Launching a WordPress site necessitates careful preparation and implementation, and this thorough WordPress Launch Checklist will provide direction through each step of the process. As an advanced-level professional, it is crucial to ensure that your website is fully optimized for both user experience and search engine visibility before making it live. In this post, we will delve into various aspects of launching a successful WordPress site.
WordPress Website Launch Checklist
To ensure a smooth launch of your WordPress site, it’s crucial to test all its functionalities beforehand. You wouldn’t want visitors to come across an unresponsive website on their first visit, as that could create a negative impression right off the bat. It’s recommended to complete this phase of your checklist at least four weeks before the launch date so that you have enough time to address any complex issues that may arise.
1. Install a WordPress Backup Option
Having a backup solution for your website is crucial. It acts as an insurance policy in case anything goes wrong, ensuring that you can always restore your site to its previous state. Luckily, there are numerous WordPress backup plugins available, some of which are free while others require payment. Setting up a plugin usually takes only a few minutes. When selecting a plugin, ensure that it automatically schedules backups and saves them to the cloud. Popular cloud storage options include Amazon S3, Google Drive, and Dropbox. We recommend using BackupBuddy.Installation of this backup system is simple, and it has the ability to store backups in multiple locations.
2. Set Up Your Security Plugins
After implementing a backup solution, it’s important to focus on enhancing the security of your website. By incorporating strong security protocols, you can further safeguard against potential attacks by hackers. Fortunately, there are numerous plugins available that can assist with this task.
3. Create a Custom 404 Page
If a website visitor ends up on a missing page or enters an incorrect URL, they might leave the site and look for information elsewhere. This can result in missed opportunities for your website. However, you can address this issue by setting up a 404 page before launching your WordPress site. This will allow you to engage with visitors who land on the missing page and guide them towards other areas of your site. SeedProd has developed a plugin specifically designed to create custom 404 pages that not only keep visitors engaged but also help you gather more leads. For instance, OptinMonster uses its own 404 page as an opportunity to grow its email list by offering a lead magnet to those who enter their email addresses.
4. Secure Your WordPress Admin
WordPress is undeniably one of the most widely used content management systems globally. However, its popularity also makes it a prime target for hackers. While many sites may never encounter security threats, it’s always wise to be prepared in case of an attack. To safeguard your site and prevent unauthorized access, you can install security plugins such as Sucuri Firewall. It functions like a personal home security system that keeps your website safe from potential cyber attacks.
5. Create a Coming Soon Page
Ensuring that you have a coming soon page is an important task on your WordPress website pre-launch checklist, especially if you are still working on the design and content. This page acts as a teaser for your site and keeps visitors informed about the upcoming launch. To create a coming soon page quickly and easily, it’s best to use a drag-and-drop theme and page builder plugin. This tool allows you to work privately behind the scenes while launching your page in just minutes. You can also add signup forms to grow your email list before the official launch date. Having an active coming soon page can even give you an advantage in Google rankings. With over 500,000 free background images available and more than 750 Google fonts to choose from, creating a stunning looking page has never been easier. Plus, there are many templates available so that even those without coding experience can create beautiful pages effortlessly.
6. Your Ecommerce Features Work
Ensuring that your website’s online store functions properly is crucial for the success of your business. If there are any broken elements or issues with the purchasing process, it could result in lost sales and revenue. For instance, a complicated returns policy can cause up to 80% of potential customers to abandon their shopping carts on your site. To avoid such scenarios, put yourself in the shoes of a customer and go through the entire buying process from adding items to cart to checkout. You may even want to test out an actual transaction to ensure everything runs smoothly. If you offer digital products, make sure they’re delivered promptly without any glitches. Additionally, double-check invoices, receipts, shipping fees and taxes that apply. WooCommerce users can utilize maintenance mode on shop pages while testing out new features or changes.
