12 March 2015 - Jonathan Dempsey

WordPress Websites: 10 things to do before going live

The process of building a WordPress websites can take a long time, from planning, UX, wireframes, design, markup, development and testing. When the website is finally fully tested and ready to be put live, it’s time to press the red button. But wait! Hold it! Don’t press just yet! The following things need to be checked.

Turn off search indexing

When a website is being built for the first time and is being integrated to WordPress, one of the major things to do is to turn off search indexing. The last thing you want while your site is being developed is for it to be tracked down and indexed by Google.

This works in both ways, in that when we are finally ready to launch the site, we must remember to untick that box so that Google can now find us!

Google Analytics

Setting up Google analytics for a site is essential to get right from the start. When a website is launched and announced, the number of people to flock to your site on the first day is a lot more than you would expect, so having Google analytics in there from the start will give you an accurate number of how many people have seen your site on the first day. Another thing to note, is that Google analytics does not display data reports for 24 hours, so if you want to see data on the live site, you will need to install it at least 24 hours before.

Link redirects

Redesigning a site means that a lot of the page titles and URL’s can change. This means going to an old URL might lead to a 404 page on the new site. This is a problem when Google is displaying the old links as it does not realise that they don’t exist anymore.

The solution to this is to find the old links that Google is displaying and redirect those links to the new URL of the new page. This can be done in various ways. The most simple and easiest one is to download a WordPress plugin such as EPS 301 Redirects which will allow you to put in the old URLs and the matching new redirected URL.

Remove any test posts

Don’t press the button just yet! Look back through the site, and be sure to find any pages that was created to test display! When installing the WordPress CMS, it automatically creates a sample blog post called “Hello World” so don’t forget to delete it before launching!

Also, another thing to note when finalising content before putting it out is to change the author of the post to reflect an actual user on the site, not just the editor.

Browser testing

Just because it looks good in Chrome does not mean it looks the same in Internet Explorer! Rigorous browser testing throughout the development cycle is crucial to avoid nasty surprises in the end, but just in case, before pressing the big red button, we do one last sweep through all the browsers and different mobile operating systems.

Favicon

Quite possibly the smallest thing on the website, but should never be forgotten! A favicon brands the tab or window in which your website is open in the user’s browser.

Performance and speed test

Make sure that you test your site and measure its performance! At the Friday Agency, we get all our websites as close to 100% on “Google Page Speed” as possible as this will insure great experience for all users and lead to higher rankings within the Google search results.

Add site title

Every WordPress installation starts with the default title of “Another WordPress Site”. Developing the site without changing the title through development, while is a very bad habit, still occurs widely throughout the internet. So if you are doing that, remember to CHANGE THE TITLE before launching. The last thing you want after you launch your site and sharing it on social media is to realise that the name of your business according to WordPress is “Another WordPress Site”.

Webmaster Tools

Setting up webmaster tools before launching is very beneficial as it optimises the visibility of your site in Google search rankings and allows you to submit sitemaps,  get a list of broken URLs in the site, view statistics on how Google ranks your site and a variety of other tools. Getting familiar with Webmaster tools earlier will give you the benefit of having more control of your website ranking before launching.

Backup

Finally, now that your website is done and all the items in this checklist have been ticked off, make sure to download a copy or a backup of the website and keep it somewhere safe. Alternatively, you can use a backup service such as the one we use in The Friday Agency which is calledVaultPress. It automatically backs up your site every night and keeps 30 days worth of backups at any one time so that you can always recover to an older version of the website.