Launching a new website is a fun - and sometimes daunting - experience.
The first brick that you lay when building your site is deciding on your domain name. This might seem like a simple step, but considering the options that are out there it can quickly become overwhelming.
Thankfully, there are a wealth of domains available that will help make your decision a little easier. Take these, for example:
- .TECH can be used for technology
- .PRESS can be used by journalists and publications
- .STORE is perfect for retail and eCommerce
- .SPACE is a standout for real estate or coworking spaces
- .ONLINE can be used for personal websites or when an offline brand moves online
Your website is where your customers will find out who you are, what you offer and how they can access it. It's the central hub where all of your online traffic comes in. With the stakes so high, you want your website launch to be a success.
To ensure that you've got everything under control, here's the 7 things you need to keep in mind before you release your website out into the world.
1. Set up your site with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
AMP is brought to us courtesy of Google and Twitter. Simply put, it's a stripped down version of a page that allows the content to load faster on mobile devices. Why should you care about this? Frankly, because Google does. Websites that are optimized for mobile are ranked higher in Google search results than those that aren’t. The faster your pages load, the better the user experience and the better your Google ranking.
Remember, your site should be designed around mobile and then optimized for desktops, not the other way around.
2. Secure your backend before frontend
More than the external look and feel, the backend efficiencies of a website determine its success. Get a thorough understanding of how data and content are updated on your site: Are the administration screens and procedures simple to understand and follow? Can they be made more efficient to save time? Do you have the ability to fuel content with consistent formatting and solid SEO? Your backend should be rock solid so that your frontend can serve its purpose.
3. Check the functionality
Before you hit the launch button, ensure that all the features and small details are functioning correctly across your site. These could include social sharing buttons, comments, lead generation forms, email signups, and drop-down menus. Make sure to optimize your site speed so that it loads as quickly as possible. Having an unresponsive function or slow-loading site is a terrible way to turn off a user.
4. Ensure the 404 page is set up correctly
What if someone tries to visit your website but doesn’t make it, because they’ve clicked a bad link on someone else’s website or have misspelled the page URL? The last thing you want them to see is an ugly error warning. One of the ways to avoid this is to set up a custom 404 page on your website. If you aren’t familiar with PHP and HTML, assign this task to someone who is familiar. Alternatively, you can use plugins to build a custom 404 page using plugins such as 404page (this works for WordPress-based websites only).
5. Involve legal to review your copy
A great amount of effort is invested into getting the copy on your website right. Therefore, it is essential that all new content is proofread and approved by someone who is familiar with the legal aspect of the industry you work in. Many industries are heavily controlled, whether that is due to government regulations or through industry practice. You definitely want to avoid receiving a letter asking you to remove something from your site or find out you made a claim you aren’t legally allowed to.
6. Get an SSL certificate
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is an encrypted version of your site that creates a secure connection between your user and your site (HTTP vs. HTTPS). It is a must for every single website, especially if you're conducting any sort of transaction on your site. In fact, Google ranks SSL sites higher than the non-secure equivalents. In 2018, they will even start marking sites without SSL certifactes as not being secure. Get the certificate at the beginning of your project to avoid any mixed content errors.
7. Review, repair and retain
The digital world is constantly evolving, which means you’ll have to cater your website to new trends, updates, and changes. It is important to involve your team in this process too. Ask them to actively share their updates and feedback with you so that you can ensure your website is at its best. Additionally, keep your ears open to what your customers are saying about your website. Your site is primarily for them, so their feedback is crucial to its overall success. As a business owner, you always need to have one ear to the ground.
Of course, you will find that even after following these steps (and more), that tweaks will be needed along the way – that is a fact of life in the world of development. Having proper checklists and a plan in place will go a long way to making your website launch a successful one.
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