When a website finally launches, or relaunches, it’s a momentous and exciting day for the organization behind it. For too many of them, though, the initial thrill of seeing their vision brought to life online turns into disappointment later, once they realize something crucial was neglected in the process.
A careful review of some critical yet commonly overlooked elements prior to launching a website will help to avoid these issues, ensuring that the site is capable of expanding awareness among target audiences and driving visitors toward conversion. Conversely, letting any of these aspects slip could result in more of a dud than a successful launch.
To help, we asked the experts of Forbes Agency Council to tell us about important elements companies commonly forget to review in the commotion before a site goes live. Here, they explore things to double-check to bypass 14 potential website pitfalls.
1. Search Engine Optimization
That’s a big one. I’ve seen many companies lose high rankings when relaunching a website. Most people forget the importance of a pre- and post-live SEO check. When launching, and especially when relaunching, a website, you must make sure that everything is search engine optimized. Check your H1s, H2s, etc., your site structure, your redirects and definitely check your page speed. – Tim Rath, YOYABA GmbH
2. External Media Links
When a website launches, the content and its linkage to external media such as social media and press is often overlooked. Short and catchy headlines, instead of long explanatory text, make the difference. Using interfaces that work well on mobile is crucial from the beginning. The website launch should be announced with an integrated campaign to create awareness from the first moment on. – Michele Arnese, amp
Messaging is key. Ironically, I have seen some notable situations where double-checking to see how well the new website tracks with an organization’s messaging is an afterthought. Yikes! An organization’s core messaging should drive the spirit, look and feel of a new website, not to mention the words and navigation. – Beth Noymer Levine, SmartMouth Communications
4. ADA Compliance
Conduct a high-level ADA compliance audit. Do all images have descriptive alt texts? Do colors meet or exceed the required contrast ratio? Do call-to-action buttons clearly describe the actions they will launch? Do header tags (H1-H6) outline a clear hierarchy of content? Ensure the site can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people. This will also help SEO. – David Feldman, 3 Owl
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
5. The Mobile Experience
Don’t forget to check how friendly the mobile experience is. I cannot overstate how often this gets overlooked. Our site traffic is regularly over 50% mobile visitors. Your mobile experience should not be a downgraded experience from the desktop version. They should each have their strengths, designed for the platform they’ll be viewed on. This is doubly important if the site’s purpose is e-commerce. – Brian Freeman, Heartbeat
6. Hours Of Operation
In the current climate of change in advertising and marketing, it is vital to focus on the basics. In this case, one of the most commonly overlooked action items of a website launch is listing the hours of operation. Many companies have changed their hours multiple times in 2020, and they may continue to see ongoing changes. Updating the hours any business is a simple update, yet crucial. – Kimberly Favazzo Patrum, VAZZO Creative LLC
7. SSL Certificate
Confirm your SSL to avoid being labeled as a “Not Secure” website. Note that a subdomain counts as a separate domain, so you need two separate certificates. Use a free online checker, such as SSL Shopper, to see if anything is missing from your SSL certificate. – Oganes Vagramovich Barsegyan, Digital Beverly Marketing Solutions
8. Color Schemes
Color schemes are a powerful yet often-overlooked element of websites before launch. Research shows colors signify and trigger different emotions in people when seen. For instance, yellow represents joy and happiness and grabs attention, while green promotes healing, tranquility and renewal. Make sure you do your due diligence with your color scheme to ensure you are promoting what is intended. – Ryan White, Social Revelation Marketing
One of the more commonly overlooked items when launching websites are redirects from the old site to the new. There are different types, including 301, 302 and 307. It’s super easy to get sucked into how the new site looks, its nuances on mobile, whether all the links are connected and working or if your boss is happy with where it’s at. Make sure you keep your hard-earned PageRank. – Lee Salisbury, UnitOneNine
10. A Brand Guide
If it is a new website, make sure to have a proper brand guide so that the experience is consistent and fluid. If it is a redesign, visit your old site and make sure that what you did not like about it has been addressed. The new design should inspire you, just as that moment did when you decided it was time to update. – Julie Veloz, IPG
Most stakeholders come to your site via search, often when they have questions to which you have answers. To ensure that they find your company’s answers within the search page, make sure your site has FAQs that cover a range of relevant interest areas. You can check Google Search Console and Search Suggestions for ideas. Use FAQ schema markup to encourage Google to pick up and rank your Q&A. – Sam Michelson, Five Blocks
12. Quality Assurance Analysis
Don’t overlook having a QA analyst do a thorough check of your site before it launches. Before launch, a QA analyst (not the developer who did the code) should check every page and link and test every form after every revision to the site. The time to discover that a form isn’t being delivered to a sales rep is pre-launch, versus months later, after losing countless viable customer leads. – Keri Witman, Clever Lucy
13. Content Strategy
Make sure you have a solid, purposeful content strategy. The days of “set it and forget” are long gone. Having a consistent content posting schedule to follow before and after launch is crucial. Get your site indexed by submitting to Google here. Launching with a good amount of high-conversion content can be great for faster ranking and authority. – Alex Valencia, We Do Web Content
In my opinion, everything else can be adjusted as you navigate the launch, except copy. Website copy that is grammatically incorrect, riddled with typos or just plain bad makes for a truly terrible first impression. Everyone has their writing idiosyncrasies, so have at least three people review all copy before going live. It is worth the effort. – David Harrison, EVINS