The website is designed, the CMS works perfectly fine, content has been added and your client is delighted. Is it time to take the website live ??
When it comes to launching a website, we often forget a number of things in out excitement to make it live, It is always useful to have a checklist to look through as you make your last-minute touches and before you reveal your website to the world.
A favicon grades the tab or window in which your website is open in the user’s browser. It is also saved with the bookmark so that users can easily identify pages from your website.
TITLES AND META DATA
Your page title is the most necessary element for SEO and is also so that users know what’s on the page. One needs to make sure , it changes on every page and depicts to that page’s content.
Meta description and keyword tags aren’t as vital for SEO (at least for the major search engines), but it’s still a good approach to incorporate them. Alter the description on each page to make it narrate to that page’s content, because this is usually what Google displays in its search result description.
Just when you think your design looks great, pixel perfect, you check it in IE and see that everything is busted. It’s critical that your website works across browsers. It doesn’t need to be pixel perfect, but everything should function, and the user shouldn’t see any issues. The most favoured browsers to test are Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8, Firefox 3, Safari 3, Chrome, Opera and the iPhone.
Always read everything, Even if you’ve read once, read it all over again. Check with someone else to read it for you. There will always be something element that you might have to change. Keep the text short and specific. Fragment the large text blocks into shorter paragraphs. Incorporate clear heading throughout and use lists so that the users can browse easily. Never forget the dynamic texts, such as the alert boxes.
Never just assume all your links work. Click on them. You may often forget to add “http://” to links to external websites. Make sure your logo links to the home page, a common convention.
Also, think about how your links work. Is it obvious to new users that they are links? They should stand out from the other text on the page. Never underline text that isn’t a link because it will confuse users.
Test everything intensely. If you have a contact form, test it and copy yourself so that you can see what comes through. Get others to test your website, and not just family and friends but the website’s target market. Sit back and watch how a user uses the website. It’s amazing what you’ll pick up on when others use your website differently than how you assume they’d use it. Common things to check for are contact forms, search functions, shopping baskets and log-in areas.
You should aim for a 100% valid website. That said, it isn’t the end of the world if your website doesn’t validate, but it’s important to know the reasons why it doesn’t so that you can fix any icky errors. Common gotchas include no “alt” tags, no closing tags and using “&” instead of “&” for ampersands.
If in case your website has a blog or a newsreel, it is essential you have an RSS feed that the users can subscribe to. Users should be able to find your RSS feed without any difficulty, The common way is to put a small RSS icon in the browser’s address bar.
Installing some sort of analytics tool is important for measuring statistics to see how your website executes and how fortunate your conversion rates are. Tracking daily unique hits, monthly page views and browser statistics.
Adding a sitemap.xml file to your root directory allows the major search engines to easily index your website. The file points crawlers to all the pages on your website.
The most commonly neglected defensive design element is the 404 page. If a user requests a page that doesn’t exist, your 404 page is displayed. This may happen for a variety of reasons, including another website linking to a page that doesn’t exist. Get your users back on track by providing a useful 404 page that directs them to the home page or suggests other pages they may be interested in.
Another defensive design technique is checking your forms for validation. Try submitting unusual information in your form fields (e.g. lots of characters, letters in number fields, etc.) and make sure that if there is an error, the user is provided with enough feedback to be able to fix it.
A back-up strategy is always needed, if in case your website runs off a database. Or else, the day will come when you regret not having one.
PRINT STYLE SHEET
If a user wants to print a page from your website, chances are she or he wants only the main content and not the navigation or additional design elements. That’s why it is a good idea to create a print-specific style sheet.