Websites are complex. There are so many things that are easily overlooked, like a broken link or a misspelled word.
And of course, a handful of things could go very, very wrong. Like what if you forget to test an important data capture form and then lose out on generating a bunch of new leads? Or worse, what if you forget to properly set up site redirects, and those valuable search engine visitors get a page not found message?
Instead of worrying about the what ifs, wouldn’t it be much easier to have a comprehensive website checklist to run down before every site launch? One that you could use for enterprise websites, microsites, landing pages, and everything in between?
Fortunately, we’ve created just that. Keep reading to learn everything you need to do before, during, and after launching a website.
In order to make good decisions, you must first understand where you’ve been. That starts with your existing website if you have one. Ask yourself:
The answers to these questions can help you identify your gaps, which can then inform goal setting for the new site.
You can get an idea of your site’s existing structure, pages, and assets by using a crawling tool. This is a necessary step in creating your website development plan because you’ll have a more concrete view of what pages existed before, what redirects are in place, and what the meta data currently looks like.
Not only will you want to compare how your new site performs compared to the old, but you’ll also want to continue identifying gaps that will provide data-driven insights to aid your new strategy.
Additionally, you’ll want to confirm testing procedures. Soon, you’ll begin testing your website to make sure all the different components are working, everything flows, and there’s a system for tracking bugs and enhancements.
Use a form (like Google Forms) instead of asking people to email their thoughts so the feedback-gathering process is more streamlined. Then, put one person in charge of choosing which bugs to prioritize, and filtering all the creative feedback you receive through the form.
Once the gaps are fully fleshed out, you can begin crafting your goals for the design. You may come to conclusions such as:
Whatever your goals, you’ll want to understand exactly how a new site will help you achieve them so that you can craft its implementation accordingly.
Make a project management checklist for the website. What content needs to be written? What calls-to-action need to be created?
Make a master list of the things you need for your website and deadlines for when they should be completed.
Then, assign each action item to an individual or team. It usually takes a lot of people to launch a website: You have marketers writing the content; designers choosing images and laying out the overall look and feel; a technical team doing all the back-end development. To ensure everyone’s on the same page and there’s no role confusion, you’ll want to lay out a comprehensive plan for what each team or person is responsible for.
One great way to do this is by using the DARCI model, which stands for Decision Maker(s), Accountable, Responsible, Consulted, Informed. It’s a powerful tool that’ll help everyone understand which individual is responsible for completing which action items, which individual(s) or group(s) need to be consulted before any final decisions are made, and who needs to be consulted once a final decision has been made or an action has been taken.
Poll everyone involved in your website launch on their concerns about what could go wrong, and then devise a few backup plans for what to do when — not if — some of these things go wrong.
Decide on a consistent brand message and tone, one that you’re committed to presenting consistently across. This will make you look more legitimate, credible, and memorable.
Take some time to ensure that your website has been given a solid foundation for SEO success. From site architecture and content hierarchy to metadata and XML sitemaps, do not leave any stone unturned.
Once you have an understanding of the primary pages that will exist on your site, you’ll need to figure out exactly what actions you want users to take and how you’ll capture their information. This includes thinking through:
Once you have an idea of what needs to get done before the launch, pick a launch date. Give yourself at least a month. our plan for two-to-three weeks of research, design, and development.
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