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Website launch checklist: 50 essential things to do before (and after) publishing

website launch checklist

Working out how to make a website is an exciting endeavor, and launching it even more so. It’s a rewarding moment to see your site—a culmination of strategic planning and design—go live. That being said, you should do everything in your power to make sure it’s close to perfect by the time you share it with the world.

When it comes to website design, mistakes happen, tasks go unfinished, and sometimes, technology just doesn’t live up to our expectations. For these reasons and more, following a website launch checklist is a great way to ensure you’ve covered all your ground before you click the “publish” button. It should be an integral part of how you plan a website.

From updating your design to ensuring good user experience and performance, continue reading for our curated website launch checklist, including 50 essential things to do before, during and after publishing your website.

Website launch checklist

Here are the top 50 things to do before, during and after you press “publish.” As you read, you’ll see our website launch checklist is broken down into three parts, according to what phase you’re at with your website creation.

Website checklist part one: mapping out your site

Before you start your design, you’ll want to map out how to make your website. From choosing the right website builder to making sure your elements are on-brand, here are twenty tasks you don’t want to overlook during this creative phase.

Some of these are relevant only when re-designing a website, which will nonetheless come in handy in the future.

01. Analyze what needs changing

If you’re redesigning a website, your first step should be to understand the scope of your project. Review your current site and make a list of the things that need to change. This can include everything from visual to broken links that negatively impact performance. It can also include removing pages or sections, or adding new pages and features. Adding an online course for example.

02. Check website speed

One of the great things about revisiting your site’s design is the chance to go back and understand how to optimize content for the highest performance. Run a speed test to figure out what’s holding your site speed back and incorporate this feedback into your updates.

website launch checklist screen shot of checking site speed

03. Research competitors and industry trends

Doing an analysis of websites within your industry is well worth the effort. This task can help you discover popular visual and technical features that will level up your design, making it well worth the effort. Equally important is ensuring it is unique, and offers your target audience a new, better experience than competitors.

It’s also a good idea to investigate what web design trends are making their way onto the scene. Being in-the-know about the elements trending in the web design world will give you fresh ideas, and incorporating these qualities onto your site will make an outstanding impression on visitors.

04. Identify your goals

Whether you’re redesigning your website or building one from scratch, the next thing you should check off your list is identifying your goals for doing so. For example, if it’s an online portfolio, one goal would be to gain more clients; for a business website, or for creating a professional website these goals might include establishing an online presence.

Of course, if you are redesigning your site, you'll have even more to work with. Your goals for this project will additionally focus on improving visual language, performance and user experience.

05. List out action items

Understanding your goals will naturally lead you to think of the practical steps needed to accomplish your website launch. A detailed list of action items will help you stay accountable to the tasks at hand, while helping you manage and track them.

We recommend using this website launch checklist as a starting guide—but as you get into the nitty-gritty of your design, you’ll want to add more details. Including specifics like dates, item descriptions, and who is assigned the task (especially important when you’re working with a team) will help you reach goals efficiently.

06. Choose a website builder

Finding the best website builder for your personal and professional needs is a must. There are a wide range of these platforms today, suitable for users with diverse experiences—from beginners who've never made a site before, to professional designers.

For example, a content management system like Wix will connect data from your website with a server. The low-code no-code platform uses a WYSIWYG interface and CMS that reveals real-time edits on the user’s display—making the entire website launching process more streamlined and user friendly for beginners.

Research the options, thinking about how much it costs to make a website on each platform, which of them have the features you need, and look out for user reviews before making your decision. In addition, consider checking out an AI website builder (or something more specific to your industry like the best restaurant website builders) to see if they are a good fit for your site.

07. Pick a website host

In order for your final product to appear on the internet, you’ll also need to decide how to host your website. This will ensure it is stored in a web space for visitors to access worldwide. Known as servers, these spaces can be rented and acquired through a website hosting provider, or built locally.

Many website building platforms include free web hosting. Like Wix, these platforms will usually include automatic setup and be protected by security monitoring.

08 . Set a publishing date

A deadline is a lifeline. Make sure you don’t jump into your website creation (or re-creation) process without setting time-oriented goals. In addition to setting a publishing date, you should secure dates for having a draft website ready, getting feedback from your friends and performing a usability test.

09. Learn the steps of building a site

With website builders like Wix, and with plenty of pre-design templates at your disposal, it’s easy to jump into creating your site confidently without preparation. But although you'll have the basic foundations covered, it doesn’t hurt to get a few pointers before you begin.

There are plenty of resources and guides online on how to build a website from scratch which you can review to brush up or expand your knowledge. You might also need to consider using website under construction templates.

