But before you push that launch button, take a minute to think; are you REALLY ready to launch your website?
- Multiple rounds of quality assurance testing? CHECK!
- Cross browser and responsive testing? CHECK!
But is there something else you might have missed?
The items above are some of the more obvious steps a team may go through when preparing a site to launch, but there are some lesser known or sometimes forgotten steps that are just as important to take when launching a new website. So what do we also include in our pre-launch checklist?
- Set up redirects
- Check links: Absolute vs Relative
- Accessibility checks
- Decide what to do with your old site
- Decide who will maintain your new site
Set up redirects
Over the years you may have amassed a great deal of content on your old website, and chances are that in the course of creating your new website you’ve changed how that content is organized. This can lead to content revisions during the process of migrating that content to the new system. Any team that has gone through this process can tell you that it is a massive effort; even if you’re automating the migration of content in someway. During this flurry of activity in moving content from point A to point B, it’s easy to forget one simple matter: How will users find the same or similar content on the new website?
Creating Redirects ensures that users who arrive at the site via an outdated URL, say from a bookmark or external site, are automatically sent to the appropriate content. Setting up redirects is incredibly important to creating a solid User Experience and it’s good for SEO. Just about every URL on your old site should have a redirect if the URL has changed. This may seem like a herculean effort, but it actually pairs well with the process of moving content from the old to new website.
Check links: Absolute v. Relative
First off a brief explanation of Absolute versus Relative URLs. An Absolutely URL encompasses a URL in its entirety. ie: https://kanopi.com/about-us. A Relative URL is just the portion of the URL that occurs after the “.com” in the example above. ie. /about-us. In the course of preparing a new website by loading copy and uploading images, you most likely are working from a temporary Development URL. When the time comes to launch the new website, the Development URL will change. When the URL is changed, any links that are pointing to the Absolute Development URL will break. This is a common mistake, and one that can have disastrous results once your new website goes live.
As a general rule of thumb try to avoid Absolute URLs when loading content to any environment. This ensure that if the core URL ever changes, your links won’t break. Leading up to launch, try to work with your Developer to identify and rectify any Absolute URLs.
Accessibility was not exactly a top priority of early website development; as technology catches up, supporting users with impairments is becoming an ever increasing need for any modern website. Accessibility starts early on in a project’s planning, and should be discussed early and often. From Designs to Development there are many touch points where a project team can ensure that the site is compliant with standards.
But what if your site is about to go live and you haven’t considered this? Luckily there are tools like Site Improve that allow you to run automated tests to see where your site may need remediation before it can be compliant. Not only is it good for SEO, but making your site is accessible to the widest range of users ensures you reach a wider audience and that they have the best user experience possible.
Decide what to do with your old site
In the activity leading up to the launch of your new website, it’s easy to overlook this question. Regardless of how confident you are in the new website, it’s important to have a plan in place for what to do with your old website. Here are some important questions to consider when considering the fate of your old website:
Will you need to reference your old site at any point in the future? Perhaps you weren’t able to move all the content to the new site before launch or maybe there is old content that won’t be migrated, but you still need to reference it in the future. Whatever the reason may be if the answer to this question is yes, you’ll want to keep your site up in some capacity.
Can you afford to host two websites at the same time? This one is a little less straightforward; depending on the size, state, and makeup of your old website, you have options. From a budgetary standpoint, paying for a website that no one will really visit is probably not going to look all that great to accounting. The good news is that with no traffic visiting the old website you probably don’t need all that expensive infrastructure; many enterprise level hosting providers have a free tier that is great for storing a legacy site on.
Regardless of your situation, you can always find options. What’s most important is that you have a plan.
Decide who will maintain your new site
Building a website is a process; one that requires regular upkeep and ongoing maintenance. Understand that your website is a tool, and built right it should be designed to grow and adapt to the changing needs of your business. This is the philosophy we at Kanopi believe in, and try to instil in our projects. So with that in mind, it’s important to consider who will be responsible for ongoing improvements, maintenance, updates, and bug fixes when the times arise.
While not uncommon for teams to try to take this on internally, it’s important to consider if you have the right skill sets, let alone bandwidth for this to be a viable option. Another solution is to work with an agency like Kanopi to provide ongoing support for your site. An agency will have access to a wider range of expertise and ensures maximum flexibility for the future growth of your site.
Need a more in-depth checklist?
If you want more beyond this list, we do have a multi-page checklist you can download that goes into much more granular detail, covering everything from SEO to GDPR to accessibility, and so much more. You can download that checklist here.
Use our pre-launch checklist, and you’re good to launch!
These items may seem like big additions to your plate leading up to launch, but they pale in comparison to the what could occur if you leave them out. Plan for these pre-launch checklist items early on, and it will ensure your launch goes off with one less hitch. And contact us if you need help.