7. Your Forms Work Properly
In today’s digital age, contact forms have become a ubiquitous feature on most websites. These forms serve various purposes such as lead generation and subscription sign-ups. It is crucial to test the functionality of all your website’s forms before launching it on WordPress. It would be best if you focused not only on the design but also ensure that any data collected through these forms are stored correctly. Thankfully, WordPress has an in-built contact form block that simplifies adding a contact form to your site. You can store emails collected from this form either within WordPress or by integrating with Zapier or WPForms for external storage. Furthermore, it is essential to check whether your WordPress survey plugin is installed and working accurately to gather valuable customer feedback.
8. Your Site Functions in All Browsers
Although it would be ideal for all your website visitors to use the same browser, in reality, people have different preferences when browsing the web. Some still rely on older versions of popular browsers. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that your site displays and functions correctly across various browser types. To accomplish this task, you can take advantage of BrowserStack’s Browser Screenshots – a user-friendly and free web tool that allows you to test your site’s compatibility with different browsers. It also enables you to check how your site appears and works on mobile devices since an increasing number of users access the internet through their smartphones or tablets. Make sure that your website presents accurately on these platforms as well.
9. Your Themes and Plugins Are Up to Date
Ensuring that your WordPress version, themes, and plugins are always up-to-date is crucial to prevent any potential security breaches. Outdated software can easily be exploited by hackers who seek to take advantage of any vulnerabilities. However, you can rest assured that WordPress continuously works on updating any reported weaknesses in their software. Therefore, it’s essential to keep everything updated for the safety and protection of your website.
10. Your Site Is Accessible
Don’t forget to consider the accessibility of your website when launching it. Accessibility means making sure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can use your site. This includes visitors who may have visual or auditory impairments. It’s important to think about the structure of your website in terms of accessibility.
WordPress Website Checklist: SEO and Marketing
The following part of your WordPress launch checklist focuses on optimizing your site for search engines and marketing purposes. This is crucial in terms of making your site discoverable through search engines and promoting it across various platforms, such as social media.
11. Connect Your Site to Analytics
To ensure that your website is performing well, it’s important to track its performance before launching it. This will help you understand the number of visitors coming to your site, their source and the pages they spend most of their time on. When it comes to tracking data, Google Analytics is a popular choice for many websites. Fortunately, there are several plugins available for WordPress that can integrate with Google Analytics. One such plugin is MonsterInsights which simplifies the process of adding tracking codes to all pages and collecting data about search results and error pages. With this plugin, you can view real-time stats, track affiliate links and access analytics reports directly from the WordPress dashboard.
12. Set Up Meta Tags
Meta tags serve as a communication channel between WordPress and search engines such as Google. They function like a quick reference guide that enables search engine bots to gather information about your site’s content, authors, images, and other relevant details. While it may seem complicated, you don’t need any coding knowledge to accomplish this task. You can use All in One SEO plugins to add meta descriptions and more. It is worthwhile to invest time in assisting search engines with indexing and categorizing your web pages since this will ultimately lead to increased traffic on your website.
13. Optimize Page URLs for Search Engines
To ensure that your website is ready for launch, it’s important to optimize your page URLs. This involves creating URLs that are visually appealing, easy to comprehend, and optimized for search engines. By doing so, you’ll provide both users and search engines with valuable information about the content on your site.
An optimized URL would look something like this:
On the other hand, an unoptimized URL might look like this:
When it comes to naming your post pages in WordPress, it’s best to choose the right option before launching your site. Although you can change it later, doing so can be quite challenging. In your WordPress admin area, navigate to Settings » Permalinks and select from various options available for naming your post pages. For most websites, we suggest going with the Post Name option as it is uncomplicated and straightforward to comprehend. This way, you can keep things simple and easy-to-read for visitors on your website.
14. Use Alt Text in Your Images
Having an accessible website is crucial, and one way to ensure accessibility is by adding alt text to your images. Alt text not only supports features like screen readers but also plays a significant role in SEO. By providing descriptive alt text along with the Title tag, search engines can better understand how an image relates to the content on the page. This understanding can help improve your site’s visibility in search results and make it easier for users to find relevant content on your site.
