The Ultimate Pre-Launch Checklist for Your WordPress Website

A last and final check before launching your WordPress website

Checklist Pre-Launch Website
Image Source: skeeze – Pixabay.com / License: CC0 Public Domain

You’ve slaved for weeks. You’ve downed endless cups of coffee and maybe even pulled an all-nighter or two. And now your brand new WordPress website is complete. But before you take that site live, just how sure are you that it’s really ready for primetime?

The beauty of a pre-launch checklist, in a word, is certainty.

When you have a systematized list to go by, you never have to wonder, Did I get everything? Did I miss something? We’ve prepared a pre-launch checklist for WordPress websites for you. You can revise and adjust the list items so the checklist better fits your needs and workflow.

How to Use This Checklist

Each section of this list contains a number of related tasks, grouped by category (though sometimes, the categories are a little loose). The first three sections – Security, Analytics, and Legal/Compliance – apply to the site as a whole. The remaining sections apply to individual pages – here is an overview:

We recommend working your way through the site-wide tasks first in order, then tackling the remaining items on a page-by-page basis. Don’t forget to include pages that are created by WordPress operations (as opposed to those you actively created yourself), such as category pages and tag pages. Ready? Let’s begin!

Pre-Launch Checklist
Image Source: kaboompics – Pixabay.com / License: CC0 Public Domain

Security

  • First and foremost, backup the entire site and activate a plugin to make future backups, preferably on a regular basis. Configure the plugin to automatically send copies of the backup files to your Dropbox account or else to ensure that the backup is available in case you need it.
  • Create a duplicable version of the site to serve as a development site. Make any site changes there first, then roll out the changes to the actual site. This helps prevent problems that take the site down or make it less than usable when it’s live. Popular plugins like Updraft Plus or Cloner can help you make a clone of your WordPress site.
  • If you’ve installed a SSL certificate on your WordPress website, check to ensure SSL is operational via this SSL Checker tool or other tools for this purpose.
  • Install a plugin that provides monitoring services; configure and test notification settings.
  • Create any additional logins for the users on your website that you’ll need on launch, including secure usernames and passwords to prevent vulnerabilities.
  • Store passwords and other website credentials in a secure database.
  • Verify your installed versions of WordPress core files and plugins are the most recent; update where necessary to ensure maximum compatibility and to prevent vulnerabilities.
  • Test the speed of your site and make adjustments where prudent and possible.

Analytics

Analytics Plugins
Image Source: ariapsa – Pixabay.com / License: CC0 Public Domain
  • Create privacy and terms of use statements for your website. You can for example use the Auto Terms of Service and Privacy plugin to help generate this content, or model Automattic’s, which is published under a Creative Commons Sharealike license.
  • Check with a local attorney for laws that may be applicable to your site and any additional legal requirements you’ll be responsible for complying with, such as accessibility for visitors with disabilities and disclosures of cookie usage/storage.
  • Verify your site has secured necessary permissions, licenses, and/or rights for any purchased or borrowed code, images, and fonts to prevent legal risks.
  • Ensure your terms and privacy policies are visible to website visitors.
  • Check PCI compliance for any eCommerce site processing or credit-card storing functions.

Code Validity & Semantic Structure

  • Check code validity for both HTML and CSS, while keeping in mind that some validation errors can’t be prevented in modern webdesign. The validators often are not up-to-date to recent standards and some notices usually can’t be prevented, especially when it comes to CSS.
  • Check semantic HTML tags on your website and make sure you haven’t used a catch-all tag like <p> or <div> where another tag HTML5 is more descriptive and specific, such as <article>, <figcaption>, <footer>, <nav>, etc.

Now that you’ve taken care of the site-wide checklist items, it’s time to move on to reviewing each individual page (including category pages, etc.). Page by page, move down the rest of our checklist.

