Launching a new website is exciting, but it can also be stressful. Even seemingly small issues that occur during a launch can have big impacts.
Forms that don’t work can result in lost leads. Slow loading times can create user frustration. Online consumers aren’t forgiving, either — 88% of them won’t return after a bad experience with your site. Plus, with so many moving parts involved with launching a new site, it’s easy for important steps to be overlooked.
That’s why it’s critical to have a website launch checklist to ensure the process runs smoothly.
We decided to take all the most important things you need to check before, during, and after your website launch and put them all in one place. If you’re getting ready to launch a new site, you can put your mind at ease — what follows is the only website launch checklist you’ll ever need.
- You can lay the groundwork for a successful new website launch with steps like a current website audit, goal setting session, and comprehensive work plan.
- Attention to detail with thorough proofreading, testing, and review ensures small mistakes don’t have larger negative impacts.
- Setting up site security is important for avoiding critical issues like data breaches and site defamation.
- Technical SEO auditing is the key to ensuring your new website ranks on search engine results pages.
- Web analytics provide actionable insights that enable you to continually optimize your website performance.
The Only Website Launch Checklist You’ll Ever Need
Analyze and document your old website
There’s a reason you’ve decided to launch a new website, and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to learn as much as possible. Before you move into the new launch process, it’s a good idea to analyze your current website and document its strengths and weaknesses.
What are the things you want to keep for your new site? What do you need to change? Which metrics are suffering and which are performing well? These questions and more can put you on the right path to launching a new site that jumpstarts your overall business performance.
Here’s a helpful step-by-step guide through a website analysis to help you get started:
Now that you have a detailed understanding of your current website, it’s time to shift your focus to your new site.
Go back to the original question: why did you decide to launch a new website? Then consider what you learned from your website analysis. You can use these insights to set goals for your new site.
We recommend using the SMART goals framework for goal setting, which ensures your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Making your goals SMART sets you up for easy analysis later down the road, when you’ll be looking to assess performance.
Create a work plan and timeline
Remember all of those moving parts we mentioned before? There’s a way to make sure they’re all documented, tracked, and assessed throughout the website launch process.
Creating a content calendar that includes roles, responsibilities, and deadlines keeps your project team accountable and on track.
You don’t have to start your work plan from scratch, either. There are plenty of tried and true work plan templates you can download and customize to fit your specific project needs.
This list from Template Archive has more than 30 downloadable templates you can choose from.
Choose a CMS system
You probably evaluated your content management system (CMS) during your current website analysis and goal setting steps. Before you move heavily into the website launch process, you should make a final decision on the website CMS system you’ll use. The CMS you choose will likely affect other choices you make during your launch, both related to design and functionality.
WordPress is by far the most commonly used CMS, but there are other popular options like Drupal or Optimizely.
Here’s a helpful guide on CMS basics and which one to choose for your website:
Proofread your copy (then do it again)
Don’t underestimate the effect of simple grammar mistakes and other errors in your copy. It might seem like an understandable mistake that may go overlooked, but the research says otherwise.
A survey conducted by a London-based digital marketing agency of over 1,000 web users found that more than 42.5 said they would be more turned off by spelling and grammar mistakes than any other blunder made by a brand online.
This might seem extreme, but it’s understandable. When consumers make a purchase, they want to do it from a reliable and professional brand. Spelling mistakes are easily avoidable, and having them on your website indicates carelessness. When you’re launching a new site, be sure you proofread thoroughly. Even better, have more than one person do it, and have each person do it twice. It’s a time consuming task, but well worth the confidence in your content.
Test your UX
Your website is often your first impression with potential customers, and you only get one. Be sure that before and after you launch your website, you do thorough UX testing to be sure your visitors have an optimal experience.
Your UX test should include:
- Testing your site on PC, tablet, and mobile devices
- Ensuring page loading times are appropriate
- Checking all images, videos, and audio files are working properly
- Testing your website on multiple browsers
- Checking all download links and testing all forms
- Testing all internal and external links
Remember: a lot can happen between the final pre-launch test and your official launch. Testing both before and after launch ensures that you can quickly identify and fix any glitches before your web visitors notice them and they have a chance to impact your new site’s performance.
Check third-party integrations
Modern websites utilize many third-party tools, plug-ins, and software to support marketing and sales functions. Make a comprehensive list of all third-party integrations you’re using, and be sure to check them before and after launch. Failing to do so could result in website functionality issues and, even worse, data loss.
Update all placeholder content
This one is so obvious it can be easy to overlook. Throughout the process of building your new website, it’s likely you used placeholder images, captions, headings and more with the intention to replace them after design is complete.
Just as you did with proofreading copy, it’s a good idea to go through your website multiple times (and preferably have multiple people do it) to check that all filler content has been replaced with the real thing.
Create a sitemap
Sitemaps are a great tool for viewing your website’s architecture from a high level.
Creating a sitemap when you’re launching a new site serves two important purposes. First, you can analyze it to be sure your site’s architecture aligns with your strategy and is set up to help meet your goals. Second, it becomes a reference document that can be updated and adjusted as time goes on to reflect new changes.
Sitemaps also have additional benefits, like helping you improve your SEO rankings and making it easier for search engines to crawl your site.
Sitemaps might seem daunting, but they actually don’t need to be very complicated. Most of the time, a simple flowchart format like the one below will work just fine.
For a deeper dive on this, see Quicksprout’s guide for how to create sitemaps in five easy steps.
Set security measures
Security isn’t the most glamorous part of launching a new website, but it is one of the most critical. Security breaches can have disastrous effects like breached data, broken pages, or even an entire website crash.
Steps for securing your website should be included in your web launch work plan. Some things to consider:
- Where will passwords and site credentials be stored?
- Who will have access to passwords and site credentials?
- What is our site backup plan? What is the location?
- How will we protect our data in transit?
Security breaches have larger impacts than just unfortunate website issues — they can severely impact consumer trust in your brand. You can read more about important website security considerations here.
Check your technical SEO
Solid technical SEO is the primary way to ensure your website can be crawled and ranked by search engines. Since we all know your brand is basically invisible if it isn’t ranked, you definitely want to audit your technical SEO before you launch your new website.
Performing an official technical SEO audit is the most thorough approach. We recommend Hubspot’s comprehensive technical SEO guide as a resource.
Set up analytics
Monitoring your website analytics has never been easier — there’s just no reason not to do it. Web analytics has more value than simply monitoring performance. You can leverage analytics to obtain actionable insights that help you improve your content and deliver revenue-driving results, like more leads and higher conversion rates.
Using analytics insights, you can optimize your best-performing content even further, update or eliminate content that’s not delivering results, align your website architecture with target keyword search queries, and target your content more effectively. Here’s our deeper dive on web analytics and why they’re valuable.
In the meantime, if there’s one thing to add to your website launch checklist right now, it’s setting up Google Analytics as soon as your new site launches. It provides a treasure trove of useful data and it’s free (for most features). Check out this beginner’s guide to Google Analytics from SEMRush to help you get started.
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