The time to unveil your website has finally arrived. You have spent many months preparing for your site and the exhaustive part is over. Here’s a final step, a small website launch checklist to make sure you didn’t forget anything last minute.

We have divided these 23 points into 7 broad categories:

I. Security

II. Analytics

III. Site Performance

IV. Legal

V. Design

VI. Branding

VII. Content and SEO

I. Security

1. Backup

Backups are very important for your website. If anything goes wrong, you can recover it.

Backups are of two type:

i. Manual: You can manually FTP the files to your hard drive. But you will have to do it on a regular basis. Otherwise, the backups will become outdated and you will risk losing a lot of new content.

ii. Automatic: You can simply take a full site backup scheduled every day or after a fixed time interval. This can be done through plugins, cloud storage, external hard drives, and other software.

We do recommend going for an automated backup system.

And the easiest way to do so is by a plugin. Simply configure the plugin to automatically send copies of the backup files to your database account. This will ensure that the backup is available in case you need it.

You can use plugins like WP-DB-Backup, Duplicator, VaultPress. You can also have a look at this list of 10 best Backup plugins for your WordPress site.

Note: Most managed WordPress hosting give automated free daily backups.

2. SSL

SSL is more important than ever. Google has clearly stated, HTTPS will be considered as a ranking factor. Google Chrome has also started flagging the websites that are insecure. This is obviously very bad for your website.

Before launching a website ensure that your SSL is operational via SSL Checker tool.

Other than improving your Google ranking, SSL will also help to protect and encrypt your data and stop cybercrime. You can also see our post on how SSL works.

3. Security Plugin

There have been so many data breaches, malicious spams, and website hacking cases. Make sure you have protected your site against these. Security plugins are the easiest way to do this.

A security plugin will help you to:

  • Strengthen your website’s cybersecurity.
  • Safeguard your site from the fraudsters.
  • Enhance the functionality of your website and offer a better user experience.
  • Protect you from brute force attacks, malware, spams or any intruder access.

Some of the best security plugins are Wordfence Security, Sucuri Security, and BulletProof Security.

4. Disable Login hints

Login hints are like cheat codes for the hackers. These hints can work as a golden chance for the bots to break into your website. Make sure you have disabled the login hints in the script of the functions.php file.

You can do this by simply adding this to your function.php file:

5. Secure Username & Password

Using “admin” as your login name is very obvious which makes it easy for hackers to break into your site. Always change your default “admin” username into something uncommon. Also, keep updating your password on regular basis. You can use a strong password generator tool as it will give you a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.

All this will allow you to stop hackers from accessing your WordPress website.

Read More: 11 Proven Tips to WordPress Security (Updated 2018)

II. Analytics

6. Add Google Analytics

Any website launch checklist would be incomplete without mentioning Google Analytics.

Google analytics is the best way to understand your audience persona. It will not only allow you to see how many people visit your site but also where they come from. This will help you improve your website’s performance and problem areas.

For adding Google Analytics to WordPress, you will have to create an account on their official site.

Once you made an account, go to Admin > Tracking info> Tracking code. Now you have to paste this code on your WordPress website.

Website launch checklist

Simply follow the steps below:

i. Login to your WordPress Dashboard, go to Appearance > Editor.
ii. On the right side, in theme files, scroll down and click on “header.php” file.

Website launch checklist

iii. Copy the tracking code from Google Analytics and paste it here. Paste the code right before the </head> tag in the Editor.

Website launch checklist

iv. Click on “Update File” and your tracking code will now be active.

Note: You will have to insert this code again if you change the theme.

You can further read how to add Google Analytics to WordPress using a Plugin, Google tag manager or host Google Analytics locally.

7. Exclude your IP address

Always remember to exclude IP addresses of people working on the site. These can be your computer, your staff, your team members etc. This will ensure that the data tracking is accurate for your WordPress site. You can do this by adding filters:

  • Sign into your Google Analytics account.
  • Click on Admin > Filters > Add Filters.
  • Specify the criteria and save the changes.

III. Site’s Performance

8. Site speed

Did you know that most of your visitors will leave if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load. Serving content to users faster has to be your top priority.

Also, Google considers page load speed as an important ranking factor. So how do you check your website speed?

You can easily check your site speed as there are many tools available. Pingdom is one of the most popular and free tools you can use. Simply enter your website URL in the space provided.

Website launch checklist

You will also see some suggestions to improve your page speed.

How to fix delayed page load speed?

