Launching a website? Read this checklist.

Sentree’s team is comprised of web developers and server experts, so we are intimately familiar with both the process of developing a website and the task of launching one. Having launched thousands of websites – many of them with unique requirements – we’ve had to navigate virtually ever crisis in the books. We’ve certainly learned a lot along the way. But a plan is only as good as it’s weakest link – meaning that every member of the team responsible for navigating launch day needs to be on the same page. This short guide is aimed at helping do just that. It is a list of some of the things most commonly forgotten or miscommunicated leading up to the launch of a new website. We hope that this will help you ask the right questions, draft a plan, and make sure everybody knows what he or she is responsible for. Without further ado:

1. Thorough Testing

There is no such thing as foolproof testing. There’s also no such thing as testing too much! Make sure you have clear specifications as to what browsers and devices you are intending to support, and make sure you test on every one of them well ahead of launch – repeatedly and often. Don’t wait until the last minute, either. A good team of developers will perform thorough testing, but having a larger test group is indispensable when it comes to identifying allusive bugs before a website goes live. Make sure there is adequate time built in between the completion of initial development and the launch date to allow for testing and bug fixes (HINT: think weeks, not days). Bugs will inevitably still arise – but proper testing procedures will ensure that their number and severity are both minimal.

2. Important SEO Basics

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a broad topic with many facets. We aren’t a marketing firm, so we aren’t even going to try to give you advice on how to maximize your rankings. What we can do, though, is clue you in on a few important pitfalls to avoid related to launching a new website that can really damage your rankings.

3. Backup, Backup, Backup

Nothing is more important than having thorough backups before you begin the launch process – not only of the old website that’s being replaced, but of the new website you are launching as well. You would be surprised how common it is to mistakenly overwrite the wrong database or copy files the wrong direction. Suddenly, you’ve lost something important – only to find out your last backup was 6 months ago. Don’t be that guy. Back it up. Then, back it up again.

4. Hosting

Just as important as the quality of your website itself is the quality of the service that hosts it. If you’re hosting an expensive new website on a $5/mo shared hosting plan, don’t expect your users to have a great experience (not to mention the staff responsible for maintaining the website). Performance, security, and support are vitally important. Here are a few specific questions to consider (and ask your host about if you don’t know the answer):

If those questions aren’t answered in a satisfactory manner, it may be time to look for a new hosting provider! You could sign up for our free trial!

5. Email

In all the hubub over the website, it’s easy to forget about something we all use every day and often take for granted: email. When talking about website launches, one of the most common horror stories you’ll hear is related to email. Many times, launching a website involves making DNS changes, or even changing hosting providers altogether. In the midst of this, it’s easy to forget to ensure that your email service stays in tact, or is properly migrated if it’s supposed to transition. Make sure you know who your email service provider is – is it your web host? Is it a separate service? Make sure you also know where your DNS records are managed – this could be your domain registrar, your web host, or another service provider altogether. Whoever is responsible for coordinating the launch – whether that is the website developer, the hosting provider, an internal IT department, or a combination thereof – needs to be aware of the specifics regarding email to ensure that there is no downtime.

6. Post Launch

Before you even begin the launch, you should already be planning for post-launch. This is another common oversight. We have frequently helped a client through a successful launch, only to have them take the reigns and run into a crisis shortly thereafter due to inadequate internal planning. It’s like driving a brand new car off the lot and getting in an accident with no insurance. Don’t do it! Here’s what you need to be considering while making post-launch plans:

That’s all, folks! We hope this guide is helpful as you are planning your website’s launch. If you’re looking for a managed host to take care of all of these concerns for you so you can focus on your business, sign up for a free trial today!