11 SITE ESSENTIALS YOU MUST CHECK BEFORE PUBLISHING

You have a fully-designed website, the CMS works great, you’ve added content, and the client is happy. And, it’s time to take it live.

Or… is it?

When you’re launching a website, you can forget quite a few things in your eagerness to make it live.

Launching your website is a bit like making homemade soup. You have a lot of ingredients that should come together, and before you’re done with all, you sample it, to make sure you have everything right. And this last step is often what gets ignored before you launch your website.

You have most likely heard of TETO – Test Early, Test Often. This applies not only after launch, but pre-launch as well. Freelancers often end up designing the initial website for the client, which is wrong. The website should be designed for the user instead, and bring them into the process.

Testing your website after launch isn’t effective. You have most likely already lost potential revenue, and lost a chance at building a relationship with your user as well.

You can get real-time data through websites like ClickTale and CrazyEgg, but this can also waste your time in launching the product. Instead, test before launch, and save a lot of time by actually seeing whether what you’ve created is in line with what the user needs and wants.

1. BROWSER COMPATIBILITY

This is one of the most important things you should cover when testing, checking whether your site works well with all major browsers.

For example, it may look and work great on something modern like Google Chrome, but it may not be as good on an older browser.

Make sure to test it on every browser and platform possible, including tablets and mobile devices.

2. CONTENT

Gather a small team, and go over the whole content. Make sure everything is right, as good content is the cornerstone of a good site.

SPELLING

Check it again and again. Do a spell check, and get others involved. You can’t have enough people looking and making sure everything is correct.

Grammatical errors are to be looked out for, just like checking for orphaned words in important paragraphs.

COPY

The real copy should be in place, and all placeholder text should be removed. It doesn’t get much worse than seeing lorem ipsum in your “About us” section.

CONTACT DETAILS

You must make sure these are correct. How do you want people to get in touch if they aren’t?

Check phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and test if they’re working.

3. LEGAL

COPYRIGHT

If you plan on using a date in the copyright info, make it automatically refresh from the server’s time stamp, and make sure the copyright owner is correct.

TERMS

If you’re providing a service, or are involved in any kind of promotion, you should have terms that are clearly written for visitors to read.

If you aren’t sure, consult a lawyer. You should make sure to make them as clear as possible, and avoid legal jargon.

PRIVACY

If you’re using cookies, and capturing or distributing data, you really need a privacy policy. Keep it simple, and be clear on what you collect, and also provide details on how you can be contacted for further information.

4. FORMS

These are among the most important elements on your website.

They help your business capture leads and build a list of potential customers that are interested in the company. Before you launch, check your forms for the following things:

  • Relevance – does the form belong where it is? Does the offered incentive, such as a contact form, complement the content on the page?
  • Clarity – are the instructions easy to understand?
  • Brevity – are you only asking the essential information? Every field you add increases the chances of people not converting. You can always ask for information later on if you need it.
  • Functionality – does the information collected by the form go to the right place in your company or organization?
  • Finality – when the user has completed the form, can they successfully access the incentive offered? Is the asset correct, in regards to what was promised in the header and instructions?

5. LINKS

You can’t just go and assume your links work. You should check them by clicking on them. You may forget to add “https://” to links of an external website. Make sure you have your logo linked to your homepage, this is pretty common.

Think about how the links work as well. Will new users understand right away that they’re links? They need to stand out from the other text on the page.

If a text isn’t a link, don’t underline it, because it is confusing. And, what happens to a link if a user has already visited it?

6. FONTS

Font codes may get dropped into a page by accident, and result in text looking funny.

Make sure the formatting is consistent, and look for oddities in the copy.

7. IMAGES

Make sure when that when you hover over the image, the display text renders, this is the alt attribute. The images should display correctly.

Do you have images that are larger than 120KB? If you do, see if you have a good reason for that. You really only need around 72dpi for web images as far as quality goes. If they’re already at 72 dpi, save them for web. Optimize the heck out of them.

8. TRAFFIC LOAD

Think about what happens with your website if you have a lot of heavy traffic.

You can get load test tools that let you simulate a heavy load, and this is a must if you’re expecting big crowds.

9. SEO

Search engine optimization will help you rank in search results. If you have missing elements, such as title tags, meta descriptions, as well as keywords, you’re missing out on a lot of organic search traffic.

Keyword research is important before you start on your web project, and you should implement these things into the process of design and development. This will let you create content that focuses on appropriate keywords.

SEO is a pretty complex subject matter, but there are a few essentials to remember, such as making sure all your pages have a title tag, meta description, and a focus keyword. You should also go with plenty of internal links between pages.

10. CUSTOM 404

The 404 page is the most commonly overlooked defensive design element. If a user goes to a page that doesn’t exist, this is the page that gets displayed.

This may happen for a lot of reasons, such as another website linking to a page that doesn’t really exist.

You should get your users back on track by giving them a useful 404 page, that gets them back to the home page or suggests other pages that they might be interested in.

11. HAVE A BACKUP

If your website is running off a database, you must have a backup strategy. Or, you will eventually regret not having one.