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Check these 12 Things First Before Launching Your Website

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12 Things to Check Before Launching Your New WordPress Website

It’s so exciting when you’re just about ready to launch your new site. And congrats for getting this far! Before you click that PUBLISH button though, there are some important steps you need to check to ensure your site operates correctly. It’s all in the details, friends. Consider this your pre-launch checklist. Here are the 12 things to check before launching your website.

First step, forms and links. If you’re ready to launch your site then you hopefully took the time to integrate your email marketing strategy into your site. If you did this correctly, you have a popup (or opt-in form), as well as inline opt-in forms throughout each page of your site. These forms need to be clicked and tested to make sure they work correctly before they go live. If not, well, you might have people entering their email addresses and disappearing into the internet abyss because their email was never registered on your mailing list. The best way to check this is to enter your own and make sure you are receive an email saying a subscriber has just signed up. Do this for all unique forms on your site.

In some cases, you might have a direct URL download when someone joins your list. If this is the case, make sure that link works and points directly to the download. If it doesn’t (or, if it’s too complicated for someone to figure out), you’ll lose that subscriber. 

At the same time, check any broken links and make sure your navigation menu directs to the right web pages. You’ll lose potential customers if they can’t reach your artwork or products quickly or if they find your website hard to navigate in general. 

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2. Test Your Automated Welcome Sequence.

Related to the previous item, you’ll want to double check that your automated welcome sequence is triggering correctly. If you don’t know what this is, it’s basically a series of emails that you’ve pre-designed and set up to send out to new subscribers with a certain time delay between each email. One example of a good sequence email is: Welcome To …. , wait 2 days, Here’s my story, wait 2 days, Here is what’s new on the Blog, wait 2 days, New Products / Collections… 

You get the point. 

You should modify your sequence to suit your business but the general idea is that you draw someone in and keep them interested so that they stay on your mailing list and become a loyal fan. 

3. Make Sure Your Custom 404 page Is Created and Enabled.

Having a custom built 404 page is important for user experience. If you don’t know what this is, a 404 page is an error message page that lets users know the webpage they are trying to access is not available on the server. A 404 page is basically a way for websites to say, “Oops, we couldn’t find the page you’re looking for.” It usually occurs because the website’s URL is no longer active, a page has been deleted or a redirect doesn’t work. 

The opportunity in a 404 page lies in your chance to be creative. Instead of just telling the visitor there’s an error, you can have fun with it and use it to further your brand message. Maybe it’s a bit funny, or shows a cute image, or gives you options to find what you’re looking for in a more interesting way.

But why does the custom 404 matter? Well, imagine if every time you hit a dead end on the internet, you got a boring error message. You’d probably jump right off the site. A custom 404 page helps your visitor out by giving you links to go back to the homepage or try a search. It’s like the website saying, “Sorry about the detour, let me help you get back on track.” 

If you’re building your site out yourself, there are wordpress plugins that can help you create custom 404 or redirect pages, such as 404 to 301. 

4. Complete SEO On Each Page Of Your Site

Optimizing your website for search engines is crucial for attracting organic traffic and increasing visibility. This is one subject that I am absolutely obsessed with! It is the most important element of your site. Before you publish, you’ll want to double check that you’ve optimized your meta tags, including page titles, title tag(s) and meta descriptions, alt images and URLs to increase your website’s visibility in search engine results.

There are many WordPress SEO plugins but the best one is called Yoast SEO. The plugin provides tools and features to improve on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by offering guidance on various aspects of content creation and optimization. It will tell you your on-page SEO rating and give you options to improve, including content analysis, customizable titles, meta description, alt text, XML sitemaps, breadcrumb navigation, and social media integration. The plugin simplifies the optimization process, making it accessible for users without extensive SEO knowledge. 

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5. Check Your URLs

The next step is to check your URLs. WordPress will default your URL address to the title of the post. While this is generally the direction you want to go, you’ll also want to double check it and simplify it where possible. A well-structured and concise URL improves user experience, signals content relevance to search engines, and helps in avoiding duplicate content issues. Additionally, URLs contribute to backlink anchor text, social sharing, and overall content organization on a website. Optimizing URLs for SEO involves creating short, descriptive, and user-friendly links that enhance visibility and click-through rates.

Here are my top two tips for writing good URLs:

Use Keywords 

Include relevant keywords in your URL that accurately describe the content of the page. This helps search engines understand the page’s topic and improves SEO.

Keep in Short and Simple

Short URLs are easier to remember, share, and display in search results. Aim for brevity while maintaining clarity about the page’s content.

