Are you sure you're ready to launch your website?

By: Jonathan Brealey

Date: 9 May 2011

Crossed fingersThis is a guest post written by Jonathan Brealey, co-founder of web hosting and reseller hosting company Heart Internet.

Launching a new website is a big job. It's easy to let important tasks slip through the net. So, if you're getting ready to go live, here are some key tasks to make sure you've ticked off.

  • Proofread. There is no surer way to make your business look unprofessional than poor spelling and grammar. If you have written the site’s content yourself or you have been proofreading through multiple drafts, get some fresh eyes to give it a once over. You’ll be amazed what gets missed when people have been working on a document for too long.
  • Test all forms. Most websites have a way for visitors to ask questions or get in touch. This is an important lead generator and customer service mechanism for your website so make sure any forms or email addresses work 100%. Just take a couple of minutes to fill in every form and click on any links that open emails. Test that the email address works too.
  • Check your legal policies. This is important for commercial and legal reasons. If you take payment online or capture user data, be it through contact forms or analytics, you should link to terms and conditions and privacy policy pages from your footer. These pages clearly explain how you will use the data you are gathering. Business Link offer free terms and conditions and privacy policy templates for you to download and adapt to your business. If you are a registered company you must also display your registered company name, number, and address on your website.
  • Make sure links work. There is nothing more frustrating than a broken link that doesn't take you where you want to go. Sadly, they are also easy to create. One missing character is all it takes. There are dozens of tools that can check a web page’s links are all working. One of the best is the W3C link checker.
  • Put analytics in place. Without analytics software on your website you are essentially half blind as to how people are using it and how effective any marketing campaigns are. Popular analytics software includes Google Analytics (free), GoingUp (free) and Clicky (free for up to 3,000 page impressions per day).
  • Custom 404 error page. '404 pages' are where people are taken if they go to a URL that doesn't exist or they click on a broken link. There are some great imaginative 404 pages out there, but the most important thing is to clearly show there's been an error and offer links back into your website. Here are some tips from Google.
  • Check search engine optimisation. The importance of getting listed high in search engine results is well documented, and so are the basic tactics to achieve this. At the very least, optimise your page titles, header tags, linked text (also called 'anchor text') and use of keywords in your copy. For a great, detailed breakdown, have a read of this beginner's guide to SEO too.

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