15. Test Your Social Integrations
The launch of your website can greatly benefit from the use of social media. It is important to ensure that visitors have easy access to connect with your site on popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Additionally, it is crucial to check that any social plugins on your site are functioning properly. To maximize the potential of viral marketing before launching your website, we offer assistance in growing your social following by enabling visitors to share your content with their network. You may even incentivize them further through referral tracking, creating a cycle of sharing. Furthermore, our platform allows for seamless integration of social media content directly into WordPress using blocks for Twitter and Facebook. This includes embedding features such as timelines, feeds, posts, events and media from these platforms and more.
WordPress Launch Checklist: Content and Design
Ensuring the design and content of your site works flawlessly should feature towards the end of your WordPress website launch checklist. With important functionality and SEO tasks ticked off, it’s time to check everything looks and reads well before going live.
16. Your Site Is Responsive Across All Devices
As the number of people using mobile devices to access the internet continues to increase, it’s important to ensure that your website is optimized for different screen sizes and functions properly on various devices. Fortunately, if you’re using our page builder for your coming soon page, you don’t need to worry about this as it’s already designed to be 100% responsive and mobile-friendly. However, checking how your site appears on different devices is still a good idea. Google Chrome offers a Screen Resolution Tester extension that allows you to preview how your site will look on various screens through your browser. Another useful tool is Viewlike.us which provides feedback on the readability and usability of your site across different screen sizes. By utilizing these tools, you can ensure that visitors have a positive experience regardless of what device they use.
17. Your Site’s HTML and CSS Code Is Valid
Before launching your website, it’s crucial to ensure that your code is valid. The W3 Consortium offers a free online validator tool that checks for errors in HTML, CSS, XHTML, and XML code. Valid code is essential because it ensures that your site complies with the current standards used by major browsers. Neglecting to fix errors could lead to problems down the line if a newer browser version conflicts with an issue in your code. Furthermore, running your code through validation software can improve your site’s SEO. Some mistakes may cause certain parts of your site to go unindexed, meaning they won’t appear in search results. If you encounter any errors while using the validator tool, don’t worry too much; WordPress is regularly updated to adapt and change. As long as your site functions correctly and meets all of its requirements, there should be nothing else to worry about.
18. You’ve Site Has a Favicon
A favicon is a small icon that appears in the top left corner of a browser tab and also as a bookmark icon on desktop or mobile. Uploading a favicon to your WordPress site is usually an easy task, as most themes provide this option. You can do it via the WordPress Customizer, which allows you to preview the changes before publishing them, eliminating the need for additional plugins on your website.
19. There Are No Spelling and Grammar Errors
Having poor spelling and grammar on your website can have a significant impact on its success. Even though we all make mistakes, having more than one or two minor errors could result in losing the trust of your audience and affecting your business’s credibility. Fortunately, there are various tools and plugins available to help you correct any spelling mistakes. One such tool is Grammarly, an AI-powered grammar checking assistant that we highly recommend. Moreover, Grammarly isn’t limited to just WordPress websites. The convenient Chrome extension allows you to check for spelling and grammar errors in real-time while browsing the web, using Google Docs or even social media platforms.
20. You Have Content in All Areas
During the process of building your website, you might use temporary content as a placeholder with the intention to replace it later. Placeholder content can be beneficial while designing and developing your site, but it is important to ensure that all areas are filled in before launching. Unfortunately, there is no plugin available that can automatically detect missing content areas. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep track of which pages or sections have temporary content so they can be easily located and replaced. Additionally, consider having other members of your team or a beta user group review your site for any issues or missing information.
FAQs about WordPress Launch Checklist
Launching a WordPress website requires careful planning and attention to detail. It is important to set realistic deadlines, integrate Google Analytics, optimize for search engines and site speed, implement ongoing maintenance plans, and promote through social media and email marketing campaigns. These are all crucial steps in the process that should not be overlooked.
One important step is to set up Google Search Console and ensure website accessibility compliance. These considerations can help improve the website’s visibility and accessibility to users.
By following this comprehensive WordPress Launch Checklist, businesses can ensure their website is set up for success from day one. If you need help with your WordPress site, contact Amadeus Consulting today to get started on your next project!