13 May 2021

21 points to check before launching your business website

The launch of a website comes after months of hard work which includes meticulous planning, creative designing, and efficient development. This can be exciting but can also cause some anxiety. Before a website is launched, it should go through multiple testing phases and prechecks to ensure there are no technical snags and compatibility errors that may disrupt the launch, make the site difficult to use, or interfere with the functionality of the website.

Below are 21 points you should check for a hassle-free website launch:

1. Browser compatibility

Before going live, check your website on multiple browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. The look and layout of your website should stay consistent across web browsers. Look for any extreme disparities or layout discrepancies that need to be corrected.

2. URLs

All the URLs of the website must be checked thoroughly immediately after launch to ensure they are functioning properly. Keep the URLs short, clean and SEO-friendly.

3. Images

All the images on your website must load properly without delays. Optimizing image size will ensure better website speed and performance. Additionally, all website images must have descriptive alt tags that explain to search engine crawlers what the image is about.

4. CTA buttons

Check if all the CTA buttons on the website are linked correctly. Learn more about five types of CTAs your business’s website must-have for higher conversions.

5. Forms

A website can have one or multiple forms such as a contact form, an opt-in form, or a sign-up form. Before the launch, fill out the forms and check to see if they are functional. Check if the details submitted via different forms reach their respective destinations. Check if the sender receives an acknowledgment message or email once they are done submitting a form. Keep the forms short and simple to fill out.

6. 404 pages

If a user requests a webpage that does not exist, is your website ready with a custom 404 page to display? A 404 Not Found error page shows up whenever visitors request a page on your website that does not exist. However, instead of showing them a scary 404 page that could potentially drive them away from the website, a cleverly designed custom 404 page will let the visitors know what went wrong and guide them about where to go next. Here is an excellent example of a creative custom 404 page.

website development checklist Custom 404 page example
Photo credit – https://optinmonster.com/best-404-page-examples

7. Site speed

Your website’s load speed should not exceed 3 seconds. A website that loads slowly will hurt your website rankings and can cost you valuable leads. Run your website on a speed test tool to check its current speed. There are many optimization steps such as browser caching and CSS and JavaScript minification to improve website performance.

8. Mobile device check

Run your website on multiple mobile devices and screen sizes to make sure it is 100% responsive. A responsive mobile-friendly website will auto-adjust to seamlessly fit all screen resolutions and deliver a quality user experience irrespective of the device.

9. Security

SSL certificates are a must for all websites. Even if your website does not conduct any monetary transactions, you should get a certificate so that you have an HTTPS site URL. Additionally, make sure to take all security measures to protect your website from hackers and virus attacks. Install and frequently run anti-virus software and make sure the computer used to access the website files is free of malware. Always use a strong password to protect your data and files.

10. Content

Proofread the website content multiple times to check for grammatical errors, typos, and discrepancies in font size and type.

11. Remove Test content

Carefully go through the website to make sure there is no test content and test pages that may go live with the launch.

12. Social media icons

Make sure all social media icons are correctly linked to your business’s social media profiles.

13. Favicon

Favicon helps website visitors locate your website when they have multiple tabs open. It also serves as a branding element for your business. If you forgot to add one before, make sure to add it during the pre-launch check process.

14. Sitemap

A sitemap is the map of the website that helps search engine spiders navigate through it. It outlines the website’s structure displaying various sections of the website and how they are interlinked. A well-structured sitemap allows better indexing and supports search engine optimization.

15. Robots.txt

Don’t forget to add a robots.txt file to your website’s root directory. A robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers which sections of the website they can and cannot request, and is required to avoid page request overload.

16. Google Analytics

Creating a Google Analytics account and setting up the tracking code before launching your website will allow you to track your website’s traffic from the start without losing any valuable data.

17. Google Search console

Create a Google Search Console account for your website and submit your sitemap to ensure website indexing. Google Search Console will also point out any technical errors you may have overlooked.

18. Title and Meta tags

Work with your SEO team to have your website optimized for higher search engine rankings by adding keyword-focused Title and Meta tags in an SEO-friendly format.

19. Schema Markup

Schema markup is a microdata language that makes your website’s search result listing more attractive by pulling out and displaying relevant data from your website. Additional information such as related images, reviews, ratings, event time, etc can be communicated to search engines via the schema markup. This allows them to show this information to visitors through their search results. Here is an example:

schema markup search result example

20. Website code and CSS validation

Run the website code and CSS validation tests to make sure your website’s coding is clean and error-free. Using tools such as W3C Markup Validator is a good way to spot and fix errors and clean up your code.

21. Backup

Always keep your website’s latest backup for emergency scenarios to avoid losing your website data.

Oftentimes, the excitement of the launch and the stress of meeting deadlines take our attention away from small but important details that could, later on, turn into bigger problems. Website testing and prelaunch checks are critical to a successful website launch and must be included in your prelaunch schedule to avoid last-minute chaos and stress.

