Website Launch Checklist

Are you preparing to launch your next WordPress website? Start with complete confidence! We have created this handy website launch checklist to ensure a smooth launch. Click or tap to mark rows as completed or not-applicable. Good Luck!
There are three different difficulty levels: easy, moderate, and challenging

  • Content should be easy to read – font size, short sentences, bullet points, lots of white space
  • Images must be optimized, properly labeled and have alt text
  • Audio and video files need to work properly

Design & UX

This is crucial nowadays! Fortunately, you can use free tools like Website’s Planet Responsive Checker to test your website in various screen sizes. You can also use Google Lighthouse, which you can run as a Google Chrome extension, from the command line, or as a Node module. Google Lighthouse, is a free Google tool that helps you improve the quality of webpages on your website and also check various mobile friendly aspects.

Is the font readable? Don’t use hard to read font especially in paragraphs and large blocks of text.
Is there good reading contrast? For example don’t have blue text on a blue background.
Is the site easy to navigate? Are menus and links easy to find?

Often, when a site is moved from the staging area to production, it’s necessary to change all the URLs. Make sure to double-check that all the URLs are correct on the live version of your site before you move any further through the website launch checklist.

Sure, 404 errors are not likely on a new website. Nevertheless, a visitor may mistype or somehow land on a “Page Not Found” error message. Just so you don’t lose this visitor, and to improve user experience, create a custom 404 page.

Truly, this is the most boring part of our website launch checklist. However, it’s necessary if you don’t want to get into legal issues later.
  • Take care that required licenses are in place for images, fonts, plugins, etc.
  • Consider including a ‘Terms of Service’ to explain your services in detail. ChatGPT can help you produce a solid Terms of Service and Privacy Policy text in a split second.
  • In case your website is an ecommerce store or deals with money in any way, you should add a comprehensive ‘Terms and Conditions’ section.
  • If you’re collecting data, it’s comforting to users if your Privacy Policy reassures them that their personal details are in good hands. Compliance with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is necessary, too.
  • A cookie warning is a legal requirement in many jurisdictions, so take care to include one.< Check out the legal requirements in different geographies for age verification, consent requirements, credit card processing and more.
Appear in Google searches!

Make sure every page has a unique title, a meta description, and is optimized for keyword usage. Follow the instructions of the plugin. Learn more about basic WordPress SEO here.

To change the permalink structure, go to Settings, and then click on Permalinks. You’ll see a couple of possibilities there. The best option is to use your post names in the URLs.

Google Search Console (GSC) should be a must-have item on your list. It will help you optimize your site SEO-wise and point you towards some of the issues with the structure of your site that you should address – to make both your visitors and Google happy.
More specifically, with GSC, you can learn about things such as: the health of your internal link structure, external links pointing to your site, any sitemap problems, your popular keywords, the indexing status of your site, any crawl stats and errors, security issues, and much more. A true goldmine.

Sitemap.xml is a file that lists all of your website’s URLs. Google uses this file to understand how your site is organized and what sort of information is there. As a result, it will be easier for Google to index everything.
To create a sitemap, all you have to do is install a plugin called Google XML Sitemaps. Just a few clicks and you’re good to go.

Submit a new sitemap.xml to Search Console so Google indexes you new site. Ensure that the new sitemap passes with now errors.
Clean up your SERP presence by choosing which pages appear on the search page for your brand. In Search Console, select Search Appearance > Sitelinks, then “demote” the URLs for any pages that you don’t want listed.
Check that any login areas are set to noindex, nofollow on the page and set to “disallow” in the sitemap.xml.

A robots.txt file also helps search engines to crawl your website more efficiently. You can learn more about this in Google’s guide on the subject. If you’re using Yoast SEO plugin, you can create (and later edit) your robots.txt file right from Yoast’s interface. Before you can access it, though, you need got to SEO → Tools and click on File editor. Then you’ll be able to edit the contents of your robots.txt file directly from the same interface.

It’s very important to have an identity, Google will appreciate that. To do it, go to your WordPress dashboard and then to Settings / General.

Accessibility is all about making sure your site is usable for everyone, even those with disabilities.

You can use a plugin like Complianz – GDPR/CCPA Cookie Consent.

Login to your dashboard and change your user passwords.
  • Use only safe passwords.
  • Store your password data with Bitwarden.

You have set up backups and store them somewhere other than on the server. Either you take a server backup in a regular basis or you can install a backup plugin.
Backup plugins will keep your site content in a safe place, in case anything bad ever happens and you need to restore your site to a previously working state. Backup plugins are truly invaluable!

There’s a lot of bad things that can happen to a WordPress site… Hacker attacks, malware, viruses, etc. Protecting your website from all that with a firewall of some kind is always a good idea. Sucuri is one of the best WordPress security services out here. It provides malware detection and cleanup, monitors your site for hacks, mitigates DDoS attacks, and more. For a free solution you can check Wordfence.

Google Analytics is a tracking and marketing tool that every website owner should use.
It tracks your audience and their actions on your site. It comes with detailed information about everything related to your site’s content and visitors, such as the most viewed pages, conversion rates, the number of visits per day, in-depth user profiles, bounce rates, and lots of other essential stats.
The tool is free and can be easily integrated with your WordPress site through an embed code provided by Google. Alternatively, you can use a plugin for this task.
Benchmark & Performance

Check that pages are compatible across devices (Android, iPhone, tablets). Make sure that CSS, HTML, and all scripts are properly validated and optimized. There are validation tools and optimization tools to help you.

As we have mentioned earlier you can run Lighthouse as a Google Chrome extension, from the command line, or as a Node module. Google Lighthouse, is a free Google tool that helps you improve the quality of webpages on your website and also check various mobile friendly aspects.

Another recommended step is to hook your site up to a CDN service (Content Delivery Network). A CDN is a solution that takes the content from your site and stores it on a network of servers around the world. Then, when a visitor comes to your site, they get served from the location that’s nearest to them. Hence, they can see your site much quicker than they would otherwise. Some of the most popular CDNs include: StackPath, CloudFlare, Amazon CloudFront. (If you want something free, it’s CloudFlare.)

Speed is one of the keys to keeping your visitors on the site. Who likes to wait for a page to load, right? No one!
In fact, if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of people abandon it, according to Kissmetrics.
How to avoid this? One solution is to install a caching plugin – to reduce the overall page loading times. There are free caching plugins out there, for instance W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
Caching is a fairly complicated process, but to simplify it a bit, it’s about fetching the dynamic output of a WordPress site, storing it in the cache, and then serving it to every new visitor from that cache, instead of asking WordPress to generate it anew. Doing it this way takes a lot less time.