Redesigning your website is an exciting, yet complex undertaking. There are many ways to screw it up, that's why making a checklist is especially important. From development to copy to marketing to SEO, it's important to cover all of your bases when it's time to launch your website redesign.
We hope this checklist eliminates some of your pain, we know it has for us! Feel free to share it with a friend or colleague who is taking on a website redesign project.
- Copy-editing! We cannot stress this enough.
Check your spelling and grammar, but make sure that you have an editor, friend or colleague look over the website with fresh eyes. It’s a known fact that when you read things multiple times, you tend to skip over words you “think” are there. If you don’t have someone to check it, put the copy in a tool like Grammarly or read the text out loud.
- Page Title and Meta Description
Your page title and description are especially important for search engine optimization. This tells Google what page you have on your site, what it means, and how would a user search for this page online. If you don’t have this critical piece, you’re missing the number #1 thing that Google looks at to put you in search engine results. Make sure to have titles of 55 characters or less and don’t duplicate page titles. Be specific!
- Image ALT text
Alt text is another way that Google reads what is on your website. Why is it important? If you want to reinforce showing up in search engine results, always make sure that you have ALT text. Second, ALT text isn’t just important for SEO, but it also improves the accessibility standards of your website. It tells disabled users on your site what the image is since they can’t see it.
- Don’t forget legal pages
Marketing and Email
- Email hosting
Did you recently change email providers? We have many clients who move from one-off providers like MailChimp or Constant Contact to a tool like HubSpot. This process can be quite tedious so don’t underestimate it. Essentially, you’re moving all of your data to a new platform. You don’t want to lose it! At the same time, migrating your emails also gives you the opportunity to update contacts, properties and sales information to make your workflow more efficient.
- Lead capture - Are your contacts being entered into your CRM after filling out a form?
- Internal linking
If Google sees that new users are coming to your website and finding the content useful, meaning they are diving into deep pages of your site, they will see you as more authoritative. Make sure to link articles, content and offers on your site so that the user stays on your site for longer and engages.
Quality Assurance and Usability Testing
I’d like to first point out that quality assurance is often the most undervalued part of the process, but quite honestly, one of the MOST IMPORTANT parts. While your website is hopefully better than it was as far as messaging and user flow goes, if it doesn’t work correctly then users will get frustrated and leave your website indefinitely.
On the other hand, there’s a reason why Aristotle said, “Well begun is half done.” If you never get your website out there, then you’re missing out on business opportunities.
- Test across multiple browsers and multiple screen sizes.
Safari, Chrome, Firefox - and dare I say it, but Internet Explorer. Test what your site looks like on all of these browsers for each screen size: desktop, iPad, and iPhone (Apple and Android). You might be thinking, “Well that’s all fine and dandy, but what should you look out for?” Great question. When you’re testing your website you want to pay attention to all of these items:
- Double check links and buttons
- Make sure text is showing up
- Make sure that boxes, margins, and padding are the correct sizes
- Make sure your forms are working
- Ensure that images are all rendering correctly.
- Double check that your paragraph font, headings, and lists are showing up
- Play videos
Normally, you would have a QA team that does this process for you. If you're doing your website redesign in-house, use tools like W3 Link Checker or Xenu tool. For testing responsive, you can use Google’s tool, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test for testing.
- Do speed testing
You want to ensure that your website is loading as fast as possible. If it’s not, you need to be able to determine what is slowing it down. Tools like Pingdom, Smushit or the “Inspect” feature in your browser can help you determine what is going on.
39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load. (Source)
- Test forms - Manually test every form on your site to make sure it is functioning as planned.
- Favicon – Test to see that your Favicon is showing browser
- Check your 404 pages – Type in a non-existent page URL on your site to get a 404 error page. Ideally, you’ll want to use a custom page for this that has an error message that’s better than the default server error.
- Check your 301 redirects – If you had to create a new URL structure, test a few key pages from your old site URL structure to make sure they are redirecting as expected.
- Test social – Test all of your social icons to make sure they are taking people where you want them to go.
Tracking & Technical
- Tracking Codes
We recommend adding all channels to ensure that you have all of your bases are covered. Especially if you plan to run ads across different channels like AdWords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn or retargeting, you'll want to make sure to properly install and test your tracking codes. However, Google Analytics is your number one priority here - the other channels aren’t required for your website redesign launch.
- Make sure to redirect!
A redirect tells Google where the location of your new website page is. If you deleted or are deleting website pages from your old website, you'll want to make sure to point the old page to the new page (or your home page if there's no equivalent to the page you are deleting).
- Check your XML sitemap - If you are using a tool like the WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast, you’ll get your site map URL from the plugin. If not, you can use a free tool like this XML sitemap generator.
- Check your robots.txt file - Make sure that Google can crawl your website efficiently. Read Google's post on the subject.
- Check NAP with Schema - Verify that your business information is correctly formatted in the Schema code. You can learn more at schema.org.
- Wordpress Plugin Audit - If you’re using a platform like Wordpress, make sure that all of your plugins are working, updated and collecting data.
- Confirm your SSL - Make sure to check if your website is secure. You can use this tool to double-check.
- Point Your DNS - After QA testing, it’s time to point your DNS to the new hosting Nameservers. This means it's time to launch your website redesign!
- Lastly, submit your site to directories - Yahoo Directory, DMOZ, Business.com, JoeAnt, Best of the Web, Google, Bing.
Launch your website redesign
We hope you can use this website redesign launch checklist to make your site live! Did we miss something? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Remember, it doesn't stop at launch. There is a whole checklist of activities that you'll need to ensure once you go live. (Including testing again!).
At Laire Group, we specialize in helping companies design/redesign their websites for optimal lead generation and inbound marketing. Let us know if you need any help or learn about our website design process here!