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12 Critical Things to Do Before Making Your Website Live

A new website is exciting.

Colors to choose and logos to design.

Customers to plan for and content to create.

But how do you know when it’s time to really let that website go live?

The timing is easily different for different businesses, but one thing is certain – you never want to let your site go live before you’ve checked some critical items off the list.

Make a list before digging in.

Check List

Check List

Before you get too involved in your website design, you had best have a list of things you need to do. The excitement of the new website can very easily overshadow all of the details that you need to do that aren’t quite as exciting.

Make a list of items that are necessary to be successful with your new business ranging from registering the domain name to ordering the champagne for the launch party. Then start crossing things off the list, using your plans to guide your attention and focus.

Focus on content.

Focus on Content

Focus on Content

There are many aspects to a website, and some are definitely more fun than others. Designing a logo and letterhead and absolutely worthwhile, but you should spend as much time – if not more – working on the words and images on your website as you do the design and the name of it.

Often the coding, colors and designs take center stage in the website design process and the copy gets pushed farther down the list of priorities. While the content may be one of the last things developed, it should be one of the highest quality things on your site – not something you slapped together to fill a page you spend quite a bit of time and money developing.

Prepare for the worst case… and the best case.

Prepare for Worst Case

Prepare for Worst Case

What is your plan if your website is so popular you get millions of visitors in a short amount of time? What happens if it crashes? Who is in charge of monitoring the traffic and checking for errors and concerns? You should have a plan in place before the site goes live to deal with any issues that arise.

Think of this as a sort of fire drill. Who grabs the fire extinguisher and who calls the police? Your team should have jobs if an emergency does happen with your site to ensure it is off-line for the absolute least amount of time possible. While emergencies happen at bad times, they can happen at the best of times as well if your site buckles under the sheer weight of the traffic arriving. Plan for that contingency as well.

Use a staging site for planning and development.

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

As you are building the different components of the website, it shouldn’t be live. When you make your website live for the first time it should be absolutely perfect. All tests should be finished, all content created and all images quality-controlled.

You do all of this testing in a staging site that exactly mimics your own website. This allows your team to place things, move things and test things in a risk-free environment. Setting up a staging site is easy on a private server. When you’re ready to make it live, you’ll simply push the final product you’ve created onto your new domain name and you’ll be ready to go.

Check your load speed.

load

load

On the internet, load speed is one of the big anchors that can hold you back or even sink you. If you have a beautiful site that takes forever to load, nobody is going to stick around to see what you’re trying to say. Focus on reducing your loading times and use as many tricks as you can to improve them – powerful servers, smaller images, whatever it takes.

Compress your images.

Images are huge on websites in every sense of the word. Customers like seeing images and they enjoy being able to add their own to certain websites. Those same images that are so hugely popular are also hugely sized.

Images are easily one of the heaviest things on a website, but that doesn’t mean you should cut them all out of the site. People like looking at them, so you just need to compress the images to make them as small as possible while maintaining the look you’re going for.

You don’t need absolute clarity on a website image – unless you’re selling images, perhaps. Instead compress all of your images to take up as little space as possible and help those sites load quickly.

Optimize for mobile.

Optimize for mobile

Optimize for mobile

Roughly half of all internet use is done through mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re losing customers. Fortunately finding designs that are both desktop and mobile popular isn’t hard at all, and it’s often simply a matter of starting with the right design idea when you first begin your website build.

If you’ve managed to make a website without accounting for mobile users, it is a mistake that will need to be corrected as quickly as possible to maximize your impact and profits.

Check that your XML sitemap is on the server.

Your XML sitemap is created as a copy of your site code. It lives on the server and lists all of the URLS that are relevant to your shiny new website. This sitemap is a significant feature for website optimization because it allows web crawlers to find and determine the structure of your website.

Once they have found the XML sitemap, the crawlers can find all of the relevant parts of your website, crawl it correctly and rank those pages appropriately.

Become a customer.

