A new project's launch is always a stressful and overwhelming experience. Launching a website is not an exception. There is a huge number of tasks each part of the development team will have to complete before going live. Such an anxiety-inducing challenge often leads to small mistakes that in some cases have dire consequences.
The solution to this problem is simple – you need to have a detailed step-by-step website launch plan. Clear instructions on how to prepare for launch on each front will make the job easier for the whole team. Besides, a shared website launch checklist will help to manage the overall process.
If you’re not sure which steps are mandatory on the prelaunch checklist and which are less important, we’ve got your back. Here is a thorough set of steps you need to follow for a successful website launch.
General Management Prelaunch Checklist
1. Set Up a Launch Timetable
The first thing you need to do is to make a meticulous launch schedule. Set up deadlines for each task on this checklist, and the whole process will be much more organized and calm. Make sure to leave some leeway for any emergency that might occur.
2. Make Sure Each Department Knows Their Procedure
Set up simulations or tests if you need to. In a stressful launch atmosphere, it is important that everyone follows the plan carefully.
3. Assign a Response Team for Any Emergency
When it comes to planning, always assume the worst. Try to imagine the most common failure scenarios. Based on them, pick a team of responsible and stress-tolerant people to deal with the issues.
4. Check the Law Compliance
As the Internet has become an important part of our everyday life, governments have put a lot of restrictions and regulations on it. If you don’t want your website to be flagged or removed from search engines altogether, check the following;
- License for the content that requires one (images, videos, fonts, etc.);
- If your company deals with money transactions, check the compliance with local laws of the countries you work in.
Design and Functionality
5. Perform a Thorough Testing on a Target Platform
Before you let your target audience see the website in all its glory, you need to look at it yourself. Using a setup similar to the live system, check as many features as you can.
6. If Needed, Check for Cross-Browser Compatibility
Although Drupal core works well with most modern browsers, some contributed modules might not be as flexible. So, allocate some time to check your website’s functionality in the most popular browsers.
7. If Needed, Make Sure the Website is Cross-Platform Friendly
More and more people are accessing the web through their mobile devices. If your project aims to cover the biggest market possible and includes cross-platform availability, double check that every feature works as intended on each device.
8. Check the Site Settings
Visit admin/config/system/site-information to make sure that everything (e-mail, name, etc.) is set up perfectly.
9. Pay Attention to Favicon
While this little logo is a small detail, it can draw a lot of attention. Generate a perfect favicon for your website and upload a retina version of it for high definition screens, if possible.
10. Review the Status Report Page
The Status Report page is one of your main sources of info about the site. Make sure it doesn’t show any errors and check the health of each module.
11. Analyze the Logs
Logs will help you to analyze the test runs you’ve made. Make sure none of them (watchdog log, webserver log, etc.) contain any errors.
12. Audit and Debug the Code
Even if you’ve done it hundreds and thousands of times, this point is too important to skip.
13. Check for Broken Links
Sometimes both internal and external links can change during the development process. Make sure that each URL you include works properly.
14. Create a 404 Page
A custom 404 page is another small detail that can become important in the long run. Make it a part of your UX design. Additionally, set up notifications to quickly fix any errors users might discover.
15. Test Integrated and Unique Features and Their Compatibility
Make sure that all components are synchronized. Pay special attention to unique features you’ve developed and third-party solutions you have nothing to do with.
16. Check the Quick Backup Function
In the worst-case scenario, you should be ready to bring back the previous version of the website. So, you need to review both backup and restore functions.
17. Perform the Load Testing Under Different Circumstances
Stress testing is one of the most important parts of the website pre-launch checklist. Make sure to test your project under every scenario possible – with disabled and enabled caches, under anonymous accounts, etc.
18. Set Up the Settings for Caches
Proper caches setup is incredibly impactful when it comes to performance optimization. Check Varnish, Redis and/or Memcached configuration before going live.
