In the days leading up to the launch, there are several points to check off along the way—from final coding efforts to testing to teasing out what’s to come. Some of these steps may seem obvious, but every detail matters in a launch so it’s important to pay attention to the small stuff as well.
SEO and Mobile Optimization
According to recent studies, mobile devices account for close to half of all global website traffic. This, combined with Google’s mobile-first indexing approach to crawling websites, is proof enough that if your site isn’t mobile optimized, that should be your first “No go!” to launch.
In addition to being mobile friendly, it’s important to ensure you are following common, best practices of SEO to help improve rankings in search results. This SEO infographic is a great reference to keep handy as you do your final checks of the site.
Verifying Key Pages Exist
Just as my colleague Angie Porow mentioned in her comprehensive SEO checklist for site launches, it’s important to make sure you have the mission-critical pages for your site. Those pages include:
- 404 page with an internal site search feature
- Thank you page – if you have any e-commerce or form submission options
- Disclaimer page – if applicable
- GDPR – read more about the importance of GDPR and whether you need to include this information
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) page – if applicable
- Site map
Copy Edit Everything
Proper grammar and spelling are just as important on the homepage or about page as they are on thought leadership content. Whenever you are launching a site, be sure to have a copy editor check all the copy on the site for any errors.
Copy editing a site extends beyond just grammar and spelling though. Other areas to focus on include:
- Registered product names or services
- Facts and statistics
In the final days before launching the site, it’s important to remember to test everything. Just like NASA, you should go through each element on the site in a variety of testing environments to ensure expected and proper functionality. The QA team should conduct tests with a multibrowser and multidevice setup to ensure no users will experience unexpected issues across at least the most common setups.
Testers should click on everything—yes, really, they should click on everything. Is there a link on a page? Then click on it. Is there an embedded video? Yep, click on that too. When I help out with QA testing before a launch, I use this list to help make sure I leave no link, button or other element unclicked.
- Links – inline, global navigation, breadcrumbs, footer, sidebar, etc.
- Audio/video embeds
- E-commerce links
- Email sign-ups
Another thing the QA team should check across the browser/device combinations is the load time for each page. Slow load times are red flags as to which pages need to be looked at further as that negative experience can lead to losing users and potentially lower rankings in search engines.
While the site is in testing, be sure to check Google Tag Manager or a similar resource, to verify that all tracking codes and tags are implemented on the site and the expected data is being captured. You can always update these post-launch, but that means you will forever have an incomplete data history of the site.
Finally, while the site is with QA, have the marketing team double-check that the link with the CRM is functioning and that any automated communication flows are set up and triggering so that a smooth communication experience is in place from Day 1.
Tease That the New Site Is Coming Soon
The last step in the prelaunch checklist is to let your audience know that a new site is coming soon. Teasing the site launch helps to generate anticipation and excitement, which can lead to more engagement on the site. Ideally, you want to start dropping hints about the site for a week or two prior to launch.
One of the best ways to reach your audience is via social media. According to Statista, Facebook has approximately 2.8 billion active users, so chances are high that the majority of your audience is active on the channel. When you are posting about the upcoming site, it’s a good idea to share screenshots of certain sections with copy that entices viewers to check back in for more updates or shares before the expected launch date. Using a mix of organic and paid posts across the main channels for your audience is important to maximize reach.
In addition to social media, you should send out an email blast or include the tease of the new site in an upcoming newsletter. The people on these lists are actively seeking information and ways to engage with your organization and will be highly likely to be regular users of the new site once it’s launched.
It’s important to not forget about your internal audience as well at this phase. Sending out internal communications via email or other communication channels can help to generate excitement and awareness. Include sample text for employees to copy and share on their own social profiles to help expand reach.