80 things to check before, during, and after starting a website

Admit it, starting a new website is stressful – even for the most seasoned digital marketers.

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 can go very, very wrong. What if you forget to test an important data collection form and then generate a ton of new leads? Or worse, what if you forget to set up site redirects properly and get a message to those valuable search engine visitors that the page was not found?

Wouldn’t it be much easier to create a comprehensive website checklist each time you launch your site rather than worrying about what if? One that you can use for corporate websites, microsites, landing pages, and everything in between?

Fortunately, that’s exactly what we created. Read on to find out everything you need to do before, during, and after starting a website.

What to Do Before You Start Your Site Design

Whether this is your first website to be built from scratch or you’re doing a website redesign, there are a few steps you should take before hiring a web designer or diving into it yourself.

1. Analyze your previous website (if applicable).

To make good decisions, you first need to understand where you have been. That starts with your existing website, if you have one. Ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of a new design or an overhaul?
  • What has not yet been achieved with this existing site?
  • How will a new design serve the new organization?

The answers to these questions can help you identify your loopholes, which can then be helpful in goal setting for the new site.

2. Crawl your old site (if applicable) and document its structure.

With a crawling tool like Screaming Frog you can get an idea of ​​the existing structure, the pages and the assets of your website. This is a necessary step in creating your website development plan because you will have a more concrete idea of ​​what pages existed before, what redirects there are, and what the metadata is currently like.

3. Obtain benchmark data from your previous website (if applicable) and confirm the testing procedures.

In addition to comparing the performance of your new website versus the old one, you want to continue to identify gaps that will give you data-driven insights to support your new strategy.

You should also confirm the testing procedures. Soon you will start testing your website to make sure all the various components are working, everything is flowing, and there is a system in place for tracking bugs and improvements.

Instead of asking people to email their thoughts, use a form (like Google Forms) to streamline the feedback-gathering process. Then, hire one person to select the bugs to prioritize and filter all of the creative feedback you get through the form.

4. Identify your goals for the new design, how to achieve them, and how to measure success.

Once the blanks are completely filled in, you can begin creating your design goals. You can come to conclusions like:

  • The current site is unwieldy and we need ease of use.
  • The current site doesn’t look trendy anymore so we need a visual update.
  • The current website isn’t working so we need a more SEO friendly structure with better UX.

Whatever your goals, you should understand exactly how a new website will help you achieve them so that you can design the implementation accordingly.

5. List action items, roles, and responsibilities.

Create a project management checklist for the website. What content has to be written? Which calls for action have to be created?

Make a master list of the things you will need for your website and include deadlines for when they should be completed.

Then assign each action item to an individual or a team. It usually takes a lot of people to start a website: you have marketers writing the content; Designers who select images and set the overall look and feel; a technical team that does all of the back-end development. To ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there is no mix-up of roles, create a comprehensive plan of the responsibilities of each team or person.

A great way to do this is to use the DARCI model, which stands for Decision Maker (s), Accountable, Responsible, Consulted, Informed. It is a powerful tool to help anyone understand which person is responsible for carrying out which elements of the Action, which person (s) or group (s) to consult before making final decisions, and who needs to be consulted once in the final Decision made or action taken.

6. Prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Ask everyone involved in your website launch about their concerns about what could go wrong, then develop some backup plans of what to do if – not if – some of these things go wrong.

7. Choose a solid CMS.

If you’ve never started a website before, the long list below might intimidate you. It shouldn’t take too long to go through most of the aspects of this list, however – especially if you’ve built your website with a solid CMS.

A CMS, or content management system, often allows you to design a website from a ready-made template, optimize your content for SEO, and edit content after it’s published. If you’ve already built your website, you may already have some experience using a CMS.

However, if you’re still building a website, building your pages on a CMS that already does most of the work for you can make going through this checklist less time consuming.

For example, HubSpot’s CMS, which allows you to create and edit content, including landing pages and blog posts. Its features also allow you to organize, plan, track analytics and optimize your content for SEO.

Alternatively, you can also test CMS platforms such as WordPress, Wix or even Drupal.