19. Enable Advanced Aggregation for Bandwidth Optimization
Loading speed is a major factor when it comes to app success. So, optimize it to the max by compressing cached pages and using advanced aggregation modules.
20. Double Check Your File Organization System
Efficient file organization is another key component of an optimized project. The bigger the site gets, the harder it is to implement it. So, your task is to create a strong base for such a system and regularly test it, not just as a part of the website launch checklist.
21. Optimize Scripts and Database Queries
This point is clear – check all the actions your website performs and make them as efficient as possible.
22. Configure the Admin Account
Arranging admin account security is the first step in the security part of the site launch checklist. Make sure it’s not called “Admin” and is protected by a reliable password.
23. Review the User Accounts
Sometimes testing results in unaccounted dummy accounts or accounts with admin privileges. These can be major liabilities, so you need to perform a thorough audit while the site is in the pre-live stage.
24. Test the SSL and Make Sure the Redirection Works Properly
If you’re using the SSL certification, check if it works on the live domain and the SSL redirection is accurate.
25. Audit the Permissions
Take a final look at permissions for both user and admin accounts, then add or remove them where necessary.
26. Disable Development and Overall Unused Modules
A lot of modules that are helpful during development can become security weaknesses after launch. Disable everything that is not necessary for site functionality.
27. Enable Script Monitoring
To protect your project from malicious intent, set up modules that will constantly confirm website security.
28. Get Rid of Problematic Files
Discard, or make unreachable, .txt files (except for robots.txt) and /install.php.
29. Perform an Overall Security Review
Use any tool in your resources, such as the Security_Review module, to perform a complete security review and eliminate every identifiable problem.
Read also: How to Improve Drupal Website Security
30. Get Rid of All Unnecessary Content Objects
Dummy users are not the only test entities that need to be removed before launch. Delete all the nodes, terms, and custom objects that will not be used in the final product.
31. Search for Loren Ipsum
Loren Ipsum, or any other placeholder text, has no place on the final version of the website. Search the database and remove any trace of it you find.
32. Ensure the Content Formatting Consistency
Irregular formatting is an eye-catching detail. Such a simple detail can be very frustrating to users, even if they don't realize the reason for their frustrations. Make sure content follows the same style on every page.
33. Check for Duplicate Content
Duplicates are a common problem in web design. Stay alert and spend some time fishing them out.
34. Proofread Everything
Another common and noticeable mistake, though minor, concerns grammar. Use any one of the many available plug-ins designed to help you proofread text on your website.
35. Ensure sitemap.xml and robots.txt Are in Place
Site architecture and hierarchy is very important for increasing SEO, so ensure that everything required for these elements is properly setup.
36. Review the URL Aliases and Redirects
Website pages often have several URLs. In order to keep the site map consistent, check if each alternative works properly.
37. Audit the URL and Content Consistency
Making URLs search-engine-friendly goes a long way towards making your website popular. One of the steps towards achieving this is to ensure correlation between the URL and page content.
38. Check Metadata and Keywords
The next step to cover is reviewing meta tags, as well as metadata for news feeds and social media. Due to the potential of hundreds of web pages, this data is often generated automatically. Pay particularly close attention to it.
39. Double-Check the Originality of Titles and Descriptions
A unique title and description for your content make it much easier to distinguish and target a specific audience. A quick search will help you to easily complete this step.
40. Install and Follow the SEO Checklist Module
The built-in SEO checklist module has a much more detailed list of things you need to complete your website search engine optimization. If you want to ensure that you accomplish all your SEO goals, install it and check every item on the list.
Read also: SEO Checklist for Drupal Website
Although a detailed step-by-step plan doesn’t ensure a successful launch, it reduces the chance of any unexpected complication. Each part of this website's go live checklist is equally important. So make sure that each part of your team is completely focused on its task.
Now that you have a detailed website launch checklist template, it’s all up to you. Modify it to fit your specific project and start your pre-live preparations.