Think you’re ready to publish your website?  Think again.  There are a few things you need to check out before you go live on the Internet.

You may have invested a day, week, month or more writing, arranging and designing your website, meticulously observing every conceivable detail.  But even the most experienced web designers set aside extra time to check, double check and triple check their work before it ever shows up in a search engine’s results.

Here is our list of the top 10 things for you to check before you go live with your new website.

1. Domain, Hosting and Visibility

  • Verify your desired domain name is available and appropriate
  • Include references to your domain name in your plans for copy and content
  • Do your research, and make sure you’re choosing a reliable hosting solution

2. Assess Your Content

  • Research what your target audience is looking for to ensure relevant content
  • Your most important content shouldn’t be hidden – make it stand out!
  • Emphasize significance with section headings, bullet points and bold keywords
  • Pictures shouldn’t dominate your layout; let visitors click for larger images

3. Evaluate Your Copy

  • Spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Consistent capitalization (such as Internet vs. internet)
  • Word variants (like touchscreen vs. touch screen)
  • Style and voice consistency; the entire site’s content should have similar tone
  • Large paragraphs should be broken down into smaller ones or better yet, lists

4. Optimize Links

  • Be certain that all of your links work
  • It’s equally important to make sure that links stand out from ordinary copy
  • Use bold type or better yet, underline links; don’t underline regular copy
  • Make linked words informative; instead of “click here” try “visit our products page

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Planning

  • Page titles are critical SEO elements; make sure they include keywords
  • Make your content unique; avoid creating a carbon copy of your competition
  • Avoid redundancy in your copy; keyword stuffing is an SEO no-no
  • Develop a plan to measure SEO effectiveness with metrics like Google Analytics
  • Use Meta Elements; they are less crucial now than in the past, but they can help

6. Functional Testing

  • Ensure your site works on all browsers; use a free resource like Browsershots
  • Test all pages to ensure content isn’t muddled by varied screen resolutions
  • Make sure any forms are functional and that they perform as you intended
  • Check site map and search bar for accuracy, functionality and relevance.

7. Performance Analysis

  • Test all page load times and condense bulky multimedia files to maintain speed
  • Ensure that images are clearly visible without hogging up space or bandwidth
  • Ensure that navigation between pages and links is active and easy to follow
  • Observe how others use your site; you may pick up hints that drive design changes

8. Print Testing

  • Be sure that you provide “printer friendly versions” of any page content you anticipate falling into the resource category.

9. Backups & Security

  • Investigate your web hosting firm’s backup services and sign up
  • Look into using a penetration testing service, such as McAffe or nGuard
  • Ensure confidential information is protected and user-editable
  • Observe backup effectiveness by running recovery tests

10. The Finer Points

  • Develop a plan for ongoing maintenance (fresh content, metrics and feedback)
  • Consider creating a Favicon; these little icons help users identify your site quickly
  • If you will be using a blog or newsletter, think about adding an RSS feed
  • Use graceful degradation practices to balance old vs. new browser capabilities

By paying attention to the important concepts on this checklist you will greatly increase the chances of a successful web presence – not only before you publish, but long after you capture your first unique visitor.

Andy’s Web Tools is committed to making it easy for people to manage their own websites and online presence without having to rely on a webmaster.