8. Develop a consistent brand.

Decide on a consistent brand message and tone that you want to consistently present. This will make you look more legitimate, more believable, and more memorable.

  1. Understand your value proposition.
  2. Choose a mission statement, vision and slogan that represent that value as well as your brand identity.
  3. Choose colors and fonts that convey that identity well.
  4. Decide on the type of images you will use to get your message across.

9. Create your technical SEO strategy.

Take some time to make sure your website has a solid foundation for SEO success. From site architecture and content hierarchy to metadata and XML sitemaps, leave no stone unturned.

  1. Do some keyword research and decide what you want to rank for.
  2. Create a content strategy that meets these keywords.
  3. Understand how your existing pages can be customized (if applicable) and which pages need to be recreated.
  4. Find out which pages are no longer needed.
  5. Determine where unnecessary pages can be redirected (using a 301 redirect).

10. Plan your conversion paths.

Once you are familiar with the primary pages of your website, you need to figure out exactly what actions you want users to take and how to collect their information. This includes thinking through:

  • Which premium top-of-the-funnel offers are needed
  • Which bottom-of-the-funnel action is presented on the main pages
  • Which forms need to be created
  • Which landing pages and thank you pages need to be created
  • How conversions are tracked
  • Which actions are carried out after the conversion of a website visitor (email responder, etc.)

11. Set up analysis software.

  1. Choose which analytics platforms you will use on the new website.
  2. Decide if previous analytics tracking scripts will be used or if new accounts / scripts will be needed.
  3. Set up new accounts (if applicable).

12. Set a start date.

Once you have an idea of ​​what needs to be done before you start, choose a start date. Give yourself at least a month. Most agencies plan two to three months for research, design, and development.

What to Check After Creating Your Site

Now that you’ve decided on a CMS and created a website that you’re ready to launch, here’s a list of 80 things to check out before, during, and after it’s release. Feel free to copy, edit, and create your own software based on the software you use to start and host your website.

Don’t have time to check all 80? Here is a list of the main highlights from each section:

Website launch checklist

  1. Make sure the text is correct and free of errors.
  2. Replace all placeholder images with final images and designs.
  3. Make sure the text matches the new brand.
  4. Check that all style settings have been implemented.
  5. Make sure your design is aesthetically pleasing.
  6. Make sure that the rights to images, fonts, and other content have been properly licensed or cited.
  7. Test the site for user experience (UX).
  8. Check that the conversion paths have been implemented correctly.
  9. Create your site backup strategy.
  10. Store passwords and credentials in a safe place.
  11. Audit technical SEO implementation for errors.
  12. Test the website again for usability.
  13. Test the functionality of your conversion path.
  14. Verify that the integrations with third-party tools are working smoothly.
  15. Make a copy of the final website for backup purposes.
  16. Make sure the backups are running properly.
  17. Make sure your website is secure.
  18. Comply with all applicable laws.
  19. Crawl the website to make sure there are no errors starting.
  20. Check the technical SEO components for errors.
  21. Optimize your metadata.
  22. Set up analytics.
  23. Build anticipation with teasers before the site goes live.
  24. Create a social media strategy for the announcement.
  25. Identify exciting ways to drive engagement for the new website.
  26. Send an email to your existing database.
  27. Promote the launch for a month.

We have grouped elements based on pre-launch and post-launch to ensure that page content, design, functionality, SEO, branding, analytics, security and compliance are all considered. Read on to make sure you don’t forget anything before your next start.

Checklist before starting the website

Before you start, it is important to use a fine-tooth comb to check all of your website’s content. That means page content, of course, but don’t forget your premium content either. From data-driven content and downloadable documents to rich media like videos and pictures, you want to make sure everything is there, working properly, and looking beautiful.

It’s important to note: you should set up a staging site to prepare your new website before it goes live. Staging sites are exact copies of your website on a private server that are used to prepare and review content and code changes before going live. The staging site is a place to edit and play around with updates in an environment almost identical to what will be live. That way, you don’t have to worry about your website crashing or screwing up when you make a change.

