The design has been coded, the copy is written, and images are uploaded. And now you’re ready to make it live, but wait a just a second... We all know launching a brand new website is a very exciting moment, but there a few things to check off the list before opening that bottle of champagne and finally making it live.
1. OG Tags
When you’re sharing your website on social media Open Graph protocol enables you to add/customize the text and image that appear on the card that social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter generate.
Here are the essentials to add to the head of your HTML (simply update the information in content):
<meta property="og:title" content="Website Title" />
<meta property="og:type" content="website" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://www.website.com" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://www.website.com/image.jpg" />
Twitter is a little different in that you can customize your thumbnail size/type:
<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary" />
<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image" />
And here’s a couple handy tools to test your own site:
Understanding who your users are and how they’re interacting with your site is extremely valuable information. So be sure to gather as much as possible. Here’s a few tools that can help:
- Google Analytics: Gives you all the essentials to monitor traffic and users on your site for free.
- Heap: Capture all events (clicks, taps, gestures, form submissions, page views, etc.), visualize trends, create funnels, and segment users (paid).
- Hotjar: Gives you heatmaps, visitor recordings, conversion funnels, form analysis, feedback polls, surveys, and even find user testers (paid).
3. Test, Test, and Test Some More
- Browser Test: Be sure to check how your site looks in all the major browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and IE) and well as devices (iPhone and Android). My go to is Browserstack where I can access and test all those on my computer.
- Test Features: Make sure those contact and subscribe forms are actually hooked up properly and do a couple test submissions. If it’s an e-commerce site, run a trial transaction. Don’t just assume everything is working. Be positive it’s working.
Make sure to include alt tags on your images. Not only does this make your images accessible to those with screen readers, but it will also help improve your SEO. Double win!
<img src="image/image_name.jpg" alt="Description of image">
We all want our websites to show up at the top of Google’s search list, but that’s no easy task. Google’s search engine algorithm takes a lot of criteria under consideration when ranking your site. Here’s an easy one to tackle:
Add a unique title and description tags in the head of the HTML on every page that contain a keyword:
<title>Short Description of Page | Company Name</title><meta name="description" content="A sentence or two description about this page." />
6. Page Speed
If your site is taking longer than 3 seconds to load, then it’s too slow. You risk people leaving your site. So run a page speed test to see where your site stands. Here’s a couple things you can do to speed up your site:
- Load scripts at the end of your pages
- Optimize images and videos
- Host images on a CDN
7. 404 Page
Every interaction with your users is important, so don’t risk them visiting a boring, unstyled page when they accidentally mistype your url and arrive on a page in your site that doesn’t exist:
404 pages can be a great opportunity to get creative and show the world your humor. There’s a great tumblr all about this.
It’s easy to forget about that little icon that shows up in your tab bar. But don’t, because then you risk it getting lost in the sea of someone else's other 15 open tabs. All you have to do is export a png at 32px by 32px. And paste this snippet in the head of your HTML:
<link rel="icon" type="image/png" href="images/favicon.png" />
Seems like a no brainer. Once you’ve read through all the content, get another set of eyes on it just to be sure.
Checked all those off? Launch away, but remember this is just the beginning...
Now that you have a site out there for all to see, you should start making a list of ways to improve it. Whether that’s adding fresh content or new pages, improving your SEO, or redesigning certain areas to increase overall conversion rates — the website should continuously grow and evolve over time.