We believe a successful website launch is a lot like baking a cake. When baking a cake you follow a recipe and ingredient list to ensure everything goes to plan.

Similarly, when launching a website we believe following a checklist is best practice to ensure that no crucial steps have been missed along the way which is why we have devised our own checklist that we use internally at ePresence for all our website launches.

As WordPress accounts for approximately 35% market share of all websites online this website is predominantly for WordPress websites but many of the items on the list can be replicated on other CMS platforms.

Here is a video run-through of our checklist.

Don’t have time to read full the list? Download a pdf copy of our WordPress Website Checklist

 

Before You Start

First there are 2 questions you need to ask before you start and they may seem like basic questions but they are vitally important.

  1. Do you own and have access to the domain?

We have seen on multiple occasions over the years people run into trouble with their websites because the domain was purchased by a former employee and nobody else in the organisation has the details for the domain to change the DNS records.

If you don’t know the login details for your domain then chances are you will need to get access to it.

To see where it’s registered you can use a WhoIS Look Up tool to find out who the nameservers are with.

 

  1. Do you have login details for the hosting?

It is important to have your website hosting information on hand in case anything goes wrong with your site when you are putting the site live.

In the event that your website goes down and you can’t access your website via the WordPress admin panel then you can restore the website via a backup on your hosting.

 

Website Setup

  1. Search Engine Visibility

Option: Go to “Settings” –> “Reading

Untick the search engine visibility box. This will allow the site to be indexed.

settings reading

 

2. Check that the website domain updated successfully

Go to the website, right click and select view source.

Use “Ctrl” + “F” and look for part of the draft domain

3. Check for placeholder images

Replace placeholder images and watermarked stock images.

 

4. Replace dummy content

Delete/replace Latin dummy text “Lorem ipsum” etc.

 

5. Test page links

Ensure that all links are working. All onsite website links should open in the same browser tab and not open in a new window.

 

6. Test website forms

All web forms including newsletter signups should be filled in. Once this is done check with the person who is due to receive the emails to ensure they got the completed forms.

If you are using the “Contact Form 7” plugin, install the following add on plugin:

 

7. Ensure all forms redirect to a Thank You Page

Redirection for Contact Form 7 – useful for adding thank you page redirects.

Test contact form redirects to check they are going to the tank you page.

 

8. Ensure reCaptcha setup

Having Google reCaptcha setup for your site will ensure far less spam gets through your contact forms.

 

9. Setup SMTP Plugin

If you have found your after testing your contact forms that your contact form emails aren’t getting through to your email address then you may need to install a SMTP plugin. We recommend WP Mail SMTP.

 

10. Test website forms

Ensure that you have received test entries on all forms.

 

11. Check that Google Analytics is installed

Go to the website, right click and select view source.

Use “Ctrl” + “F” and look for “analytics”

google analytics

How to check that Google Analytics is working?

While on the website, open the link https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/ in a new tab.

Login and open the relevant analytics account. Click “Real-time” -> “Overview” and you should see at least one active user on the site. If not, Analytics is not working.

real time analytics

 

12. Connect to the Google Search Console

After you have setup the Google Search Console for the precise domain (i.e. is the domain “www.” or “non www.”?). Make sure that Google Analytics is connected to the right Google Search Console account. This can be adjusted in the property settings in GA. Press the “Adjust Search Console” button and select the correct account.

google search console

13. Implement cookie warning

Recommended plugin: Cookie Notice for GDPR & CCPA

 

14. Include terms and conditions

Don’t forget those T&Cs! Especially if you are an ecommerce shop or otherwise dealing with transactions and money, this is an absolute must have. Link to this page from your website footer.

 

15. Provide privacy policy

Add a page outlining your company privacy policy. Link to this page from your website footer.

 

16. Include copyright notification

This is normally added to the very end of the footer.

e.g. Copyright @ 2020 ePresence Online Marketing | All Rights Reserved

 

17. Test Social Links and Sharing Functionality

Test the social links are linking to your social media pages.

 

18. Setup a 404 Page

Though most themes have a default page for content that can’t be found, you should also consider setting up a custom 404 error page. Either way, make sure there is a page for those who get onto your site through a faulty link.

 

19. Mobile Responsive Test (Mobile Friendly)

Test that your website works well on mobile devices with Google’s Mobile Responsive Test.

 

SEO & Analytics

20. Install SEO plugin and Create SEO Friendly Titles and Meta Descriptions for all top level pages

Recommended plugin: Yoast SEO

Fill in the “Keyphrase”, “Title Tag” and “Meta Description” on the main pages.

seo yoast

Useful links:

 

21. Setup 301 Redirects

Recommended plugin: Redirection by John Godley

Requires initial setup. Activate “log” and “404” error reporting options.

Make sure 301’s are added for all old or expired URLs.

 

22. Submit Sitemap(s)

Sitemap files are normally located at www.domain.com/sitemap.xml

Note: The sitemap is generated through the Yoast SEO plugin.

Sitemap(s) are submitted through the Google Search Console.

 

23. Ensure eCommerce Tracking is enabled and working if appropriate

 

24. Activate Website Caching

Recommended plugin: WP Fastest Cache

Note: Don’t activate the option “Combine Js – Reduce HTTP requests through combined js files (header)” as this normally breaks other scripting causing a potential loss in functionality. i.e. contact forms

Here is a good overview video on how to configure WP Fastest Cache

 

25. Page Speed Test (Mobile & Desktop)

Test how fast your website performs on mobile and desktop. There are a number of tools for measuring page speed.

 

 

Backup & Security

 26. Strong website password

Make sure you have used a strong password and its saved somewhere secure.

Useful link: Password Generator

 

27. SSL

When SSL is configured correctly, the padlock is visible to identify that the connection is secure.

Note: The padlock is green in Google Chrome.

Recommended Plugin: Really Simple SSL

 

If you are pulling your hair out trying to find out why your secure page is not fully secure?

Use the tool: Why No Padlock to diagnose potential issues

ssl cert

 

28. Make sure that the developer has installed the latest version of WordPress

If an update is available, there will be a “please update now” notification in the backend.

wordpress version

How to find the WordPress version?

Log in to the WordPress administration dashboard and check the bottom right corner of the page.

 

29. Backup website files and database

Recommended plugin: UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

 

30. Install Anti-Spam Solution

Recommended plugin: Akismet Anti-Spam

Set Strictness to: “Silently discard the worst and most pervasive spam so I never see it.”

Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against our global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.

 

31. Website hosting details saved in secure place for future use

 

32. Domain management details saved in secure place for future use

 

And that’s it, your site is now ready to go live! Best of luck with your website launch. Don’t forget to download our website checklist for future reference.

wordpress checklist