Website Pre-Deployment Checklist

Before launching any website it is important to ensure quality and functionality. No one wants to launch a site for a client only to get swamped with angry calls and emails because the site isn’t working.

This is a checklist that we use to prevent this nightmare.

Content and Style

Typography and Layout:

  • Check for incorrect punctuation marks, particularly apostrophes, quotation marks, and hyphens/dashes
  • Check headings for where you could potentially use ligatures
  • Check for widow/orphan terms in important paragraphs

Spelling, Grammar, and Consistency:

  • Capitalization (especially of main headings)
  • Tense/style of writing
  • Recurring/common phrases (e.g. “More about X” links)
  • Variations in words (e.g. websites vs. web sites, or UK vs. US spelling)
  • Treatment of bulleted lists (e.g. periods or commas at end of each item)

Other:

  • Check for hard-coded links to staging domain (i.e. ensure all links will change to the ‘live’ URL/domain when site is launched)
  • Ensure no test content on site
  • Check how important pages (e.g. content items) print
  • Ensure that all necessary meta information is filled out (title, description, etc.)
  • For redesigns, ensure important old/existing URLs are redirected to relevant new URLs, if the URL scheme is changing
  • Check all “hidden copy” (e.g. alt text, transcriptions, text in JavaScript functions)
  • Check web font rendering across major browsers
  • Check logos and other key images on retina displays
  • Page Titles are important; ensure they make sense and have relevant keywords in them
  • Create metadata descriptions for important pages
  • Check for canonical domain issues (e.g. variations in links to http://site.com http://www.site.com http://www.site.com/index.html should be reduced to a consistent style)
  • Ensure content is marked up semantically/correctly (<h1>, etc.)

Standards and Validations

Accessibility:

  • alt text, aria, etc.
  • Ensure core content is not locked away in JavaScript
  • All important content should be visible to users who have JavaScript turned off
  • Ensure that responsive layouts look good at all screen sizes and resolutions

Validation and Code Quality:

  • HTML Validation
  • JavaScript Validation
  • CSS Validation

Security

  • Ensure that all data is sanitized and validated
  • Form data should be validation on the Front-End and Back-End
  • Use .htaccess to block access to files that should remain secure Configure backup schedule, and test recovery from backup
  • Protect any sensitive pages (e.g. administration area)
  • Use robots.txt where necessary
  • Security/Penetration test
  • Turn-off verbose error reporting
  • Check disk space/capacity
  • Set up email/SMS monitoring/alerts (e.g. for errors, server warnings); consider internal and external)

Search Engine Visibility, SEO Metrics

  • Check for target keyword usage in general content
  • Check format (user/search engine friendliness) or URLs
  • Set up Google Analytics, FeedBurner, Cloudflare, and any other packages for measuring ongoing success
  • Create an XML Sitemap
  • Configure Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Ensure conversion tracking is enabled for all PPC campaigns
  • Check goals and funnels are correctly setup in Google Analytics
  • Ensure that all metadata descriptions and titles are unique
  • Check all AJAX and other scripts for search engine friendliness. Ensure all relevant content is accessible to robots
  • Ensure all social media meta links are present

Functional Testing

  • Check all bespoke/complex functionality
  • Check search functionality (including relevance of results)
  • Check on common variations of browser
  • Check on common variations of screen resolution
  • Test all forms, including anti-spam features, response emails/text, etc.
  • Test without JavaScript, Flash, and other plug-ins
  • Check all external links are valid

Performance & Optimization

  • Load Test
  • Check image optimization
  • Check and implement caching where necessary
  • Check total page size/download time
  • Minify/compress static (JavaScript/HTML/CSS) files
  • Optimize your CSS; use short image paths; make full use of “cascading nature of CSS, etc.
  • Check correct database indexing
  • Check configuration at every level (Web server, Database, any other software e.g. Content Management System
  • Configure server-based logging/measurement tools (e.g. database/web server logging)
  • Check and configure CDN where necessary for distributed caching and load balancing
  • Use icon fonts where appropriate

Finishing Touches

  • Create custom 404/error pages
  • Create a favicon

Marketing

  • Set up any relevant social media
  • Link social media to site
  • Set up PPC/Adwords where necessary
  • Check formatting of site results in SERPs

Ongoing

  • Monitor and respond to feedback
  • Check analytics for problems
  • Update content

About Beth Rogers

Beth

Beth Rogers is a Web Developer and Consultant living in San Antonio Texas. With over 10 years of experience she helps businesses create beautiful, functional experiences online.

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