For professional website design and development services in the Caribbean region, contact the expert team of designers, developers, and content creators at WebFX. Headquartered in Port of Spain, Trinidad, WebFX provides website and digital media solutions across the Caribbean and South American Countries, with clients in Antigua and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad, and Guyana. Learn more about WebFX website development and digital marketing services.

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06 May 2021

Checklist for hiring a website design and development company if you are not tech-savvy

When hiring a website design and development company, many businesses do not know how to assess their options. Hiring a team that does not have the right skill set and experience can be devastating for your business website and digital marketing efforts. Businesses may find the hiring process challenging due to a lack of technical knowledge in website design and development. Even if you are not tech-savvy, with the help of some fundamental hiring questions you can properly assess website design companies and make an informed choice.

We have put together 9 questions you should ask potential website design and development teams for assessment during the hiring process:

1. Years of experience?

Ask the team about their years of experience in their field of expertise. Companies that have a greater number of years of experience with design and development websites typically have more knowledge and development skillsets. This does not mean that a company with less experience will not be able to do a good job. However, more experience is usually a reliable indicator of a team’s capability. Look for work experience spread across multiple niches when assessing teams.

2. Work portfolio?

By going through a company’s past work, one can discern whether or not the prospective website design and development company is skilled at creating professional websites. The websites should be able to support and enhance a business’s online marketing and sales structure. Ask the potential design partner for proof of work and the types of websites they have designed and developed to appraise their expertise and range. Keep in mind you need to look at the functionalities of the websites created and not necessarily the business itself. For instance, if you are looking to create a website that allows your clients to book appointments online, check to see if the team has created this type of functionality for a website. The website need not be in the same niche as you. As long as the function you want it to perform is the same.

Go through work portfolio of potential website design and development companies to assess your options

3. Client testimonials and reviews?

Another strong indicator of a website development company’s competence is what their previous and existing clients have to say about their work. Client testimonials are a sneak peek into what you can expect. Go through as many client testimonials and reviews as possible. You can take it a step further by contacting those clients to verify the reviews and testimonials and get more information on the website agency’s capabilities, culture, and work ethics.

4. Where are they located?

Although this has nothing to do with a website agency’s technical prowess, choosing a design partner located in the same region as you can help with faster communication, especially during the initial stages of the design and development process. A big difference in the time zones between your locations can cause a delay in communication and inconvenience. Sometimes, cultural factors and language can cause hindrance in smooth communication and execution of the design and development process.

If you are a business in the Caribbean, you can contact WebFX. We are a Caribbean website design and development company located in Port of Spain, Trinidad, with almost 10 years of experience in web development. Working with clients across the Caribbean and South American countries, we have a clear understanding of the culture and the people in our region.

5. What is the process for ongoing maintenance and updates?

Your website will be your business’s online representation. As your business evolves and expands, your website will need to reflect these changes. Websites also require regular updates to comply with the latest technology and search engine requirements. Businesses should have a technology partner that they can engage to incorporate such changes, and for quick resolution of technical emergencies. Ensure the website development team you choose to work with has a clear and transparent process in place for ongoing maintenance tasks as well as website updates.

6. Basic training?

You or someone you trust on your team should have a basic understanding of how to use the website. This will allow you to make minor updates such as adding blog posts, changing contact details, and event images on your own. Ask your potential website development company if they will give you basic training on the website’s backend functionalities and usage.

Make sure your website design and development company will give you basic training of how to use your website

7. How will the website hosting work?

A website is a collection of files such as codes and images that are hosted on a server. Website hosting refers to allocating space on a webserver to store your website files. Internet users access your website stored in such webservers using the world wide web. Ask your website development company where will your website be hosted. If they are going to host your website, then what would be the procedure to move hosting in case you choose to work with a different company in the future. This point is slightly technical but very important.

8. Will the website be built using a content management system?

A content management system (CMS) is a platform that makes editing websites quick and simple even for non-technical persons. A website built using a good CMS will not require you to know HTML or CSS coding to be able to make changes.

Currently, WordPress is the most popular CMS for website development. The website design and development team at WebFX is well-trained and skilled in using WordPress with a focus on creating clean, responsive, and professional websites.

9. Do they follow SEO best practices?

SEO or search engine optimization is essential for your website to rank high on search engines like Google and Bing. Higher rankings bring increased visibility and organic traffic to the websites. Ask your potential website design partner if they have experience in creating SEO-friendly websites? Will they include on-page SEO elements on your websites such as Meta tags, sitemaps, and robots.txt files?

A website is an important part of your business’s digital marketing and online promotion. Therefore, finding the right web partner is an important task. Read more on 3 Crucial ways your website design company supports your business.

Partnering with a website team that understands the importance of your business’s online goals, is necessary to create a website that works in harmony with your digital marketing plans. Take your time to evaluate your options. Use the points mentioned here and research well before you finalize a team. Good luck!

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