Your store is looking great, all of your products have been loaded into the back-end and your social media accounts are ready. So, you’re good to go in hitting that launch button on your website, right? Keep reading.
Here’s the thing: with all of the hustle and bustle that goes into preparing a website to go live, it’s really easy to miss those small details that make all the difference when it comes to launching a site successfully. We’ve put together a checklist that’ll help your website to launch firing on all cylinders! Tick ‘em off as you go through the list.
#1. Add all available sales channels
Benefitting from multi-channel retailing isn’t hard but you do need to know which sales channels work best for your brand. Avenue offers integration with both GetPrice and Google Shopping. To make the most of these other sales channels, ensure your feed aggregator data set-up is complete.
#2. Domain name check
You want to double check your site’s domain name to ensure it’s customised and relevant to your business. In your site’s alias list and host name, look at including ‘www……com’ if the host name is a ‘domain.com' and missing the ‘www.’
At times, there may be a delay between moving from the test domain to your own site’s domain. When this happens, you need to ensure your site’s settings are correctly set up for the SSL certificate.
#3. SSL Certificate
Without an SSL certificate, your website runs the risk of being labelled by search engines as ‘not secure’. Relatively cost-effective, an SSL certificate ensures your website is safe and encrypted, meaning hackers can’t easily intercept any data. In addition to providing website visitors with peace of mind, an SSL certificate also boosts your site’s SEO given this is now part of Google's search ranking algorithm. It’s a win-win! Bottom line: never go live without SSL certification on your site.
#4. Get your standard pages working for your brand
The following pages are pretty much non-negotiable when it comes to successful retail stores: Home, About, Store (or Shop), Contact and FAQs. Double and triple check that all links are working and that no pesky 404 or other errors are at play, make sure your messaging is clear and that it’s easy to contact customer support. Sometimes, people can mistype a URL or in the event they do click on a dodgy link, it’s best to direct them towards a customised 404 page with a simple “Page Not Found” or “Can’t find what you’re looking for message”. This helps you to keep people on the site by improving user experience and redirecting them elsewhere, even when things don’t go to plan.
#5. Audit all content
The easiest way to conduct a content audit - to ensure each page is in tip top condition - is to work methodically through the below pointers that we’ve put together:
- Proofread all content, paying attention to typos and grammar mistakes. Print out the copy if you have to or work backwards so you’re looking at the final paragraph first.
- Ensure all copy is easy to read in terms of fonts (both size and colour), short sharp sentences, bullet points and remember, white space is your friend! Also look out for consistency throughout your website.
- Double check that all audio files and videos are working and that dummy/placeholder text doesn’t make it to your live site.
- Make sure all content is optimised for SEO. Each page needs a unique title tag and meta description and all text should be optimised for search. Pay particular attention to these five most important elements: titles, meta descriptions, headings/body content, image titles and alt text/URLs.
- All pages and links must be linked correctly meaning, no hard coded links (at times, links in code may refer back to the testing site or are hard coded to the live site).
#6. Organise an imagery check
You want to ensure that all images on your site are compressed for viewing on web because this reduces page loading times as much as possible. People are time poor, so sluggish site speed hurts user experience and performance in search engines like Google. Be mindful of file types as well and stick with .jpg or .png files. A .gif for thumbnails or decorative images won’t hurt either.
Three quick steps to follow are:
- Make sure all images have alt text for SEO purposes.
- Aim for the smallest possible thumbnail sizes.
- Use quality descriptions when naming images as this helps with SEO.
#7. Ensure your XML Sitemap is on the server and configured properly
The code file that lists all relevant URLs that form your website is referred to as an XML Sitemap. It’s essential when it comes to optimising your website for search as it helps web crawlers to crawl your site more intelligently. Most SEO plug-ins automatically build a Sitemap for you but you want to double check that a Sitemap does exist for your site and includes the relevant content.
#8. Review contact touchpoints
Test all active templates to see if they’re working correctly.
Also test every form on your site for both flow and communication purposes. When someone contacts you via your site, do they get an auto-response via email? Do they go back to your Homepage? Will your Analytics software record the submission as a conversion? They’re all important questions that need to be ironed out before there’s an issue at play.
In our books, the bare minimums include installing:
- An analytics tool (Google Analytics for instance)
- Google Recaptcha, make sure you have inserted a Google reCaptcha Public and Private key to prevent and protect your website from spam and abuse.
- Google Map API to ensure your site has a valid API key so you can rest assured Google Maps is working efficiently
Other key components to a successful website launch:
- Stress testing and server resource review/upgrade
You need to figure out how much traffic your website can handle at any one time. A good developer will be able to recommend load tests that’ll bring you as close to testing on a live site as possible. Just let your host or provider know you’re stress testing ahead of time, otherwise, they may mistakenly think it’s a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.
User experience is essential in ensuring your site performs at its best. That means testing it before it goes live to avoid potential customer dissatisfaction if things aren’t quite working initially, as planned.
- Check all payment functions are firing on all cylinders
Before hitting any go live buttons, adjust and triple check your tax and shipping settings as needed. You want to avoid unknowingly eating into profits simply because you’re not charging enough. Additionally, check that all available payment gateways are actually working and for credit card payments, ensuring your security is up to date and ready to reassure customers that their information is safe at all times.
#9. Make sure your site is mobile friendly
Your site needs to work across all devices. Google’s algorithm now even rewards mobile-friendly sites and penalises sites that aren’t cutting it on mobile devices. So your site needs to look and function as good on mobile, as it does on desktops. This also helps you to generate more leads and maintain your competitive advantage.
#10. Review browser compatibility
Ever seen a site that works really well on Safari but not so well on Chrome and vice versa? You want your site functioning 100% across all browsers - bugs or layout issues can easily be picked up providing you make the time to review browser compatibility.
#11. Implement a back-up strategy
You should be backing up your website regularly. Before you hit the live button, take a copy of your old CMS website and store it in a safe place. Install a suitable back-up plug-in solution and test it out before launching. This might just save you many sleepless nights in the long-term. We all know that things can go wrong with technology so be prepared.
#12. Get your legals in order
It’s best to consult a lawyer for this one but here are some common best practice tips surround legal requirements:
- Organise relevant licenses for images, fonts, plug-ins and so on.
- All ecommerce stores should have a ‘Terms of Condition’ section and you may need a ‘Terms of Service’ page as well to further explain your services.
- A cookie warning is a legal requirement in many locations so it’s wise to have one.
We know we’ve covered a lot here but you can come up for air now. It is a lot of information but following these simple guidelines now, will serve you well into the long-term.
Need help with your brands launch or re-launch? Contact Woven today and our team of experts will be in touch.