Waste no time and create your site from start to finish with Wix's website builder.

10. Decide on a website layout

As you map out how to plan a website, think of it like setting the foundation of your site, since it will determine the arrangement of visual elements on each page. The best website layout for your design will be determined by a variety of factors: the goals of your website, the message you want to convey to viewers, and what kind of content you’ll include.

11. Develop design elements

Running the gamut from your website color scheme to your choice of font—and even more sophisticated design elements like motion—every visual aspect of your site should be taken into consideration when checking off to-dos from your website launch list:

Images: Have high quality images and videos ready. Nothing is worse for your appearance than bad quality images.

Website color scheme: Choose a color scheme that represents your brand or otherwise creates the effect that you want. If you go the minimalistic route, you might want to stick with classic black and white, but bold colors can always make the right statement.

Typeface: Just the same as color, your choice of font should be considered when planning out your website. You might change your mind when you see the site’s design as a whole, but it’s a good start at this point to have a few typeface styles in mind.

website checklist screenshot of orange subscription page

12. Create your website pages

Once you’ve secured basic visual guidelines for your website, it’s time to start building your individual pages. While the number of pages will depend on your website purpose and what type of website you are creating, here are some basic web pages to consider:

Homepage: Since it’s likely to be the first thing visitors will see, aim for a homepage design that’s clean, organized and eye-catching. It should clarify who you are and what you do, and serve as a starting point for visitors to navigate through your site.

About Us page: A space to share your story, values, methods and any other information that defines your brand.

Contact page: When visitors want to reach out, they should be able to get hold of you easily. Be sure to include a contact page with your phone number, postal address, business email address and social media accounts.

13. Optimize photos

When it comes to photos, quality is everything. Ensure your images are the appropriate file type, because this will affect size and quality. Since Wix supports several image formats, you shouldn’t run into any issues.

Pro tip: If you’re uploading a large photo, only to have it display very small on your website, that’s a waste of online storage for you and loading time for your visitors. When you can, resize your photos to the resolution they will display at.

14. Include your logo

Want to strengthen your brand presence? Whether it's a personal brand or business, including your logo across your website will be the culminating factor for branding its design.

Typical places to include a logo include your website’s header, at the top of a homepage and especially in the favicon area. A favicon is a small icon that appears on a tab in your web browser that should also display your logo—adding this tiny element only enhances your brand identity.

Don't have a logo yet? Try creating your own with the Wix Logo Maker.

15. Integrate analytics software

Web analytics software will help you monitor your site’s performance and optimize as you grow. These platforms measure various metrics, like traffic and conversions, and help gather insights about how users are arrive at your website and interact with it.

16. Purchase a domain name

A domain name is like your website’s online address. By choosing one that represents your brand, your site will definitely stand out professionally. Not to mention, it will help users find it. You can start by finding the right domain name on registrars like Wix, before you connect it (more on that below) and launch your website.

Learn more: Website name ideas

17. Design a website under construction page

While you're in the middle of your site’s design, it’s never a bad idea to get one page ready for publishing first: that is, a website under construction page. This way, people who reach your URL before your new site is ready will at least stay in-the-know, and anticipate the upcoming reveal of your new website.

Pro tip: Include an email list sign-up form in your under construction page to encourage future engagement with visitors.

screen shot of website under construction page with sans serif font and black background

18. Arrange strategic CTAs

One of the most important elements on your website is how tell your visitors to perform a desired action. Call-to-Actions are what prompt your online audience to do exactly that.

Generally in the form of a clickable text or button with actionable short phrases like "sign up" or "click here," you want to make sure your CTAs are appropriately placed throughout your website.

19. Add an email sign up form

Forms are an essential part of web design and small business—whether it’s a contact form to get visitors interacting, or an email sign up form to build your audience. If you see email marketing in your future, it’s a good idea to set up an email signup form on your site from the get-go.

Wix Forms is an example of an online tool makes creating signup forms easy, including customizable templates and streamlined data collection. Whatever platform you use, be sure to check this off your list so you get a head start on building you email list.

website checklist image of green webpage with sign up form

20. Polish your mobile website design

With mobile internet usage constantly on the rise, and mobile devices accounting for 52% of global internet traffic, providing the best possible web experience for smartphone users is an absolute must.

Once your design elements are in place, and you're happy with the look of your website, preview how your site appears on mobile devices, and make sure it’s either responsive ,or has a design adapted for smaller screens.

Website checklist part two: pre-launch elements

Once you’ve mapped out your website design, you're down to double checking your content and fine tuning the details before the official launch.

21. Optimize on-page SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing your website’s content so it ranks well on search engines. This is an important aspect of organic marketing.