Later, you synchronize content and templates between the staging environment and your live website via your content management system (CMS). If you are a HubSpot customer with the website platform, you will find that a staging environment is built right into the software. It allows you to generate a preview url of the entire site so you can click around and test things in context.

1. Make sure the text is correct and free of errors.

  • The content of the website has been checked for spelling and grammar.
  • The company’s contact details are correct throughout the website.
  • Generic content like Lorem ipsum has been properly removed and replaced.
  • All premium content such as case studies, e-books and white papers have been proofread. The spelling and grammar are correct.
  • Copyright date (possibly in the footer) includes the current year.

2. Replace all placeholder images with final images and designs.

Occasionally, a website designer can use a placeholder image if they didn’t have the correct asset at the time the page was created. It’s up to you to make sure that every page is picture-perfect.

3. Make sure the copy matches the new brand.

  • The text has been copied to ensure a consistent brand voice and style.
  • All of the company’s slogans and mission statements are up to date.

4. Verify that all style settings have been implemented.

  • Paragraphs, headings, lists, and other formatting are correct.
  • Brand colors have been implemented correctly, including link and button colors.

5. Make sure that your design is aesthetically pleasing.

  • Scripts are optimized across websites.
  • Images are optimized via websites.
  • CSS is optimized for all websites.

6. Ensure that the rights to images, fonts, and other content are properly licensed or cited.

Even if you’ve outsourced the design to a web designer / developer, the responsibility is yours to make sure there aren’t any copyright licensing issues. Otherwise, you could expect a violent breach of contract settlement.

7. Test the site for user experience (UX).

  • Website pages are compatible across browsers.
  • Website pages are compatible across devices.
  • Pictures, videos and audio files are in the right places, are formatted and work on all devices.
  • All premium content such as case studies, e-books and white papers are stored in their respective libraries / databases and function properly.
  • Internal links on web pages work properly.
  • Social media sharing icons are associated with the correct accounts.
  • The company logo is linked to the homepage.

8. Check that the conversion paths have been implemented correctly.

  • All the necessary forms are available.
  • Landing pages and thank you pages have been implemented.
  • The right buttons and calls to action (CTAs) are in the right places.
  • Everything is properly linked.

9. Create your site backup strategy.

You can prevent data loss and protect yourself from malware and other damage by properly setting up site security and regular backups. Check this:

  • Backup schedule has been created.
  • Backup location has been identified.
  • A plan for implementation should be initiated after the start.

10. Keep passwords and login information in a safe place.

Up until that point, there were likely many people involved in launching the website. Therefore, make sure that the passwords are reset in due course and that the correct password label is followed.

11. Check the technical SEO implementation for errors.

  • Pages have unique page titles.
  • Pages have unique meta descriptions.
  • Each page has a specific purpose, and pages that are designed to rank organically are optimized around a single keyword or a set of keywords.

12. Perform a stress test.

A typical website redesign might not require 100% stress testing as the spike in traffic might not overwhelm the capacity of your server. However, a stress test (also known as a stress test) is a must for any company that is planning a large number of visitors at certain times – for example on holidays or after a major press event. It helps you find out how much simultaneous traffic your website can handle by simulating up to tens of thousands of simultaneous virtual users from different locations around the world.

While stress tests simulate virtual users, the test won’t fully replicate a real-world scenario – so you should find a test that gets you as close to reality as possible. Ask a developer which load tests they recommend. Here at HubSpot, a lot of our developers use Apache’s JMeter, but this is a pretty technical tool that isn’t ideal for someone new to the concept.

Let your host or provider know that you want to run a stress test before you actually run it. Otherwise, your test could look like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on your provider. Many providers (including HubSpot) consider an unauthorized load test to be a violation of the Terms of Service.

The user experience is an important aspect of how you view your business. So if you test your website before it goes live, you can be sure that visitors will not be immediately dissatisfied with your offers.

Checklist after launching the website

Let’s say you did it. The button has been pressed, the domain points to the new site and you are about to tell the world …

But just wait a second because now you have to check that your site is officially live.

13. Test the site again for usability.

In the event that there was a problem implementing it, make sure the experience matches what you checked before going live.

