A New Website Launch Checklist

You’re standing at the finish line. After weeks of back and forth, your client has finally signed off on their shiny new website, and you’re ready to send it off into the world. But to prevent any misfires, there are a few important items to double (and triple) check. (And while you’re at it, have a few teammates double check because lord knows you’re way too close to the thing).

Here they are:

Make sure you have all the credentials you need – and that they’re working.

Don’t let a client’s outdated password keep you from re-pointing that DNS and sending your baby live. Many a launch has been delayed due to missing hosting information and incorrect registrar credentials, among other administrative details. Before you even begin work for a client, be sure to collect proper registrar and hosting panel logins. Once you collect them, test them. Then save them somewhere safe.

Don’t be in the dark about your site’s propagation status.
Some things you just can’t rush. Propagation is one of them – and we’ve all heard the old ‘could take up to 48 hours to propagate.’ That’s a lot of time when you and the client are anxiously awaiting the big rollout. But what if the re-point is held up by a simple typo in your A Records? At CreativeMMS, we like to use a site called What’s My DNS? to track the status of the propagation period. One or two red X-es is normal – but if you’re seeing a whole lot of them, chances are you done goofed your setup. And now you know a lot sooner than tomorrow.

Make sure your site is visible to search engines.
Think of it this way – all your hard work you just put into your client’s site? Totally moot if no one is finding it. If you’re developing properly, you’ve been blocking search engines from indexing your development or staging site (and rightly so!) But after you launch, make SURE these settings don’t carry over to the live site. If you’re launching a WordPress site, you’ll want to uncheck that little box under ‘Settings > Reading’ that says ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site.’

search engine request in wordpress

And, if you really want to be sure, check out your site’s robots.txt file using either an SEO plugin (like Yoast), or through good old SFTP. In some cases, the contents of the file should look like this:

robts.txt image sample

Be sure that no links are directing users to your development site.

Relative links are a beautiful thing, and we should all strive to use them in our development. But sometimes… we forget. We get lazy. We get a little nutty with the copy/paste. Thankfully, there are tools that scan our site and point out where we left absolute links to our staging/development sites sitting wide open on the live, user-facing site. You can do a search and destroy for these.

  1. Search
    We like to use a tool called Screaming Frog to see our site through SEO glasses. This helps us easily uncover links back to our staging site, whether they be hiding in media files, posts, pages, or theme templates.
  2. Destroy
    For those of us that are hesitant to step into SQL territory, there’s a handy WordPress plugin that runs a search and replace on your entire database. This makes it ridiculously easy to find all instances of your dev/staging site (yoursite.staging.com) and replace it with the live site’s URL (yoursite.com).But hey. You’re manipulating database fields. Do the right thing and take backups. You’ve been warned.
  3. Check
    Run Screaming Frog (or the tool of your choice) again to make sure your search and replace didn’t miss anything.

Now go! Launch! Godspeed, little site!

Boost Your Brand With A New Website

CreativeMMS takes designing and developing interactive websites to new heights. Starting with discovery, our passionate team of digital experts meticulously and thoroughly focus on creating a user experience that’s unique to each brand. Does your business need a new website? Contact CreativeMMS to get started on your new website project today!