Design

  • Check each design element from the top of the page to the bottom, including layout, how elements respond to other elements and content, and any obstructions.
  • Narrow and maximize the browser window to various widths, and ensure each element responds accordingly for optimal compatibility with mobile devices or smaller screens.
Image Sizes
Image Source: pregip – Pixabay.com / License: CC0 Public Domain

Written Content

  • Double check grammar and spelling of all written content, top to bottom, including page copy, headings, widgets in the sidebar/footer, forms, etc.
  • Make sure no placeholder or lorem ipsum text has been left behind.
  • Check the formatting of your website content – e.g., does bolded text appear bolded? Do bulleted items have bullets? Does your content look attractive?
  • Click each link, from top to bottom, including navigation bar/menu links, to make sure they go to the right page/section and load correctly (e.g., in new vs. same tab/window, displayed tooltip or no, etc.) to ensure that your site navigation works accordingly.
  • Click the header image on your website and make sure it links to your home page.
  • You may also want to use a link crawling tool, such as the W3C Link Checker, the Chrome extension Check My Links or Screaming Frog, to ensure there are no broken links on the site.

Visual & Other Content

For each image, video, audio, or other kind of content on the page, visually verify that each file:

  • Displays in the right location on the page
  • Links correctly to the original image file, YouTube page, or other destination
  • Is not set to autoplay and works correctly, in the case of video and audio players
  • Has been properly attributed, licensed and paid for, if necessary based on the terms of the copyright holders (you may prefer this as part of the legal compliance section above)
  • Has accurate, descriptive alt tag text to ensure usability and better SEO
  • Is compressed (e.g., with tinypng.com or other image optimization plugins)

Branding

  • Check if the logo on your website is displaying correctly.
  • Verify color scheme/displays are consistent across major browsers.
  • Make sure your favicon works properly in all major browsers. (You can use this favicon plugin to generate all the required favicon formats for your WordPress website.)
  • Header/footer strips are correct, including copyright in footer with the current year.
Choosing WordPress Theme
(Image: simplu27 – Pixabay.com – CC0 Public Domain)

Social Media

  • Test the sharing functions for your content, including tagging and formulation of titles.
  • Check the links to social media profiles associated with the site.
  • Make sure any imported feeds are displayed correctly and are current/updated.

UX/UI & Integrations

  • Test and verify anything that’s integrated into the site, such as email subscription forms, imported feeds, eCommerce functions, maps, etc.
  • Test and verify receipt of messages sent through the contact form.
  • Verify if the contact information on your website is accurate.
  • Test all downloads in case you offer downloadable content on your WordPress website.
  • Test and verify importation of user information from lead generation forms into CRM system.
  • Check cross-browser compatibility. You can review W3 browser use statistics to see which browsers you should check first to save some time and effort. For this review you’ll want to look at the major visual elements on your website, such as the major text elements, layout, fonts, colors, gradients, images, and the logo.

SEO

For this final checklist section, verify each of the following are in place for each page on your site. This task usually can be taken care of by making use of SEO plugins on your WordPress website.

  • Title tags, with keywords (in front if possible), under 70 characters total.
  • Alt tags for every image on your website for better usability and SEO.
  • Meta descriptions with descriptive keywords, written in natural language for human readers, and under 160 characters total for best results in search engines.
  • Posts with featured images, tags, and categories assigned appropriately.
  • XML sitemap created and ready for submission to your Google Webmaster Tools.
  • 301 redirects working correctly, if applicable for your website.
  • Check URL permalink structure to make sure it reflects the way your site is organized, using appropriate keywords in the URL for best results in search engines.
  • Add rel="nofollow" links where appropriate to prevent Google penalties.
  • Check for mobile-friendliness of your WordPress website with Google’s tool.
  • Double check your robots.txt file and make sure pages are marked index or noindex appropriately. Google has an excellent guide with more information here.

We covered lots of things to check on here, and maybe not all of them apply to your WordPress website – but as mentioned in the beginning, you may adjust the list items to create a checklist which suits your requirements perfectly. Did we miss your favorite QA pre-launch step? What do you usually look out for before launching your website? Let us know in the comments below!

Share this with your friends

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


*