  • Make sure your design is rendered as you expected in all browsers.
  • Make sure your design is rendered the way you expected it to be on all devices.
  • Make sure CSS / HTML is properly validated.
  • CSS styling is rendered correctly.
  • Favicon is installed and rendering properly.
  • Internal links on web pages work properly.
  • External links on web pages work properly and open in a new tab.
  • Social media sharing icons are working correctly.
  • Feeds work perfectly (RSS, news, social media).
  • The company logo is linked to the homepage.
  • 404 redirect pages are available (page-not-found.aspx).

14. Test the functionality of your conversion path.

Take some time to test and validate all of the different features on your website. Lead generation forms, CRM integration, and any other technology should work just fine on your website.

  • Forms transmit data properly.
  • Thank you message or page appears after the form is submitted.
  • Form data is sent to a recipient by email and / or stored in a company database.
  • Autoresponders are working properly (if applicable).

15. Verify that the integrations with third-party tools are working properly.

Integrations like your CRM, your e-commerce software and / or your marketing platform link to your site and help you run your business. If there’s a potential problem that can lead to data loss, you don’t want to find out the way afterwards.

16. Make a copy of the final website for backup purposes.

Now that everything is in place and complete, you want to have a pristine copy of it in case you discover any data corruption or loss.

17. Make sure that the backups run correctly.

Now is the time to review your backup strategy. Check that copies of the website are made and saved on a regular basis.

18. Make sure your site is secure.

  • 24/7 monitoring scripts are installed.
  • There is a plan for updating plugins (if applicable).
  • Make sure all concerned parties are aware of your company’s password label policy.
  • If necessary, purchase an SSL certificate. It takes up to two weeks to purchase and set up an SSL certificate. So make sure you have it before introducing it. (An SSL certificate ensures that your website is encrypted so that hackers cannot intercept your data. This not only calms your website visitors but also improves the SEO of your website as SSL is now part of the Google search ranking algorithm. )

19. Comply with all applicable laws.

Make sure your website complies with all applicable laws and regulations. Internet laws can be sticky, and every industry has its own set of rules to follow. So it is best to consult your legal advisor to make sure you don’t miss out on anything – this post is not legal advice. Here are a few you might want to know:

  • Websites offer accessibility for users with disabilities (WAI-ARIA).
  • Websites indicate whether the website uses cookies (required in some countries).
  • The website complies with the rights of use for any code, images and fonts purchased or borrowed.
  • Terms and conditions and data protection guidelines are visible to website visitors.
  • The website is PCI compliant (if you store and process credit cards).

20. Crawl the site to make sure there were no startup errors.

Compare the crawl to the previous crawl and see if you can find any inconsistencies that were not intended. Also, make sure that all pages have the correct search engine indexing settings.

You should also check the formatting consistency. Sometimes font codes are accidentally placed on a page, so be sure to search your website for these weird formatting errors. Make sure that all of your formatting is consistent and that there are no weird errors in your copy.

21. Check the SEO technical components for errors.

  • Page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs are all there and in line with the original technical SEO strategy.
  • The loading time for site pages is optimized.
  • A dynamic XML sitemap was created.
  • The XML sitemap has been submitted to search engines.
  • Page URLs consistently reflect the information architecture of the website.
  • 301 redirects exist for all old URLs (redirection from old to new pages).
  • rel = “nofollow” tags are available on corresponding links and pages.
  • Images on the website are properly compressed (which helps with load time).

22. Optimize your metadata.

  • Metadata is properly present for all content in an RSS feed.
  • Metadata is properly in place for all social media sharing content.
  • The spelling and grammar are correct in all metadata.
  • Alt tags were added to each image.

23. Set up analytics.

Make sure your website is set up to collect web data and analytics. This valuable information enables you to continuously improve your website in the future so that you do not want to forget these things.

  • Your website analysis codes and tracking scripts have been added to the website.
  • Relevant IP addresses have been excluded from analytics tracking.
  • Funnels and goals have been properly created in your analytics software (if applicable).
  • Google Webmaster and Google Analytics accounts have been properly synced.
  • Google Ads accounts were synced correctly (if applicable).