Customer

Customer

Your website should not go anywhere close to live until you’ve had a chance to act as a customer. Log onto your website in the test environment and go through the steps to order whatever it is you’re ordering. Check that the site does what it is supposed to do, that the order forms are in good shape and that the item ordered is registered correctly in the back office.

You aren’t completed with this process until you’ve ordered the item, checked to see that the item ships correctly, the payment is recorded appropriately and the item is delivered as expected. If there are any hiccups in the process, it is certainly not time for a launch. This is the most critical part of the site, after all.

Proofread.

Proofread

Proofread

When you think you’re finished with the website, close it up and go to bed. Then, in the morning with fresh eyes, start reading. Look for typos, misspellings, awkward sentences and phrases and unbalanced phrasing. When you finish looking through the site, have others do the same.

The more eyes you have reading through every word of your content, the more likely you are to catch the mistakes that will become a huge turn off for your customers when they notice the typo or the punctuation error. Your best editors are those who have not had any hand in creating the content itself – they are unbiased.

Check your links.

Sometimes developing a website takes a few days. Sometimes it takes months. Regardless of how long it take for your team to put the site together, it takes only a moment for a link to stop working. If you have outbound links on your website (and who doesn’t) you need to be sure to check those links periodically.

Spend a few minutes clicking on all of the links, noting where they are going and if they are still valid. This is especially important if you have rearranged pages and repurposed old content on the new site. While you’re focusing on links, you’ll also want to be sure that you have a 404 Error page set up in case you do run into a link issue in the future.

Confirm your SSL Certificate

SSL

SSL

Something that may have escaped your attention, but definitely shouldn’t, is your SSL certificate. The SSL certificate ensures your website is secured and protected from hackers and gives your visitors that extra level of security.

The SSL certificate is also now a part of Google’s SEO algorithm, so there is an even greater incentive to go those few extra steps to be sure that your site includes an SSL certification. If your website does not, purchase one and install it correctly. This process can take up to two weeks, so be sure that you take care of this task well in advance of your launch date.

Your website is at the least and extension of your business, and at the most the business in its entirety. Why jeopardize your livelihood and reputation by rushing such a critical process?

Oleg

Oleg Calugher is your Fellow Blogger and Co-founder of Guest Crew. Catch him on Twitter.

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Comments

43 Comments on “12 Critical Things to Do Before Making Your Website Live”

  1. Also make sure you double-check your robots.txt file in case it was preventing the bots from spidering your site!

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Martin,

      Welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,

      Surely, Robots.txt and .htaccess should be monitored from time to time, make sure everything is all right,

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  2. Varun says:

    Great tips. Another important piece is using webmaster tools of search engines like Google and Bing to ensure that they can read your content properly. I have faced issues where because of a faulty WordPress theme, the search engines weren’t able to read and index my site properly.

    • Oleg says:

      Hey Varun,

      welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,

      Yes, the webmaster sections of various search engines offers plenty of features that are important for our site.

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  3. Hey Amar,

    One question regardin SSL- what if my website is just informational website…and i am not asking for customer information or anything…do we still need SSL?

    • Oleg says:

      Hey Promil,

      Welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,

      SSL helps in SEO, if you have the SSL configured for your entire site that covers your content pages then it will help you to rank higher. That in itself is a very important reason why you should go for the SSL.

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  4. Hi Oleg,

    The content note is huge! Build your new site on content. Before you go live have helpful, relevant content lined up and ready to go to make a positive impact from Day 1.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Ryan,

      welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,

      Yeah, always good to have some content – that way, whoever visits the site has plenty to consume from the first visit.

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  5. Joy Healey says:

    Hi Oleg,

    That’s a really helpful list. I especially like the idea of being a customer on your site – or even better getting someone who doesn’t know it to be a customer.

    Another important thing that I missed doing was making sure I had a backup. I made the mistake of assuming the hosting company was making backups (this was a WordPress site). They weren’t. As I found out when my site got hacked. Oops.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Joy,

      thank you for the comment,

      Yeah, being a customer and going through the check-out route yourself is a great way to find out customer experience issues.