6. Upload Your Custom Favicon.

Uploading a custom favicon is important for brand recognition, professionalism, and user experience. It adds a visual element to your website, making it stand out in browser tabs and bookmarks. A well-designed favicon contributes to brand recall and enhances the overall credibility of your site. Use your logo or a photo of yourself. 

7.  Optimize Your Image Sizes

Have all your images been resized and optimized? 

Optimizing image size for websites is crucial for faster page loading times and improved user experience. The optimal page load time is generally considered to be around 1 to 3 seconds or faster. Here are some tips on how to optimize image sizes:

Use image compression to reduce file size without significantly compromising quality. There are various online tools and image optimization plugins available that can automatically compress images for you. I like to use the SmushPro plugin for WordPress which helps you compress your image sizes while also offering you options and other opportunities to help boost your site. 

8. Ensure Your Site Optimized For Mobile Devices.

So many of my clients have absolutely no idea how to optimize their site for mobile even when most of us access sites on our phones, we still design them on our computers. Having a mobile-optimized website is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. Mobile optimization ensures that your website looks and functions well on all devices, regardless of screen size. Be sure to check all your pages and load times for mobile, it will be the thing that will make or break your organic traffic.

A common mistake is failing to make your website responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts its layout to fit different screen sizes. This can result in a poor user experience on mobile devices, leading to high bounce rates and lost conversions.

To fix this mistake, use a responsive website design that adapts to various devices. Optimize your images and videos to load quickly on mobile devices. Test your website speed and mobile-friendliness using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool and make necessary adjustments. You should also check how your site looks on different devices so that all your hard work isn’t cut-off, cropped or invisible all together. 

9. Ensure Your Bio / About Me Page Is Complete

One of the biggest mistakes we make as artists is we almost completely skip over this step and get right to the art, but this is the most important way to connect to a potential buyer. They need to know who they’re buying art from.

To read all about how to write a powerful bio page, head over here! 

10. Ensure You Have Effective Call-to-Action (CTA) Buttons On All Pages.

Your website’s call-to-action (CTA) buttons play a crucial role in driving conversions and giving visitors a reason to stay on your site. However, many websites make the mistake of having ineffective or poorly placed CTAs. A weak CTA can fail to motivate visitors to take the desired action, resulting in missed opportunities.

Before you launch, ensure that your CTAs are clear, compelling, and prominently displayed. Use action-oriented language that clearly communicates the benefits of taking the desired action. Experiment with different button colors, sizes, and placements to find what works best for your audience.

11. Ensure Your Site And Privacy Policy Page / FAQ Is Updated

The most overlooked page on your website is one of the most important. Why? Because without it, google will have a hard time indexing your site. 

A FAQ or policy page on your website is crucial for quick access to information, efficient customer support, legal compliance, and building trust with users. It demonstrates professionalism, reduces support overhead, and can contribute to improved SEO. Having clear policies helps address concerns, educates users, and may enhance conversion rates by addressing potential objections. In essence, these pages are vital for a transparent, user-friendly, and credible online presence.

Make sure you have an easily accessible FAQ / Policy page that covers all your important information. You can also include your contact information on this page so that if someone has questions they can easily reach you from there. 

12. Run A Site Audit

Last step, yay! Running a site audit before launching is crucial to identify and address issues early. It ensures SEO optimization, a positive user experience, and optimal performance. Audits cover areas such as content quality, security, mobile responsiveness, and compliance with standards, contributing to a successful website launch. 

This is sort of like your confidence booster before you share your work with the world! If there are any issues, you’ll know sooner rather than later. If you’ve done all the above steps, your site audit should have a good rating. And if you’re missing something, this is a good way to find it. 

For now, take your time to complete your website and functionality and make any necessary changes first. It will pay in a big way if you follow all these steps and troubleshoot before launching to minimize lost traffic, frustrated visitors and poor google search rankings. 

Last thing. But we’ll save this for another blog post. Once you’ve done all these steps and you’ve clicked that launch button, you can do the following: Set up your google analytics, request indexing on all your pages and check for errors on google search console. We’re going to cover these items in an upcoming blog post! 

If you need help with any of these steps, feel free to reach out to me here. I know it’s a lot of work! I’d be happy to run a complete site audit for you and offer your opportunities to optimize your website and show best practices for your new wordpress site.

Or, if you’re reading this and thinking to redesign or create your own website, I would love to work with you! Head over to Custom Web Design to read more on our services.

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12 Things to Check Before Launching Your New WordPress Website

If you feel I’ve missed something or want to add your own tip, comment below! I’d love to hear from you!

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