You have designed your website and the CMS works; your content is in place and your client is satisfied. So now you have to launch the website. Right? Wrong. When you are about to launch a website, you may have overlooked several details in your pre-launch excitement and it would do you good to check all elements of your website and give the final touches before you show it to your client.
In this article I will review some essential checks for websites in the pre-official launch periods. Sometimes small details are forgotten or even ignored. If they are rectified in time it will result in better UX and needless costs could be avoided.
A favicon – short for “favorite icon” – marks the tab in which your website is open in the web browser that the user is using. The favicon and the bookmark get saved and so your users can readily recognize your website pages. Certain browsers select the favorite icon if you store it as favicon.ico in your core directory. Ensure its selected continuously and store this in your mind:
<link rel="icon" type="image/x-icon" href="/favicon.ico" />
For an iPhone favicon:
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="/favicon.png" />
Meta Data and Titles
The title of your page is the most essential SEO element and so it’s important that users identify what the page contains. Make sure that the title changes on all pages and is related to the content of the page.
You may think that your design is pixel perfect and then when you try it out it in Internet Explorer you find that the whole thing is broken! Your website must work in all browsers. It’s not necessary that your website be perfect; however, all the elements must work so that your user doesn’t have any hassles using it. The most accepted browsers are Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, iPhone and Chrome.
Everything must be proofread. Read it again and again! Get others to go through it too. There will always be something you will find that you have to correct. Check out if you are able to lessen the text by being specific. Split large text sections into smaller paragraphs. Insert precise headings throughout; make use of lists so users can scrutinize in comfort. Remember the dynamic text, like alert boxes.
Don’t take your links for granted! You could have forgotten to add “http://” to connections to external websites. Ensure that your logo connects to your homepage. Ponder over the working of your links. Is it clear to users who are new? The links must be distinct from the page’s other text. Don’t highlight text that is not a link; that will puzzle users.
Check For Functionality
Test everything completely. Rope in others to check out your website, preferably people from your target market. Don’t ask close relatives or friends to test it. Watch carefully how users use the website. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find out when you see persons other than yourself use the website in an entirely different way than what you thought they would use it. Things that must be checked include contact forms, shopping baskets, search functions and log-in places.
100 % Validation
You aim should be 100% validation for your website. If your website doesn’t validate it doesn’t mean that you’re finished; but it’s essential to know why it doesn’t. In that way you can mend any errors. Common faults include absence of “alt” tags and closing tags; using “&” and not “&” for ampersands.
If you have a blog/newsreel in your website includes, you need an RSS feed to your users can subscribe and which they can easily find. The normal practice is to install an RSS sign in the address bar of the browser.
Try this code between your <head> tags:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Site or RSS title" href="link-to-feed" />
Install an analytics tool. It’s vital for computing statistics to check your website’s performance and the success of your rates of conversion. Keep track of daily exceptional hits, monthly views of pages as well as statistics of the browser. All this data is useful, so track them from the very first day. Tools you may use include Google Analytics (it’s free and a favorite one); Kissmetrics, Clicky, StatCounter and Mint.
Add a sitemap.xml folder to the main directory; search engines will be able to comfortably index the website with it. This file shows web crawlers to every page on your website. XML-Sitemaps will create a sitemap.xml file automatically. Upload the file to your core directory to make the location http://www.exampledomain.com/ sitemap.xml.
Defensive Design Element
The 404 page is the most frequently overlooked element of defensive design. If users ask for a page which is not in existence, your 404 comes into view. This may take place for many reasons. It could be another site getting linked to a page which does not exist. Provide the user a helpful 404 page which takes him/her to the homepage or points out to pages that attract them.
You will need a back-up plan if your site moves off a database. You will regret it someday if you do not have one. If you are using WordPress, install WordPress Database Backup. This will enable you to automatically set up email for you back-ups.
Print Style Sheets
If a user wishes to print a page, he/she may want just the main content; not navigation or additional design features. So it’s an excellent idea to create a style sheet that’s print-specific. Remember, some CSS elements, like floats, don’t print well.
In today’s fast world people don’t have the patience to deal with slow loading or slow opening websites. Ensure that all your website pages and images as well as videos load quickly, or visitors will leave your website and you will lose traffic. Website speed is dependent on the server you are hosted on. Call up your host if your site is loading slowly.
Your website must be easily readable. People can’t read green text when the background’s black. Black text on white background is the most common color scheme. So use it. Your font size must be standard so that people can read easily. They will quit if they have to strain their eyes to read.
Being creatures of habit, human beings establish routines either consciously or subconsciously, to help them achieve their tasks or to make their days and nights more comfortable. In the design/development community too, and in almost all other professions as well as personal environments, this practice is followed. In web design an established custom is noticeable during the launch of a project or a website.
Awaiting Final Payment
Most design as well as development professionals keep the launching on hold until the customer has made final payment. The replies to this query that I got from the social network crowd were: “Wait till the final payment is confirmed;” “Send the client an invoice” and “Get the money.”
These are some of the factors that you must remember before you launch a website. A perfect website will attract people repeatedly. And the word will spread! Remember, the best advertising is by word of mouth. Traffic on your site will increase and you will gain all-round! I hope you have liked this write-up. Shall be glad to get your feedback by way of comments!
Written by Alan Smith: Alan Smith is an avid tech blogger with vast experience in various IT domains, currently associated with SPINX Inc., a Los Angeles based Website Design and web development company. Follow Alan on Google+ and Twitter.