      About the backups, yes – I totally agree with you. Having a backup locally can help a lot. Even better if you make regular backups because you will never know if your last backup files are valid and in usable condition.

      Thanks,
      – Oleg

  6. Hello Oleg
    Great post! It was insightful and very informative. And I most definitely agree with you as far as having plenty of that engaging content ready for your audience. Thanks for this short but value-packed post that will definitely enhance any bloggers launch.

  7. Ugyen Dorji says:

    Hi Oleg,
    Many newbie bloggers including me, never consider those things that you have mentioned. Instead, we directly make it live for overcoming our patience. But seriously blogging is a test for our patience.
    I found out very useful, a powerful checklist and must 12 critical things to do before making our website live. Google keeps on changing, and you have mentioned about the latest google algorithm, which is a great idea……
    Thanks for this great information….

    Have a nice day…..

    Ugyen

  8. Mark says:

    Thank you for sharing your 12 excellent tips and advice Oleg!

    Your excellent post, has reminded us, we it definitely takes a team,
    in order to create, true long term success.

    You’ve raised several meaningful and extremely points and issues, we not only
    have to stay mindful of, but constantly pay attention to.

    As it relates to successfully launching a website.Thanks!

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Mark,

      thank you for the comment,

      Launch is always critical, if done properly – a new site won’t remain new anymore and it will have all the activity of an established site.

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  9. Good Morning! What an awesome list, All 12 tips are all spot on, I do believe in making lists for everything and was happy to see this as #1.. For me!! Without a list… Nothing gets done..

    Great share
    Thanks
    Chery :))

  10. Umesh Singh says:

    Hi Oleg,

    Awesome post! You have mentioned almost everything which everyone should consider while designing a new website. We should make a perfect plan that covers almost everything that required and should re-read two to tree times before you start working.

    Thanks,
    Umesh Singh

    • Oleg says:

      Hey Umesh,

      Welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,
      Glad to know that you liked the post,

      Yeah, planning is important, that is how you know exactly what to do and how to implement it,

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  11. Hi Oleg,

    Thanks for sharing the detailed information about website creation. I am a new blogger and i have not read all tips you provided before.
    I will keep in mind all the tips while creating my blog or website.

    Again A big thanks.

    Regards
    Mona

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Mona,

      welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,
      Glad to know that you liked the tips, everyone starts new and some day you will be a popular blogger too,

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  12. Hi Oleg, great Post. I’m just hosting with mocha, but this blog offers a lot of tutorials and guides that I haven’t see there. Keep like this. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oleg says:

      Hi,

      Welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,
      Please do let us know your name so that we can attribute you better,

      Glad to know that you liked the post,

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  13. Osho says:

    Hi Oleg,

    You’ve done a great job by compiling great check-list before making a website/blog live. I’ve bookmarked this page so that I could refer it later.

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Osho,

      welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,
      Glad to know that you liked the list, it is always better to have a check-list – that way you know exactly what you need to do.

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  14. Ugyen Dorji says:

    Hi Oleg,
    Seriously I wished I have read this post before publishing my Blogs. I didn’t think of anything like that and moreover didn’t know it is important. Well, you got me now…. Thanks for this wonderful share…..
    Have a nice day.
    Ugyen

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Ugyen,

      welcome to Temok and thank you for the comment,

      You can always plan more when starting the next blog and use the experience that you gained from this one to create an even better blog,

      thanks,
      – Oleg

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  16. Santanu says:

    As a beginner we were always in a hurry to hit the publish button. I have also learned things gradually. This is really an awesome article for beginners to learn the basics and then only hit the launch button. Many thanks for this article.

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Santanu,

      Thank you for the comment, glad to know that you liked the articles.