Some SEO best practices to check off your list include (but are not limited to):

  • Adding meta descriptions throughout your site, which tell Google how each page should appear on search engines.

  • Optimizing page speed, which is also a part of good user experience.

  • Adding alt text to images, another way to ensure your site is accessible.

  • Doing keyword research and implementing keywords throughout written content and alt text of your site.

Pro tip: With a website design platform like Wix, you’ll have built-in SEO tools to ensure you check off the most important steps for optimizing on-page SEO.

screen shot of wix seo tool adding title tag to image

22. Link to your social accounts

Social media marketing is an integral part of off-page SEO, and will help you communicate with customers and boost engagement. Once your site is live, you’ll want to have it connected to social media accounts so visitors can follow you and stay up-to-date. In your design, you can include a stylish social bar that displays links to your accounts.

23. Connect or transfer your domain

You’ve purchased a domain already, now it’s time to connect it to your site. Alternatively, if you already have one connected to another site or host, you should transfer your domain to the new one.

Most website building platforms will give you support to connect a domain directly through their platform. Once your domain is connected, individuals can use that address to access your site.

Pro tip: At this point, if you’ve designed a coming soon page, you can publish it for visitors to see.

24. Update copyright year

Most websites include a copyright date at the footer of their site. Before you click “publish,” make sure to add one with the correct year. Although it’s a tiny detail, websites with an old copyright year make the impression they’re out-of-date altogether.

25. Proofread written content

Set aside time to double check your written content for errors. Proofread all text added to your website–from informational copy, to headlines and blog posts. Even better, ask a trusted friend or colleague to peer edit your site, since there's nothing better than a second pair of eyes.

At this point, you’ll also need to replace and filler text, such as lorem ipsum, with the intended content for your site.

26. Test out forms

Your website will likely include forms in order to connect with visitors and collect data from users. This could include an email signup form, contact form, online survey or more. Now’s the time to test out these forms, make sure they function properly for visitors, and ensure the data gets stored.

27. Link logo to homepage

Pinning a logo at the top of your website for all to see is a strategic move. Even better is to make sure you link that image back to the homepage. This is a common—often expected—feature in the user experience, and helps visitors navigating your site get return to the homepage with ease.

28. Review your design

Before you hit “publish,” review your website design from top to bottom to make sure you’re happy with the way it looks. You may want to refer to design theories like the principles of design, to ensure your site follows fundamental aesthetic guidelines like balance and visual hierarchy.

29. Get feedback from a friend

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: two sets of eyes are better than one. Ask a friend (or two) to review your website with diligence. They’ll certainly have a fresh perspective, and can point out elements you may have overlooked.

30. Check for broken links

In the midst of designing a website, it’s easy to link anchor texts to the wrong URLs. Run through each link on your site and make sure it leads to the right place, and isn’t broken. This is something you should ask friends to report on, too.

31. Test out UX

In addition to checking that links work properly on your website, you’ll want to ensure it gives visitors a positive user experience. This means ensuring website interactions run smoothly and making sure nothing impedes the browsing experience.

Testing your site's UX design can include tasks such as (but not limited to): checking that your pages are compatible across all browsers and devices, ensuring content— such as images and video—are uploading properly, and performing a load test to make sure your site can handle increasing traffic.

32. Scan for accessibility

Making sure that all users have equal access to your website is crucial. This is where website accessibility comes in—it gives people with disabilities the opportunity to use and interact with your website.

Run an accessibility audit to ensure your site meets the standards of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and make any necessary changes. When using Wix, the Accessibility Wizard is a one-of-kind feature that will scan your site, point out accessibility issues and guide you to resolve them. For more details on how to make a website accessible, check out our guide.

Screen shot of wix accessibility wizard

33. Update contact information

Whether included in your About Us page, a unique contact page or in the footer of your website—double check that the information you provide users is correct and updated. Especially if one of your website goals is to build an audience and customer base, it’s crucial they are able to be in touch with you.

34. Set up live chat

Since instant messaging like texting or DMs has become a standard—it can only benefit your brand to include a live chat feature on your website. This extra form of communication will increase correspondence, improve customer services and close on more sales

35. Customize 404 pages

A 404 error page online page that appears when you click on a broken link that's no longer available. This can easily happen if someone mistypes the URL as well.

The look and functionality of a 404 page can make or break your customer experience. By customizing a 404 page for visitors, you can make a pleasant visual impression, and include links that will encourage them to continue exploring your site.

36. Write a privacy policy

A privacy policy accomplishes a number of things. First, it lets visitors to your site know what information you will collect and what you will do with it. It also tells visitors how you protect that information, and provides recourse for those who feel that you or a third party has violated their privacy.

