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10 things to check before going live with a new or re-designed website

Mar 29

Written by:
Tuesday, March 29, 2011  RssIcon

With the end in sight; the project brief signed, domain name bought, hosting setup, holding page live, visuals designed, framework installed, templates built, content written & published, images, flash, and videos in place, and a growing demand by the client for release to the public, it's important not to rush into things and launch a website too quickly without checking over a few important items first.

With the end in sight; the project brief signed, domain name bought, hosting setup, holding page live, visuals designed, framework installed, templates built, content written & published, images, flash, and videos in place, and a growing demand by the client for release to the public, it's important not to rush into things and launch a website too quickly without checking over a few important items first.

The web design process has a lot of contributing parts and it's easy to skip over fine details on the premise of coming back to, or looking over it later on. But things do fall through the gaps and so it pays to have checks in place that catch these.

10 things to check before launching a new website:

1. Validation and cross browser compatibility

Make sure the site passes the W3C Markup Validation Service (http://validator.w3.org/), and appears the same in IE6, IE7, IE8, FireFox, Safari, Opera, Flock, and Chrome.

2. Spelling and grammar
An easy one to do by running all the on-site and meta text through a spell checker. If the site is hand-coded, it's also a good idea to check the HTML for spelling mistakes.

3. links

Follow each link to make sure it works and connects to the appropriate destination, also check any links leaving the site are set to "open in a new window" with the target="_blank" HTML link attribute.

4. Forms
Submit all forms with dummy content to make sure the data is captured and sent to the correct email addresses.

5. Meta data and image alt tags

Check the meta title, description, and keywords on each page to ensure they are unique and relevant to the topic of their page, and that all image alt tags are descriptive where required.

6. Email addresses
Make sure that any email addresses included in the site, either as recipients for forms or within the content as text or links, exist and work.

7. 301 redirects and sitemap.xml files

If the website is a re-design; map the existing structure alongside the new pages and list any re-directs, ready to be implemented as soon as the site is launched. Also create an XML sitemap for submission to the search engines and Google Webmaster Tools.

8. Tracking
Make sure that any analytics code is present on all pages, and that the site is verified to work with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.

9. Server / DNS

Check that both the www.domainname.com and domainname.com work.

10. Favicon
Make sure there is a .ico favicon image present in the root directory of the site (this becomes the  little icon next to the web address in the browser window).

The first few days following a website launch are always the most apprehensive as this is the time where visitors become critics, and there's a good chance of receiving feedback on the work completed. By introducing a pre-launch routine to the web design process it helps to ensure more positive points than negative remarks are received, especially on easy to avoid topics such as spelling and cross browser compatibility.

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