new website, this checklist will be invaluable. It ensures that you cover all bases for a smooth and effective launch.
Part I: General, Legal, and Technical Readiness
Go through all content meticulously, ensuring that it is accurate and up-to-date. Check for any grammatical or spelling errors. All images, videos, and other media should be correctly licensed or free to use and optimised for web display.
- Spelling and grammar: Check all website content for spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- Copyrighted material: Make sure that all material on the site (text, images, video, and so on) is either original, appropriately licensed, or falls within fair use.
- Content Accuracy: Verify that all information (such as contact details, product info, pricing, FAQs, and so on) is accurate and up-to-date.
- Placeholder content: Ensure all placeholder content has been replaced with the final versions.
- Alt tags: Check that all images have alt tags for improved SEO and accessibility.
- Metadata: Verify that all pages have appropriate title tags and meta descriptions.
Ensure design consistency across all pages, including colour schemes, fonts, headers, footers, and button styles. The website should also be fully responsive, ensuring it displays correctly on various devices and screen sizes. Test the site on various devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and desktop computers.
- Consistency: Ensure fonts, colours, button styles, and other design elements are consistent across all pages.
- Responsiveness: Test your site on various screen sizes and devices to ensure it is fully responsive and looks good on all platforms.
- Favicon: Ensure a favicon is in place and displays correctly in all browsers.
Test every single functionality on the website, including forms, drop-down menus, buttons, and links. Fill out forms to see if they work as expected, click through all the links to check if they point to the correct destinations, and use any interactive features to ensure they perform correctly.
- Links: Test all internal and external links to ensure they work correctly and open in the appropriate tab/window.
- Forms: Test all forms (contact forms, order forms, etc.) to ensure they work correctly, validation is in place, and form data is sent to the appropriate destination.
- E-commerce functionality: If applicable, test all e-commerce functionality, including the checkout process, order confirmations, and user account functionality.
- Search functionality: If applicable, test your search function to ensure it's returning accurate and relevant results.
- Plugins and widgets: Ensure any plugins or widgets are functioning correctly.
Check the website load speed on various devices and internet speeds. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can help with this. Google Chrome Lighthouse tool is also a great choice and provides more flexibility for testing. Optimise images, scripts, and CSS files to improve load times. Implement caching and use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for better performance.
- Page load speed: Check the loading speed of your website. Aim for a load time of 1-3 seconds or less for optimal user experience.
- Check if HTTP 2 is enabled, which decreases latency to improve page load speed in web browsers.
Optimise your website for search engines to help improve its visibility online. This involves ensuring all URLs are SEO-friendly, using XML sitemaps, and setting up Google Analytics and Search Console, among other things.
- SEO-Friendly URLs: Ensure all URLs are SEO-friendly and structured correctly, using descriptive keywords where appropriate.
- XML Sitemap: Create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console to help search engines better understand the structure of your site.
- Metadata: Make sure each page has unique and descriptive title tags and meta descriptions to improve visibility in search engine results.
- Robots.txt: Use a robots.txt file to instruct search engines on how to crawl and index pages on your site.
- Google Analytics and Search Console: Set up and properly configure Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These tools will provide valuable insights into your website's performance and visibility in Google searches.
- 404 Page: Customize a 404 page to enhance user experience in case of broken or dead links and ensure search engines understand where to direct the traffic.
- Schema Markup: Implement schema markup where appropriate to help search engines understand the content on your site, potentially leading to enhanced search result listings (rating, availability, prices, faq, etc.).
- Image Optimization: Ensure all images have descriptive file names and alt tags to improve SEO and accessibility.
- Canonical URLs: Use canonical URLs to prevent duplicate content issues, helping search engines understand which pages to index and rank.
- Mobile Optimization: Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, as mobile-first indexing is now the default for Google.
- Site Speed: Check your site's loading speed, as this is a ranking factor for Google. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can be helpful here.
- Link Profile: Keep a healthy link profile by maintaining a good balance of internal and external links and ensuring no broken links.
- Technical SEO: Create and upload a sitemap to search engines to ensure appropriate indexing of your website.
Ensure the website is secure. Install an SSL certificate, update all software and plugins to their latest versions to protect against known vulnerabilities, ensure regular automatic backups are set up, and follow best practices for user data protection.
- SSL Certificate: Ensure that the site has an SSL certificate and that HTTPS is enabled
- Update software: Check that all website software, including CMS, plugins, and themes, are up-to-date.
- Backup system: Ensure that a regular backup system is in place.
