Go-live checklist for a successful launch

TechnologyLearning

When it is finally time to launch, it's a good idea to have a checklist to make sure everything is ready for a successful launch. In this article I will list all the points I check at a Go-Live of a project. This list is a bit opinionated, but just like all the other resources you find online - take inspiration, but make this your own.

Published: 14 June 2023
Long exposure image of a rocket launch

The checklist

1. Add Favicon

The favicon can be an element that can be forgotten during development because it is not that important at that moment. But it is an important element in production for your users to be able to recognize your website in the sea of open tabs. I like to use a favicon generator to generate all the different icons and I hard code the references (because a favicon doesn't really change that often)

Go-live checklist - Favicon

2. Check Site Title

I use the SEOmatic plugin for almost all the things related to SEO on the websites I build with Craft CMS. In the global settings I make sure that the site title is set correctly and I adjust the positioning to the right of the page title.

Go-live checklist - Site Title

3. Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

This is one of those tasks I typical leave for just before launch. This ensures the content is pretty much finalized and I have all the info I need to write a good title & description using SEOmatic. Though Google will take text from your site by default, it’s always best to handcraft these excerpts for the search engine results page.

Go-live checklist - Page Title & Meta Description

4. Image Alt Tags

Ugh, this is my LEAST favorite of all tasks— but an important step for SEO. When I’m in the “flow” of designing a site I never take the time to stop and tag all the images properly. Depending on the image library size this can be done pretty quickly in one sitting. Craft CMS has standard support to manage the alt tag of your images. It is important that content managers keep this in mind when adding new content to site.

Go-live checklist - Alt Tag

5. Social Share Images

Don’t settle for the first image on your site being used for the social share image! You can use your SEO plugin to set your social share images. I always set a global fallback image for all the pages, but I also provide settings per page so content managers can choose their own image for social sharing.

Go live checklist seo image

6. Google Map & NAP

For any local business, I like to make sure I’ve embedded a Google Map and been VERY consistent (I mean copy-and-paste perfect) with the Name, Address, & Phone Number.

7. Check All H1 Tags (at least)

During development I try my best to provide a single H1 tag for all pages and I try to make sure that content managers can't add additional H1 tags to a page. They can add tags from H2 to H6 to structure their content on the page.

8. 404 Page

This can also be a page that can be forgotten during development, but it's actually quite important to catch those pesky broken links. So be sure that your website has a 404 page where users can easily get back to a working page on your website. You don't want your users to bounce because of a broken link.

9. 404 redirects

When your replaced an old website with a new one it is important to catch potential 404's because of changed url's. Check if you have a redirect plugin installed so content managers can easily add redirects for 404 pages on the website. Or maybe add them yourself now if you have a list of redirects.

10. Test All Links

I like to use the Integrity app to crawl the website and look for broken links. You don't want to launch your website with 404 errors!

11. Enable Sitemap

Again, I use SEOmatic to generate the sitemap(s). But I double check during this step it is actually enabled, because it is most likely disabled on your local machine and on the staging environment.

12. Test Form Submissions

Before you have real traffic to your site make sure that not only are you forms submitting properly, but that they have the appropriate “reply to” a unique and identifiable subject line, and a unique form ID.

13. Test with Google’s Mobile Friendly Tool

I don’t think Google’s tools for these things are that helpful, but to please the Google-Gods I do it anyway. Run your development URL through Google’s Mobile Friendly tool and make sure it’s getting a pass.

14. Test Mobile Versions

Sure, I’m testing in the browser as I’m going, and I already ran it through Google— but that doesn’t compare to testing your site on a REAL mobile device. I have my main cell phone plus a few old spares that I’ll do a quick run through on the website with to ensure everything is looking right. With so many device sizes it will probably never be perfect, but it’s worth the effort to do your best.

15. Privacy Policy

My customers usually don’t have a clue that a privacy policy is required by law (why should they?). I always provide a basic privacy policy based on a template. During this phase it's time to check that information is filled out correctly and remind the client to update it accordingly.

16. Set Correct Time Zone

Most of the time this is one of the first settings Is set correctly, but it doesn't hurt to double check and set it correct if it hasn't been done yet!

17. Ensure Proper Caching Stack

Time to check the caching beast and its layers! During development I try my best to keep a website as performant as possible without the use of caching. This is the moment I check if template caching is enabled because it can improve loading speed.

18. Check backup settings

Can’t stress this one enough! Check if your backup strategy is setup properly. My default hosting provider does this automatically for files on the server and for all the databases. If you have setup your hosting in the cloud, chance is high you have to set this up yourself. Do it now and safe yourself from the stress when something goes wrong in the future.

19. Check search functionality

If your website has a search functionality it's a good moment to check if works properly. Is it indexing to correct fields to be able to search and are all the section, that need to be searchable, set to be searchable?

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Maxime pardon 2023 11 14 112600 fogr
Written by
Maxime Pardon

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