Read more about how to write a privacy policy for your website to learn how to satisfy legal requirements and put your customers at ease.

website checklist example of company privacy policy

37. Plan off-page SEO optimization

Off-page SEO optimization means the actions you can take outside of your own on-page SEO to boost your ranking. These include writing guest blog posts that link back to your own site, posting on social platforms, writing in forums and external linking.

38. Organize your list of contacts

Whether you're using a built-in email marketing app, or an outside platform like Mailchimp, start getting your email contacts ready at this stage. You’ll need to set up an official mailing list to promote your website after it goes live.

If you’ve already added an email signup form to your under construction page, it’ll be much much easier to check this task off your list. However, you should spend additional time organizing your contacts, deleting inactive members, and separating contacts into groups based on location, interests and where they sit in your marketing funnel.

39. Prepare social accounts for promotion

Social media will play an important role in spreading the word about your website and getting more visitors. Subtasks on your social media prep list include: strategically gaining new followers, preparing and scheduling promotional posts and adding a link to your website’s domain in all social account profiles.

40. Click publish

It’s not likely you’ll forget this step, but once your design is set and reviewed—it’s time to click that “publish” button and let your site go live. Double check this by plugging in the site’s url into your browser and ensuring your site is displayed properly (don't forget to preview it on mobile).

Website checklist part three: post launch tasks

Now that you’ve officially pressed “publish,” you’ve reached the post launch website checklist. Here are elements you should review and follow up on to ensure your site is visible at its very best.

41. Back up your design

Product yourself against losing your website design and data by setting up a backup plan. In order to do this, you need to choose a backup location and create a schedule to ensure your site’s copies are stored and updated on a regular basis.

42. Perform a usability test

A common practice in UX design is usability testing, and can be extremely helpful for revealing how visitors react to your site. It might be “extra”—but worth it.

Ask a group of targeted users to do a test run, and follow up with questions about their experience of your site. Key observations will include: seeing if the user can complete their tasks, whether or not they enjoy using the site and if it meets their needs. Whenever problems arise, it’s an opportunity to find solutions to users’ frustrations and challenges.

43. Check site’s security with SSL certificate

SSL certificates (the ‘s’ in https://) ensure that data transmitted to and from your site remains private and safe. These small data files connect a cryptographic key to the site owner’s details, establishing an encrypted link between the server and browser.

Generally, an SSL certificate will be provided by your website hosting software, or a third-party app. When building a website with Wix, your site will be automatically equipped with one of the best free SSL certificates in the market.

44. Submit your website for indexing

Once your site is published, it needs to be indexed on Google in order to appear on search engines. In order to do this, sign up for Google Search Console and submit a sitemap. Sitemaps give information to search engines, such as which pages are on your site and when they were last updated.

45. Verify analytics

Double check that your integrated analytics softwares work, and start reviewing the data collected. Your web analytics tools will give you insights on how many people visit your site, what pages they clicked on, if they made a purchase, their location and more.

Since this information can help guide the way you curate your website content, it will prove especially helpful in the first few months after you launch.

46. Test new website's speed

Page speed refers to how fast content on your webpage takes to load, which will impact usability, conversions, and your site’s ranking on search engines. Typically, a page that loads in under three seconds on average is considered a good speed.

One of the most reliable and popular methods is using Google PageSpeed Insights, where you can simply submit your site url and wait for Google to deliver a report on your site's performance.

47. Promote your site

It’s a good thing you’ve already used this website checklist to begin the process of gathering new contacts and setting up your social media accounts. Now that your new website is live, it’s time to promote it to the masses.

There are a combination of resources you can use to advertise the launch of your new website. For one, you can promote it on social media by creating unique posts and stories leading visitors to your new site. Additionally, you can announce the news with an email campaign sent to your list of contacts, and good old word-of-mouth.

website checklist screenshot of social promotion

48. Outline a performance tracking plan

Planning ahead, set specific for regularly tracking your website performance in the future. This includes analytics, speed and scanning for bugs or errors. Whether it’s weekly, monthly or more often—staying on top of how your website performs will give you insights into what works and what doesn’t, and can guide your maintenance plan moving forward.

49. Make it multilingual

You may not have resources for a multilingual website at the start, but as you begin reaching new audiences, locations and languages, it’s something you’ll consider. From translations to localizing content and SEO, read more on how to build a multilingual website before you get started.

50. Map out a maintenance plan

To ensure your site continues to be up-to-date, working at full capacity and performing well, a website maintenance plan is critical. Include a schedule for revisiting tasks—such as updating plugins, checking security, renewing content, refreshing design and ensuring usability—that should be done regularly and addressed when there are issues.

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