December 13, 2010

Before You Launch That Site…

by Pat Walsh

Here at Blackbird Interactive, we do our best to continually improve our process. One of the most important tool we rely on is BaseCamp, a web-based project management tool. Through BaseCamp, the Blackbird team and our clients can communicate, share, and have constant access on what’s being done at any given time during the life cycle of a project.

One of the many great features in BaseCamp is the ability to create “to-do” lists. In addition to making theses lists and assigning who is responsible for any given task, we have created “to-do” list templates for each phase of a project.

Before we release any site, we ensure that we “check-off” every “to-do” in our “Pre-Launch Checklist”. Without having this list as part of our process, it may be easy to overlook some seemingly arbitrary items in the heat of “getting it live”.

Here’s our list:

  • Check for incorrect punctuation marks, particularly apostrophes, quotation marks and hyphens/dashes.
  • Capitalization (especially of main headings).
  • Variations in words (e.g. Websites vs. Web Sites).
  • Treatment of bullet lists (e.g. periods or commas at end of each item).
  • Check for hard-coded links to staging domain (i.e. ensure all links will change to ‘live’ URL/domain when site is launched).
  • Ensure no test content on site.
  • Accessibility
  • HTML Validation
  • CSS Validation
  • Ensure page titles they make sense and have relevant keywords in them. Create meta data descriptions for important pages.
  • Domain issues (e.g. variations in links to http://site.com http://www.site.com http://www.site.com/index.html should be reduced to a consistent style).
  • Ensure content is marked-up semantically/correctly (h1, etc.)
  • Check for keyword usage in site content.
  • Check format (user/search engine friendliness) of URLs.
  • Set up Analytics, FeedBurner, and any other packages for measuring ongoing success. Create an XML Sitemap.
  • Configure Google Webmaster Console and Yahoo! Site Explorer.
  • Create custom 404/error pages.
  • Create a favicon.