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Website launch checklist

by Randall Craig on December 11, 2015

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Web development

Tagged as: , , , ,

While websites aren’t new, most organizations only redesign their website every 3-4 years – which is just enough time for everyone to forget what needs to be done to properly launch it. While every website (and organization) is unique, here is a partial list of activities that can help:

Three months prior to launch:

  • Confirm metrics to evaluate the success of the new site.
  • Integration points with existing systems defined.
  • Revise existing traditional marketing collateral.
  • Amend social media editorial calendar to take into account the new site launch.
  • Identify campaigns, advertising (and any communications) that promotes the website, or a landing page URL.
  • Review website legal terms and conditions for potential update.

One month prior to launch:

  • Demonstrate website (design and functionality) with a wider internal audience.
  • Update graphics within marketing collateral that reference the website.
  • Prepare internal communications plan.
  • Prepare external communications plan (including prospects/members/clients/regulators/customers.)
    • Design launch collateral (postcards, direct mail, posters, etc.)
  • Schedule appropriate Social Media posts to support launch.
  • Train front line staff on answering queries about the new website.
  • Site security regime in place and tested (certificates, firewall code, intrusion detection, reporting, recovery, etc.)
  • Final usability testing.
  • CSS/HTML code is validated and compliant with standards.
  • Legal compliance testing (Accessibility/WCAG standards, Privacy, and CASL/CAN-SPAM.)
  • Collect screen shots of all [existing site] lead generation forms for proof of CASL compliance.
  • Review all content (images, videos, text, etc) to ensure all is appropriately licensed and documented.

One week prior to launch:

  • Final content updates.
  • Robots.txt and (dynamic) sitemap.xml files created.
  • Site speed optimized.
    • Code “minified”, graphics optimized, site cached, content distribution networks enabled, etc.
  • Finalize reporting dashboard(s).
  • Even more testing:
    • All forms work correctly, including user feedback when incorrectly filled out.
    • All ecommerce transactions work correctly.
    • All password-protected areas of the site work correctly (and are secure.)
    • All placeholder content (eg “lorem ipsum”, “Hello World”, etc.) removed from site.
    • Error pages work as expected.
    • Final review for bad links.
  • User content update training is completed.
  • Website training for call center/receptionist/front-line staff.
  • Website preview for selected audiences (internal and external, including media.)
  • Back-up and restore systems tested.

Launch

  • Update “redirects” so that old URLs are redirected to new URLs.
  • Final test for bad links and errors.
  • Cut-over tracking tools (Google webmaster, Google analytics, Yahoo Web Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst, etc.)
  • Change links in internal systems.
  • Cut over changes in CRM and Marketing Automation systems.
  • Cut over uptime monitoring and back-up systems.
  • Update Social Media.
  • Internal and external communications.
  • Kick off traffic generation plan (Pay-per-click advertising, SEO, etc.)
  • Update corporate signature on outgoing emails.
  • Copy of “Final” version of the site is made.
  • Hand over from the web development team to the support team.

Post launch

  • Post mortem review meeting: what went right or wrong.
  • Daily/weekly/monthly monitoring (Social Media, Web analytics) for issues.
  • Double check Google to ensure the site is fully indexed (and tweak robots.txt and sitemap.xml).
  • Development and Feature roadmap planning session.

This week’s action plan:  Print this Tipsheet, and file it in your web folder – then forward it to others on your web team.  And if you’re feeling helpful: what else would you add to this list?

Marketing Insight:  Almost every marketing and communication activity involves some connection to the web, which means that this list can be easily adapted for…

  • a new microsite,
  • specific landing pages,
  • new service or product pages,
  • a change in information architecture,
  • a design or interface change,
  • new functionality.

The list can also be adapted for the launch of an intranet or extranet.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com

www.108ideaspace
.com
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com

 

About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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