  • Use CDN(content delivery network) to reduce the load on your server.
  • Go for a better hosting solution. A good WordPress hosting will have a huge impact on your site’s speed.
  • Enable caching, you can use caching plugins like W3 total cache etc.
  • Optimize images on your site by using image compressions plugins. If you have a lot of images of your site they can be a big reason for slow speed.
  • Try to reduce the number of pages with redirects, as they negatively impact the site’s load time.

You can also check out our guide to instantly speed up your WordPress.

9. Check links

This step can be a bit tedious, but trust us it is very important. You can do this by using tools like W3C Link Checker.

Website launch checklist

Simply enter your website URL and click on check. It will give a detailed analysis of all the pages and broken links on your website.

You will also have to check these links manually. Click on every link on your website and ensure they are going to the page they are supposed to go. Some of the pages that are very important are your footer buttons, your social media icons, and your logo(linked to your homepage).

10. Optimize images

For a modern website interaction images and videos are a must. Images can work on grabbing users attention but can also affect your website speed and increase your hosting requirements.

You can optimize images by avoiding empty image src code lines. Also, avoid BMP or TIFF images and stick to JPEGs and PNGs.

Try to play videos on different devices and browsers, to make sure they are working well. Same goes for sliders, featured on your website.

You can use Photoshop to reduce the overall size of the image. But we do recommend using Image compression plugin like ShortPixel, reSmush.it, and Imagify.

11. Remove unwanted things

While you are in the process of making a website you might have tried and tested a lot of plugins and themes. Any plugin or theme that you downloaded and aren’t useful now should be deleted. These unwanted plugins and theme can also be a threat to your site’s security as they act as a backdoor for hackers.

Other than this, many WordPress themes also come with sample content and demo pages. If you aren’t using any of these, it would be safe to delete them.

You can also delete previous revisions of your pages and posts before making them live. WP Sweep plugin is one of the best and easiest way to delete these revisions.

IV. Legal

12. Privacy policy

This can be the most boring task on a website launch checklist. But please don’t skip it, as this can lead to a lot of trouble for you. No matter what website you have, even if it’s a small blog, you need privacy policies. It acts as an extra layer of protection for every website owner. And it’s actually quite easy to set up. You don’t have to write all these down yourself(Thank god! right?).

You can get them ready made by a plugin called Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. You can make further edits in this policy as per your website. Also, make sure these terms and privacy policies are clearly visible to your website visitors.

13. GDPR compliance

If you’re collecting data of any sort on your website, it is mandatory for you to be GDPR complaint. GDPR is a law that went into effect on May 25, 2018, with the aim of giving individuals control over their personal data. This is a very strict law as noncompliance can lead to penalties of up to 4% of the company’s global annual revenue or €20 Million.

GDPR requires you to ask for the explicit consent of the user before collecting and processing any of their data. To make your WordPress GDPR compliance you need do to these 3 things:

13.1 Analytics

If you use Google Analytics to collect and track personal data then you need to give a notice and ask users consent before tracking. You cannot do this by simply copying and pasting the code manually. We do recommend using Google Tag Manager to add Google Analytics code.

Also, the code that was considered standard until now requires additional snippet:

Add ga(‘set’, ‘anonymizeIp’, true); if you are using Universal Code

or

gtag(‘config’, ‘<GA_TRACKING_ID>’, { ‘anonymize_ip’: true }); if you are using gtag.js code.

13.2 Contact Forms

You will have to provide additional transparency if you have contact forms on your website.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Get explicit consent to store information
  • Disable cookies and IP tracking
  • Get separate consent for marketing purpose
  • Give user access to delete their information

Website launch checklist

13.3 E-Commerce Websites

If you are running an e-commerce store you will need to follow some extra set of rules like:

  • Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO)
  • Keep your Privacy Policy up to date
  • Use secure and encrypted channels(Use SSL)
  • Give users the right to access and delete their personal data

14. Special legal permission

Do check with a local attorney if in case you require special permission for your site. You might require a special license or permission to display certain information on your site. To prevent any risk, make sure you have permission for borrowed codes, images or fonts on your website.

Always keep these legal documents secured and up to date.

V. Design

15. Cross-browser compatibility

Some of the most famous browsers are Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Not all of these browsers will render your website in a similar way.

You can use tools like Browsershots to get an idea of about browser compatibility of your website. It captures screenshots of the pages of your website in different browsers. These are uploaded to a central dedicated server for you to review.

Something you need to look out for while reviewing this: fonts, logo, images, colors, and navigation.

16. Cross-device Functionality

More than half of your search traffic will be coming from mobile devices. Google also weighs heavily on the website’s mobile-friendliness in their algorithms.

Your user interface needs to be compatible with different devices like desktop, mobile, and tablets. You can check whether your site is mobile friendly by Mobile-friendly test tool offered by Google.