24. Start an improvement list after starting.

The website you are launching should be functional, well designed, and well positioned. But it probably won’t be everything you hoped and dreamed of the first time – and you certainly don’t want to spend months of effort creating a website that people may not respond well to. What if your customer doesn’t like it? What if conversion rates drop? This can lead to lost money and effort.

Instead, it’s best to publish a solid website, then test it, and build on it an approach to website building known as growth-oriented design. Create a document that lists all of the things you can’t do yourself to get started but want to add in the future, and add features and elements as you learn more about how people are interacting with the site. You can do this with one of these user testing tools.

How do you announce the launch of a new website?

This was (hopefully) not a vanity project; You have done all of this work so far for the benefit of your website visitors, prospects, and existing customers. Your next step is to tell the world about your new website design. Here’s how:

25. Build anticipation with teasers before the site goes live.

Launching a new product, launching a new movie, and – yes – launching a new website all require marketing prior to actual release. Think about the last movie you saw in the cinema. Did you see the trailer before you decided to buy movie tickets and popcorn?

Teasers for your website launch can only help add excitement and make users wonder what the new experience will be like. This can generate excitement and interest by the time you finally get the news.

26. Create a social media strategy for the announcement.

Decide which channels you want to promote the news on, how you want to make the announcement, and how long you want the promotion to last.

As you design your messaging, remember to focus on new features and how they will benefit your audience.

27. Identify exciting ways to drive engagement for the new website.

For users who aren’t that interested in your brand, launching a new website doesn’t seem like a big deal. So your goal is to make it one. Offer an exclusive offer to the first users to visit the site. Or create a competition that encourages interaction with the website’s new features. Whatever you choose, make sure it is fun and interesting.

28. Send an email to your existing database.

You may want to let existing leads and customers know about the new design, especially if it creates confusion the next time they visit. You can get the message across as a courtesy, but you can also sneak around to show the value you offer.

You can also make everyone involved aware of the redesign and ask them to publicize the new website.

29. Continue promoting the introduction for a month.

Just because you post on social media about your new website once doesn’t mean your audience will drop everything to visit the website in droves. Make your launch a big deal and keep the new functionality in mind so that your audience will be encouraged to try it out multiple times.

(Remember to resubmit your XML sitemap to all of the major search engines after you launch your website when you’re done.)

Resources to start your first website

Starting a new website can be a tedious task, but you can take some stress off using this comprehensive website startup checklist.

If you’re just getting started on your first website, here are some tools to help you streamline your process

  • CMS: Wie oben erwähnt, kann Ihnen ein CMS dabei helfen, Ihre Website zu entwerfen, Inhalte zu optimieren und zu veröffentlichen und Ihre Analysen nach dem Start zu verfolgen. Wenn Sie einige CMS-Optionen testen möchten, sollten Sie zunächst unsere 14-tägige kostenlose CMS-Testversion ausprobieren.
  • Blogging-Anleitungen: Wenn Sie daran interessiert sind, auf Ihrer Website einen Blog zu veröffentlichen, der Ihnen helfen könnte, die Markenbekanntheit zu steigern, kann es hilfreich sein, Brainstorming-Themen zu beginnen. Hier ist eine großartige Anleitung, wie Sie ein besserer Blogger werden, mit Tipps von unserem Team.
  • Landingpage-Vorlagen: Eine Landing Page ist eine großartige Möglichkeit, ein Produkt oder eine Ressource hervorzuheben, die Ihre Marke anbietet. Es ist wichtig zu wissen, welche Elemente zu einer Zielseite führen, die konvertiert wird. Hier ist eine Anleitung mit Beispielen. Wenn Sie ein CMS wie das von HubSpot verwenden, können Sie außerdem Zielseiten aus vorgefertigten Vorlagen erstellen.

Anmerkung der Redaktion: Dieser Blogbeitrag wurde ursprünglich im August 2014 veröffentlicht, wurde jedoch im Juni 2021 aus Gründen der Vollständigkeit und Aktualität aktualisiert.

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