Launching a new WordPress site is an exciting thing. After spending weeks or months in the planning, developing, designing and organizing, it’s finally the time to bring your new website to the world. However, you shouldn’t take the site online in a rush manner without making sure everything works fine, since you will certainly want all your users to have a good user experience from the first day your site is launched.
In fact, there are lots of things to do before launching a new website. Finishing these tasks well helps make the site professional and stand out from the very beginning. Wondering what to do exactly? Then refer to the following WordPress website pre-launch checklist. All of the tasks included in the checklist are must-do things no matter which type of WordPress site you have built.
Secure WordPress Login
Due to the vast popularity, WordPress has become the target of numerous hackers. The way that most hackers try to get into WordPress sites, then, is to steal the login credentials. This kind of attacks is called brute force attacks. Once the hackers guess your admin username and password successfully by using an automated program, they will mess up your site soon.
Fortunately, you can do something to protect your WordPress site against brute force attacks. This includes protecting the login page, and secure usernames and passwords. Below are some more practical methods.
- Change the default “admin” user to another unpredictable username.
- Create complicated passwords for admins and force strong passwords for all other users too.
- Limit login attempts to lock out illegitimate logins.
- Use a custom login URL instead of “/wp-admin/”.
- Remove or change the error message.
Install a Backup Plugin
Keeping fresh backups of your WordPress site is necessary. After taking your site online, you should always make sure local backups are available so that you will get a way out whenever anything unexpected happens (for example, when your site is hacked, or when a significant change breaks down your site).
There are many backup plugins which offer automated backups and are easy to setup. Some are free, while some others are paid. With a good plugin like BackWPup, you can create and schedule backups in minutes. The automatically created backups can be stored to an external storage like Google Drive and Dropbox for security.
Clear All 404 Errors
404 errors not only badly affect the user experience, but also bring negative results to search engine rankings. So before launching your WordPress site, you have to make sure that all pages load properly, and no broken link is found.
After taking your site online, you can set up your site with Google Search Console and browse the 404 errors in the crawl reports. But for now, you cannot do this since your site is not online yet. A good solution, then, is to manually check all the important pages on the new site, such as the login page, registration page and contact us page. A custom 404 error page is also needed.
Set up Branded Emails for the New WordPress Site
Branded email accounts with your domain name included are important because they help increase readers’ trust and build up your brand awareness. Sending email notifications and newsletters with such email addresses makes your online presence more professional.
Generally speaking, there are two simple ways for setting up branded emails: to create email accounts in your web hosting control panel, or to purchase a professional business email service like Google Apps for Work. For detailed instructions, read this tutorial.
Check the Videos and Images
To guarantee the user experience, you have to make sure that all the videos and images on your site are properly loaded and optimized. No broken images should be found.
Also, you should try playing your videos with different web browsers and devices. In addition, make sure that videos are pulled from external resources like YouTube and Vimeo. Never upload videos directly to the server on which you WordPress site resides if you are using a shared server.
Test the Website Design
A good design makes navigation easy, attracts users’ attention, and makes it a pleasant thing to view your content. To guarantee that your website design can work perfectly, you have to:
- Make sure the favicon works properly.
- Make sure your business’s logo is linked to the homepage.
- Preview the site design in all popular modern browsers including Chrome, IE, Safari and Firefox.
- Test the responsive design on phones and tablets.
Test All Social Buttons
Social media integration helps spread your content to a wider audience, thus increased traffic and a higher conversion rate can be expected. To achieve these goals, you should have already added social share buttons to your WordPress site.
Before making your new site open to the public, you need to test all the social share and social following buttons to make sure they work, so that your readers can connect with you easily on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A monitoring tool is also suggested in order to track the social metrics and measure your marketing progress.
Make Sure All Forms Work Properly
All the forms on your WordPress site are important since they enhance the interactions between you and your users. Therefore, before any user can access the forms, you must test all of them including the contact form, comment form, login form, registration form and newsletter subscription form one by one to find out any problem that might affect the functionality.
All of the following things must be true with your WordPress site.
- All forms can be submitted properly.
- All forms can email to the correct email addresses.
- All forms display the correct messages or redirection upon successful submission.
Test the Website Speed
Fast page loading speed is essential to search engine rankings, page views, and conversions. To get rid of any potential performance issue that may stop you from making a success in the future, you’d better test your WordPress site for another time. This can be done by using tools like Google Pagespeed and Pingdom.
Besides, you can certainly take some more steps to speed up your website in advance. The effective and commonly adopted speeding-up methods include:
- Selecting a good WordPress hosting package. A fast server is crucial to fast page loads.
- Installing a cache plugin.
- Using a CDN service like MaxCDN or CloudFlare.
- Deleting any unneeded things.
Install Google Analytics on Your Site
Google Analytics is a necessary tool for all types of websites, and it has been installed on numerous WordPress sites. With Google Analytics, you can track your website traffic, learn about your audience and get ideas of website optimization in an easy way, and for free.
By adding Google Analytics to your WordPress site, you will get yourself well-prepared for future traffic analyses. Besides, you are able to receive a record for the launch day, so that you can measure your site’s growth more easily later. There are two different ways for installing Google Analytics: by installing a plugin, or by adding the tracking code to your site. Which to choose depends on your preference.
Check Your WordPress Site for SEO
Search engines are the largest sources of website traffic. By optimizing your site well for the popular search engines like Google, you can expect good traffic that grows steadily soon after the site is launched.
You can easily check your site’s SEO factors with Yoast SEO, a plugin which is quite easy-to-use and feature rich.
To be more specific, you need to confirm all of the following things.
- All URLs are optimized with keywords and the proper length.
- All posts and pages have good meta descriptions, the proper titles, and the proper keyword density.
- Categories, tags and author archives are not set up to be indexed, which helps prevent duplicate content issues.
- Internal linking has been built up.