Though it may not seem obvious, the number of websites that populate the already crowded Internet is growing with each passing year. These days, according to Internet statistics, there are well over a billion websites in existence, and there are millions and millions more of them popping up each year. This equates to well over tens of thousands of new website launches every single day.
But launching a website isn't as easy as you might think.
It's not as simple as setting up a theme or template on WordPress, writing your first page draft, and clicking the alluring “publish” button. There's actually a lot more thought and time that need to be used to give your new website the best chance of succeeding. Otherwise, customers may struggle to find your business, and you might end up losing massive opportunities.
To help make sure your business's digital presence is highly polished and ready for traffic, make sure to keep the following considerations in mind before launching your website.
1. Test Your Website In Multiple Browsers
You will want to take the time to test opening and previewing your website in multiple browsers to ensure that everything loads correctly. Naturally, I don't only mean browsers on desktop computing platforms, but also mobile devices as well. More specifically, you'll want to test it out on all the major web browsers on smartphones, tablets, and desktops as well.
The process can be time consuming, but it will help identify massive website design flaws that could alienate entire segments of your audience. Fore example, if a page didn't load correctly on mobile devices, you'd be failing to accommodate the largest chunk of your audience. The main five web browsers that account for the largest share of the market are as follows:
- Google Chrome
- Internet Explorer/Edge
These days there are a myriad of other smaller competitors. It probably isn't practical to try to load your website in every web browser known to man, but you'd do well to test it out in the aforementioned mainstream web browsers.
You can also learn about cross browser support and testing tools on this blog from Sitepoint.
2. Personally Test On-Site Links and Navigation Menus
The next thing you're going to want to do is test the link and navigation structure. Again, I'd highly recommend testing the main navigation menu on multiple devices and operating systems just to make sure that nothing goes wrong. You could really lose a lot of traffic and send your bounce rate through the roof if the basic navigation links don't function properly.
You definitely want to check your links on devices that you haven't access the site from previously, as testing on a computer that's already been to the site may have cached versions of pages, and you won't get a 'clean' look at your site.
You'll also want to test out any other on-site links to make sure that the visitor was sent to the correct destination. Do all of your Calls To Action lead to the correct landing page? Do you have any broken links that need fixing? It doesn't take too long, and it will help ensure that visitors will be able to easily navigate your website free of irritation.
3. Social Media Addons and Integration
You also need to take a few moments to test your social media tools, because making sure your site is connected to the social media channels that you believe are valuable to your business need to be done right. It's fairly common for websites to use social media plugins that allow users to comment directly on the page, so take a minute to try making a comment yourself.
Likewise, every website should have social media plugins that allow users to share and distribute your content with the easy click of a social media button. Test things out by trying to share a test page to make sure everything is in working order.
4. Double Check Your Copy
Even though video and image content is incredibly important, the vast majority of websites are still comprised of words. It's worth taking the time to double check your copy to make sure that everything is spelled correctly.
But you also need to check more than spelling and grammar. Make sure that your text is using the appropriate font, as you had intended, and that the text is formatted correctly (heading tags, bold, italics, etc.). You may also want to read your copy aloud, to make sure it doesn't sound too corporate and forced.
Sometimes small errors in HTML code, CSS, and other various inconsistencies can cause words to be formatted incorrectly.
One issue that I find particularly irritating is extra whitespace, which can happen if you copy an paste text that hasn't been sanitized (e.g. directly out of Microsoft Word) into WordPress. So take a few minutes and read through your copy before your site goes live.
5. Test Your Web Forms and Sales Funnel Steps
A broken web form isn't worth anything. In fact, even if you have a sleek and sexy website, a single web form error can completely thrash your credibility and make your website look like garbage. The last thing you want is to guide leads through your sales funnel, only to fumble the call to action (for instance, building an email list) at the last step.
Even worse, the form seems to work just fine, but you never get the notification. Can you imagine contacting a business and they never respond? Don't be that business.
There are a gazillion different web form tools for WordPress, but not all of them function appropriately with every version of each theme. Before you launch your website, take your sales funnel and web forms through a dry run to ensure that they work correctly, or you could lose leads forever.
6. Double Check Contact Information
First off, check to make sure that your email address is in the correct format. There are tons of annoying spam bots and scrapers that patrol the Internet, looking for email addresses to harvest to build irksome email lists. To help combat these bots, many people will list their email address in a format that doesn't allow it to be copied and pasted. For example, consider the following format:
- MyEmailAddress [at] EmailProvider [dot com]
Another option is to make your email a graphic, which the bots cannot read but humans still can.
Making your email address more obscure will help mitigate spam emails. However, you'll also want to double check all of your other contact information. The following outlines business and contact information you'll want to verify is accurate:
- email address
- physical storefront address (if you have one)
- telephone/SNR numbers
- Google Maps data (make sure to sign up for Google My Business)
You're On the Right Track
I know firsthand how exciting it can be to publish fresh content on a brand spanking new blog or website. But don't put the cart before the horse - do your due diligence and test your website before you launch, because even small errors can reflect badly on your business.