      Yes, those early excitement years are always amazing – less planning, quick to jump in and expecting results even quicker!
      In time we all learn the gradual process,

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  17. Hi, Oleg

    Nice post ! Well, I was searching about https roles in the security of websites and I got your site . After reading your post, my question is that if you want to convert your old site from HTTP to HTTPS then what points should I keep in mind before doing this. Do you think it will affect any setting in the back end ?

  18. Austin Hill says:

    Hi Jessica Thompson:
    Converting from http to https only requires to purchase SSL certificate. It does not affect any setting in the back end of your website. It’s easy to enable SSL on your domain. It won’t impact on back end functionality. However you would require to apply some changes.
    To force all web traffic to use HTTPS insert the following lines of code in the .htaccess file under your website’s root folder,

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example\.com [NC]
    RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.example.com/$1 [R,L]

    Make sure to replace example\.com with the domain name you’re trying force to https. Also you need to replace http://www.example.com with your actual domain name. If you are using CMS / blogging system like word press or Joomla you need to update URL in your CMS settings. See below for details.

    How to Setup WordPress to Use SSL and HTTPS
    =============================================
    If you are starting a new site and/or want to use HTTPS everywhere on your site, then you need to update your site URL with https:// in wordpress settings.
    Logon to wordpress admin area >> Go to Settings >> General updating your WordPress and site URL address fields.
    For detail please view this knowledgebase article: https://clients.temok.com/knowledgebase.php?action=displayarticle&id=521

    Enable Force SSL in your Joomla site
    ============================================
    Step 1: configure your configuration.php file

    Open your configuration.php file
    Find the following line and replace with: Replace with: var $live_site = ‘https://www.your-domain.com’;
    var $live_site =”;

    Next, open .htaccess file then add the following code to the bottom of the file.
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTPS} OFF
    RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI}

    Step 2: enable Force SSL in your Joomla site
    In the Admin Panel, navigate through System >> Global Configuration or simply click the Global Configuration button.
    Within the Server tab, in the Server Settings section, there are 3 Force SSL alternatives that you can select, namely:
    None: SSL will not be enabled in your Joomla site.
    Administrator Only: connections to your administrator will be on HTTPS.
    Entire Site: connections all over your website will be on HTTPS.
    Choose the last one “Entire Site” and Hit the Apply/Save button. You are done now! So let’s check your site now.

    Note: Don’t forget to replace your-domain.com with the name of your website domain.

  19. Mark Stephan says:

    The most beneficial thing should be to make your website compatible with all diverse nature devices available in market.

  20. […] This is not really supposed to be a choice, it’s something you have to do in order to succeed at your blogging and internet marketing career. […]

  21. AbelPardo says:

    Hi Oleg,

    https is step by step more than an option a must. When next year google will identify as not secure websites without SSL those who don’t have https will have less confidence at the visitor’s eyes.

    • Oleg says:

      Hi Abel,

      thank you for the comment,
      Yeah, HTTPs isn’t just an option, it is a requirement. Google isn’t the sole reason for doing the SSL, it is your visitor’s interest you should protect – even if Google does not care about it.

      thanks,
      – Oleg

  22. Rajesh says:

    Nice article Olex!
    Beginners just want to make their website live as soon as possible. But you rightly said that there should be at least few contents to keep them engaged on your website.

    Appreciate your time and effort in creating this post to help beginners.

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  24. […] are many essential things to consider before publishing a new blog post like Mobile optimization, Security checks, Keyword checks etc. but post-publishing […]

  25. […] would make huge sense to check out Oleg’s wonderful post where he extensively shared the 12 Critical Things to Do Before making Your Website Live. This is one article I have recently been pointing my clients to when I want them to get the whole […]

  26. […] Another thing you would like to do after launching your site is to change the site basic information. Under this, you need to customize the site’s title, time zone, tagline, and favicon. […]

  27. […] would make huge sense to check out Oleg’s wonderful post where he extensively shared the 12 Critical Things to Do Before making Your Website Live. This is one article I have recently been pointing my clients to when I want them to get the whole […]

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