Website launch checklist

You can also double check this manually by testing your website on a few devices, ask your friends to do it on their phones and tablets.

Some of the key points that you have to look out for includes site navigation, design/layout, and consistency.

To make your website optimized for different devices make sure to:

  • Make short menus
  • Don’t make your users pinch in to zoom again and again
  • Make automatically expandable product images
  • Make call-to-action clearly visible

17. Contact form

Make sure all the forms on your site are working. Every form whether it’s a contact form, comment form, or an email subscription form, is very important. These forms will not only help you in generating leads but will also allow smooth communication between you and your website visitors.

Some things to keep in mind while making a contact form:

  • Easily accessible: link them in the header, footer or sidebars but be sure that it is visible to your visitors.
  • Don’t ask for unnecessary information like date of birth etc.
  • Check if the forms are redirecting to correct page.
  • Display additional contact options like phone etc.

18. Must have pages

Before launching your WordPress site make sure you have all the important pages on your website. You can’t just leave any of these pages as every page has some specific purpose, and works separately to attract and engage your audience.

6 Must have pages for your websites are:

18.1 About Me Page

These are one of the most important and fun pages. You can use this page to tells your users about you, your journey, your ideas, and your visions. You can also add your social media links on this page if in case people want to know more about you.

18.2 Contact Page

You can use popular WordPress contact form plugins to make this page. It will give your users easy access to communicate with you. On this page, you can share your contact numbers, office address, email id, and social media links.

18.3 Privacy Policy Page

We have already told you the importance of this page. And you how you can get this automated. But make sure to edit the automated policy and add additional information if required.

18.4 Affiliate Disclosure

Are you trying to make money online through ads, banners, and affiliate marketing? If yes, then you must have an affiliate disclosure page. On this page, you will have to disclose to the users your method of making money from blogging and marketing.

18.5 Career Page

If you are thinking about building a team, career page is a must. Even if you are running a small blog you might require additional writers. You can write a small piece of content to attract users.

18.6 404 Error Page

404 page shows an error message when there is an absence of content or the page that the user’s searching for. You don’t have to do anything on this page. This is a very simple and plain text page. But if you want you can always customize it.

VI. Branding

19. Setup emails

Next step on our website launch checklist would be setting up emails. You cannot use your personal email address on your website. Setup new email address on your domain. If your mail address doesn’t match with your domain or server, the server will consider it email spoofing.

20. Favicon

Favicon is a small pixel icon that is displayed next to the URL of your website in a browser.

Website launch checklist

It is best to add a symbol or logo as the icon is so small. Adding favicon is very easy in any theme.

In our Divi theme, all you need to do is go to customizer > site identity > select the image you want to use as site icon.

21. Social media integration

Social media is a must for online presence. Make sure you have an account on every social media platform and integrate these accounts with your website. You can use them for live feeds, links or even blog post promotion.

Add social media icons on footer or header menu so that they are clearly visible. Also, test if they are working properly and redirecting to the correct page. If you have set up your account to promote your blog post, publish a test post to check if the post is displayed clearly.

Other than that, if you have set up social feeds on your website, check if the new tweets or pictures show up as you publish them on social media.

VII. Content and SEO

22. 404 pages

You have checked every link on your website, and everything is working the way it is supposed to. But what if the visitor types in a wrong page name? What will your visitor see on your website? You will have to make a 404 error page for such cases.

You can get this page with most of the themes. Even if you don’t, it is pretty simple to make.

Website launch checklist

You can customize it as you like. Also, add links to other pages of your website. This will help the user find what they were looking for.

23. SEO 

We wouldn’t finish our website launch checklist without mentioning SEO. The search engine is the top source of free traffic. It is an ongoing process which starts from on-page SEO and ends with link building.

To make things easy you can download an SEO plugin that will do the job for you. Yoast SEO is one the best SEO plugin and is recommended by almost everyone. But you also choose some other plugin from our list of 11 best SEO plugins.

Other than using a plugin, there are certain things that you can take care of:

  • Use keywords in headings and meta descriptions
  • Check URL permalink structure
  • Add images, tags, and categories to your pages and posts
  • Double check your robots.txt file

Read More: WordPress SEO tips you need to rank better

Spread the word

Once you complete every task on this website launch checklist your website will be ready to launch. But before that, you will have to spread the message about this big day.

Send emails about your website to your friends, colleagues, and relatives. You can also ask them to follow your social media accounts and help you share links of your website pages.
Also, try to reach out to famous influencers and bloggers from your industry. If you have an interesting website and products, they might be interested in promoting you.

If in case you need any extra help, reach out to our WordPress experts.