Building and launching a website is a significant amount of work. Many different parts have to come together to launch a successful product. Critically it needs to be coded with the newest standards, SEO best practices and latest social integration. Being a client you may not always know what these are, and usually, you will be trusting your chosen website developer to implement and test these on your behalf.
When we launch a site, there are many helpful and simple tools we use to check the quality of our work and complete all the pre and post-launch tasks. Most of which don’t require a technical mind to understand so you can even use them yourself, and we recommend you do.
We have mentioned these tools are for launching a website. But most can be used throughout development, and even during the scoping stages.
Trust Your Website Developer
Please also note, these are the most common tools and standards we use, but one size doesn’t fit all they will vary based on project to project. Your website developer will be able to guide you to what is relevant to your site. Have faith they know they are doing. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have hired them!
You may be thinking “Why do I need to bother with this?”, You would be right; your developer should have these steps covered. But it doesn’t hurt for you to know a bit more about the process and also maybe your developer may miss something you may think is important.
One tool we swear by here is an online spell checking and grammar service called Grammarly. They use machine learning to correct common grammatical mistakes, and the browser plugin couldn’t make the process any simpler. With paid premium and free versions, there isn’t any excuse not to check your website’s content before launch, and also your emails!
Review Old Content for Redirections
If you relaunching your site and already have an SEO presence on the internet, it’s crucial that you make sure that any relevant pages which aren’t present on the new website are redirected using 301 headers. To check your current sites content, you can use a simple tool in Google Search by adding ‘site:’ to the start of your websites URL. For example ‘site:alexmcfarlane.com’. This will then show you all the content Google has in its index so you can let your developer know which redirects to setup.
Preview the Site in the Main Browsers and Mobile Devices
To spot cross-browser compatibility problems, view your site in modern browsers and devices. It’s ideal to use as many physical devices and platforms as we do, but this probably isn’t practical for a non-developer. And it’s also impractical for us to have a copy of every device and computer, so sites such as BrowserStack are excellent for testing on multiple devices quickly online.
Check Your Favicon
A favicon is an icon which appears in browser tabs and also sometimes as the icon on mobile devices. It’s often overlooked so make sure you haven’t missed out yours!
It’s all About PageSpeed!
Loading time is an increasingly important metric for search engine ranking. Use tools like Google Pagespeed Insights or Pingdom to see how quickly your site loads. Your developer (depending on the website) should be aiming for a load time of 2 seconds. A 100 score on Google PageSpeed is never really possible without the site being very simple in functionality and design, so we would aim to get green on both mobile and desktop.
Test Social Sharing
To share your content correctly on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter it’s important to add specific code to the header of your website (your website developer can do this). You can preview how your content will look when shared and if it’s working using the tools below. Also, if you have a Facebook tracking pixel installed, you can debug it using their browser extension.
A final tool which we use all the time after a successful site launch is Buffer. It’s our No.1 app for promoting your website on your social channels post-launch. Download the Chrome extension before launch to check your site supports Buffer, it may be difficult to fix after.
Check Your SEO and Analytics
It’s important to check your website’s META data; this is the Google Search result title and description (as well as other elements). You can use online tools to check this, or if you are using WordPress, there are some great plugins to do this automatically (Yoast being our preference). Google webmaster tools are also the powerhouse for general SEO and sitemaps.
Google PageSpeed will let you know about any issues with image sizes. Images usually have the largest file size within a website (apart from video) and they are the cause of slow loading times. Your developer should optimise all images within their code. But any images you upload through a CMS must be saved as the smallest size possible.
Check Your Code is Valid
Your new website is build using HTML. To avoid incompatibilities or issues, use tools like W3C’s Markup Validation Service to check all pages of your site adhere to web standards. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is what your developer uses to make the website look as good as it does. It’s also a good idea to check this is valid also using the W3C’s CSS Validation Service.
Hopefully, you will find these tools helpful on your next project. If you want to recommend anymore, please add your suggestions in the comments below.