- Terms and Conditions: Verify that your site includes a comprehensive Terms and Conditions page and that it's easily accessible from every page on your site. This document should outline the rules and guidelines for using your site.
- Intellectual Property: Ensure that brand logos, product names, trademarks, or patents are appropriately protected and credited.
- Accessibility Compliance: Check your website for accessibility compliance (WCAG guidelines), ensuring your content is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
GDPR/Other Data Regulations
Depending on your audience's location, ensure the website complies with relevant data protection laws such as GDPR, CCPA, LGPD, PDP Bill etc. Implement necessary cookie consent management.
- GDPR Compliance: If you're collecting data from EU citizens, you need to ensure you are compliant with GDPR. This means you need a legal basis for processing personal data and that users have the right to access, correct, delete, and transfer their data.
- CCPA/Other Data Regulations: If collecting data from California residents or citizens of specific countries, ensure you comply with respective laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Brazil's LGPD, or India's PDP Bill.
Perform extensive testing on various browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge etc.) to check compatibility. Conduct user testing for better understanding of user experience.
- Cross-browser testing: Test your website on all major browsers (like Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge) to ensure it displays correctly.
- Usability testing: Conduct usability testing to ensure the website is user-friendly and intuitive.
- Mobile testing: Test the site on multiple devices (iOS, Android) to ensure mobile compatibility.
- Domain and hosting: Ensure that the domain and hosting service are correctly set up and that the site is ready to go live.
- Soft launch: Consider doing a soft launch to a limited audience before going public.
- Post-launch monitoring: Have a plan for monitoring the site after launch, including analytics, user feedback, and functionality. It is a good idea to check what monitoring tools are available and enabled. For example, it could be Newrelic, Sentry, AWS Health Monitor, Vercel Logs, Kibana or anything else that would allow detecting issues on production.
Part II: Marketing Readiness
Advertising and Marketing Readiness
Prepare your website for advertising and marketing campaigns. Install Google Tag Manager on every page for efficient management and deployment of marketing tags or tracking pixels. Ensure each advertising platform you're using is set up with the correct tracking pixels.
- Google Tag Manager (GTM): Ensure GTM is installed on every page.
- Ad Platforms: Set up and configure the tracking pixels for each platform (Google Ads, Facebook Pixel, LinkedIn Insight Tag, etc.).
- Remarketing: Enable tracking for remarketing to engage users who have interacted with your site in the past.
- Every aspect of a given page like titles, sub-titles, captions, content, flowcharts and even the URL is thoughtfully developed in such a way that they fulfil the requirements of SEO.
Install and configure tools like Google Analytics to understand user behaviour and traffic sources. Set up event tracking for crucial user actions and conversion goals to optimise engagement.
- Google Analytics: Install and configure Google Analytics for tracking user behaviour and traffic.
- Event Tracking: Set up event tracking for crucial user actions and conversion goals.
- Google Console: Tie GA with Console for better Organic Traffic analysis.
Ensure your advertising platforms are set up with conversion tracking. This helps measure the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing campaigns, informing future strategies.
- Conversion Tracking Setup: Establish conversion tracking for all ad platforms.
- Effectiveness: Use conversion tracking data to evaluate and adapt your advertising strategy.
By meticulously adhering to this detailed checklist, you can ensure your website is ready for a successful launch. This roadmap does more than guarantee a functional and legally compliant website; it primes your product for market engagement and data-driven growth.
The successful launch of a website isn't an overnight achievement. It's the result of meticulous planning and implementation. With this checklist, every detail is accounted for, making your website's launch a triumphant stride into the digital world.
While this checklist is an invaluable tool for ensuring a smooth website launch, its utility goes far beyond just the final stages of your project. It also serves as an excellent guide during the planning and development phases of your website. By considering these points early in the process, you can ensure a more efficient development timeline and a more comprehensive approach to building your site.
When gathering requirements, this checklist can provide a solid foundation for understanding the necessary components of your website. It ensures that you have covered all bases, from design and content to technical and legal considerations. This can greatly aid in communicating with developers and designers, ensuring everyone is on the same page from the start.
Additionally, this checklist can be used to assign tasks or 'homework' to clients during the development process. It can be beneficial to involve clients in tasks such as content creation, ensuring SEO requirements are met, or even checking for design consistency. Involving clients in this way can help ensure their vision is met, and it also fosters a greater understanding of the website development process.
Thus, our comprehensive checklist is not just a roadmap to a successful website launch, but also a versatile tool for planning and developing a top-tier web presence.