E-CommerceSEOWeb Design

The essential pre-launch checklist for your website

We understand your excitement to launch your website, but before you make it live, it’s crucial to ensure that all necessary steps have been taken.

Congratulations! You’ve completed the website you’ve been working on for a significant amount of time, and you’re eager to share it with the world. However, hold off on clicking that publish button just yet.

Even though you’re eager to get your site out there, it’s essential to conduct a thorough pre-launch checklist, which consists of four key parts.

Website design checklist:

During the back-and-forths, client feedback sessions, and design iterations, it’s easy to miss or overlook certain aspects. That’s why we have provided a design checklist to help you identify any design errors.

Start by reviewing the following:

  1. Spacing: Ensure consistent spacing throughout the site, adhering to the designated grid. Are there any anomalies like an 18px spacing instead of 8px? Do all elements have sufficient breathing room?
  2. Colors: Maintain a consistent and harmonious color palette. Are all instances of the brand’s blue truly the correct shade? Have you used global swatches?
  3. Shadows: Check the consistency of light sources for any drop shadows used. Are the blur, opacity, and spread values the same?
  4. Typography: Verify that your font stack is logical and consistent. Are there reasons behind using a particular font style? Are heading sizes uniform? Have you correctly applied italics and bolding where necessary? Do text links appear as intended? Is all text easily readable?
  5. Imagery: Inspect images for any blurriness, pixelation, or anomalies. Are there broken images or excessively large file sizes? Have alt tags been provided for all non-decorative images?
  6. Logo: Though it may be considered just another image, the logo holds significant importance. Ensure you are using the latest version and that it appears crisp, without any blurriness or pixelation.

Once you have completed these initial visual checks, it’s crucial to ensure that your site’s appearance remains consistent and functional across different screen sizes.

Cross-browser appearance:

Different browsers may display your website differently, so it’s important to test it on various browsers. Analyze browser statistics from sources like W3 to determine which browsers require more attention during testing. Additionally, during multi-device testing, verify that your layouts, typography, navigation, and other design elements are correctly displayed.

The elements that commonly vary across browsers and thus require careful checking are fonts, colors/gradients, images, and logos.

Ensure that your website is visually appealing and functions flawlessly on all types of devices.

With the vast array of web-capable devices available today, it’s essential for your site to perform well on any screen size. As a perfectionist, it’s important to double-check this aspect.

Mobile navigation is particularly critical in this regard. Test the user’s ability to navigate your website on touchscreen devices and ensure a seamless transition between different devices.

Webflow simplifies cross-device testing by allowing you to easily test on popular devices and preview your website on various screen sizes, all within one platform. However, real-world testing on different devices is still recommended, as small details may vary on actual devices.

Optimizing images

Images and graphics play a significant role on many websites, so it’s crucial to ensure they display correctly, especially on high-definition devices like Apple’s Retina screens.

A general rule is to upload images at twice the size they will appear on your site. In some cases, you may need to upload two versions of an image: one at its actual size for lower-resolution devices and another twice the size for high-resolution devices.

The rationale behind this is that larger image sizes lead to slower page loading times, resulting in a poorer user experience and negatively impacting SEO. Webflow offers automatic scaling, compression, and optimization of images for every device. You can learn more about the responsive images feature or explore a detailed article on image optimization.

Testing website functionality

Design and functionality go hand in hand, but it’s beneficial to separate them to ensure that your website both visually aligns with the intended design and performs as intended.

Integration testing

Integration testing is highly important and can range from a quick task to a more extensive one, depending on the number of integrations your website has. It’s advisable to create a list of integrations as you add them to avoid overlooking any during testing.

Some common integrations to test include:

  • Web forms: Verify that the forms function correctly and that submitted information is sent to the correct destination.
  • Autoresponders
  • Marketing emails (e.g., MailChimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot, drip campaigns)
  • RSS feeds
  • Ecommerce functionality
  • CRM integration
  • CMS integration

Link testing

Checking links is a crucial step as most websites contain numerous links, and it’s not uncommon to have a few broken ones. It’s important to identify and fix these issues before your end-users encounter them.

Key links to check include:

  • Top navigation links
  • Footer links
  • Social media links (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
  • Logo (usually linked to the home page)

Instead of manually testing all links, consider using a link crawler tool like the W3C Link Checker, the Chrome plugin Check My Links, or Screaming Frog (which is also useful for SEO audits). These tools can streamline the link testing process.

Give credit where credit is due.

The importance of content cannot be overstated, and the testing process should be appropriate for such a vital element. Typically, this involves ensuring that all content is up to date and approved. It’s surprising how many websites still have random lorem ipsum paragraphs scattered throughout.

If you follow a content-first design approach, you should already have finalized content in place, allowing you to focus on meticulous review, such as proofreading for spelling and grammar errors.

It’s worth noting that it’s acceptable for content to be modified later on. Clients, team members, or even yourself can always make adjustments to the text through a content management system (CMS). The primary objective is to ensure that your website’s content is coherent and meaningful.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Analyzing and improving your website continues even after it’s published. It’s an ongoing process, and considering the semantic structure of your site from the beginning is crucial. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from conducting an SEO review before publishing.

There are several actions you can take to optimize your website for search engines.

  1. Implement proper semantic structure

Search engine crawlers, such as Google’s bots, scan your website to gain an understanding of its content. This allows search engines to display your website when relevant queries are made. To facilitate effective crawling, it’s important to use language that these bots can comprehend.

Traditionally, this involved utilizing the following semantic tags:

  • h1–h6 (heading tags)
  • p (paragraph tags)
  • ul/ol (unordered and ordered Lists)

You can also go above and beyond with some new HTML5 semantic tags:

  • <article>
  • <aside>
  • <details>
  • <figcaption>
  • <figure>
  • <footer>
  • <header>
  • <main>
  • <mark>
  • <nav>
  • <section>
  • <summary>
  • <time>

These tags are important because they let you identify the content that’s most relevant to users. In short: making it easy for search engines makes it easier for users to find you.

2. Meta SEO tags

In addition to optimizing your on-page structure, you can assist web crawlers in understanding your website by providing descriptive titles and descriptions for your pages as a whole. We have condensed a few tips on website SEO from our blog into two primary considerations outlined below.

Meta title

The meta title of your page corresponds to the linked text that users see on search engine result pages (SERPs). It also appears on the browser tab when users navigate to your page. Here are some recommended practices:

Clearly define the central topic of the page

Ensure it is no longer than 70 characters, including spaces

Incorporate relevant keywords

Place important keywords at the beginning of the title

Meta description

The meta description is a brief sentence or two that summarizes the content offered on your website. It may appear below your meta title in search results.

Consider the following best practices:

Include keywords that accurately describe the page’s content

Keep the description within 160 characters

Write the description with users in mind, as search engines do not use descriptions for web rankings.

3. Open Graph settings

Social media has become an integral part of SEO, making it essential to enhance this process by providing effective Open Graph information. Open Graph settings consist of three components: title, description, and an image.

The title and description adhere to the same guidelines as their SEO counterparts, but instead of appearing in search results, they serve as the default title and description when your website is shared on social media platforms.

This feature is highly advantageous as it allows you to control the messaging and image associated with your website when others share it, enabling you to maintain brand consistency and influence the user experience.

Analytics.

Continuously analyze and assess.

Setting up website analytics is another vital step to take before launching. Creating a Google Analytics account is free, and integrating it with any platform and is remarkably straightforward.

Once configured, you’ll gain instant access to track visitors and monitor user engagement on your website.

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