I am managing web application development for around 12 years now, and till now I have witnessed a number of occasions where we miss some basic stuff before making our website live. We have developed a website with great user experience, awesome content, zero bugs (hypothetically :)), stakeholders are happy, all in all, everything is good but still, there are some minor stuff I believe if we keep them in our checklist before making our website live we will have better results.
I have listed items that are usually in my checklist when we take our website to live, Please note that they are in a random number:
Cross Browser compatibility Testing: This is most essential part as our web application/website will be accessed across major browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera etc.. There are tons of applications available online and offline that can be used for cross-browser compatibility testing.
Some of the free tools are:
Web Analytics: Web Analytics are important to measure traffic on your website, it helps to see and analyze how your web application is being used. There are lots of web analytics available in the market. My personal preference is Google Analytics, but apart from that you can select other Analytics services such as:
Sitemap: A site map is required to allow search engines to index your sites easily and quickly. Generally, a site map is provided in .xml &.HTML format. It is advisable to keep all your sitemaps to your root directories such as www.domain.com/sitemap.xml or www.domain.com/sitemap.html. You can generate a site map for your website easily from tools like xml-sitemaps. If your website is built on any open CMS like WordPress, Joomla etc, search for available plugins. These plugins dynamically generate the sitemaps based on content on your website and help save a lot of your time.
If you already have an XML sitemap or using dynamic XML sitemap generator, it will be a good idea to validate your XML site map. One such sitemap validator is from website planet. It is completely free to use and you can use it as many time as you want. No signups required!
User-Friendly URL’s: If your website is B2C or C2C it is highly advisable to have user-friendly URL’s for inner pages. This will help you in optimizing your website and also help you rank better in search engines. The method of implementing user-friendly URL’s is different based on the technology you are using for coding.
Page Speed Test: I believe it is critical to check for performance of the website even if your website is hosted on UAT or Development server. It actually gives you sense if you have missed anything to implement which might be useful for your website performance. Tools used to perform these tests give you suggestions to improve the performance of your website. It’s not necessary to implement all of them but of source, it’s good to know the factors which might be affecting the performance of your website. I generally use Google Page Test & Web Page Test.
If you are using WordPress you can check this article by Tung Tran on How To Speed Up WordPress Site.
Spell Check & grammar: Even if you read the content, again and again, there are chances of mistakes in Spellings and grammar, it’s always good to run the content through some more eyes and if possible through some tools. I know most of the content is written using Word which has these inbuilt capabilities but there are some items that are directly written on webpages. There are lots of online Spell-checker available that scans your website for the spelling error. Below is some online Spell Checker:
Check for broken links: It’s always good to perform a check for broken links in your website before making your website live. I generally use Xenu, This is a free tool and suffices my needs.
Meta Data Information: MetaData is important for Search Engine Optimization as well as readability and usability for your website, users need to know what’s there on the page. I believe it’s better to have unique Metadata for all your pages. If not all, at least we should have a unique Page Title. For me, the most important Metadata that needs to be included is Page Title, Description & Keywords.
Error page: It really looks bad, when a user sees your code and get to know on which line you have an error or an ugly message that the requested page is not found. This is important for security and usability perspective that you should have an error page that displays user-friendly Error Messages and guides users about next steps.
Setting up 301 redirects: 301 redirects is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. This is important from SEO Perspective. For search engines http://domain.com. http:www.domain.com, http://domain.com/index/, http://www.domain.com/index/ are different URL’s. A search engine recognizes these multiple access points as completely separate websites, although they are the same. This issue is often referred to as Canonicalization.
Validations: Validations are important in order to ensure it decreases the chances of error and improve the performance of your website. I believe following validations need to be confirmed before making your site live:
Configure the backup schedule: I believe it’s better to explore all the options for automatic backup and restoration technique, it’s equally important to test the backups manually in a fixed interval of time. There are several techniques and tools available which does this job. I generally take a backup program from my hosting provider, but if you have dedicated server, you will have to take separate tool.
Protect sensitive pages: If there are some sensitive pages, that you don’t want to be cached by search engines, use robots.txt to exclude them from search engine indexing. Generally, these are administrative pages that you don’t want to disclose to the public.
Well, these were my checklist items, let me know your thoughts and about other important items that you think is essential to check before making the site live. Also, let us know some good useful resources that you use to performs your checks 🙂
Thanks for reading.
(Image Credit: https://stocksnap.io)