Wondering what to do before launching your website? Here's a comprehensive list of tasks to make sure your site is ready for the world to see!

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WordPress Website Launch Checklist: 12 Steps for a Successful Launch

So you’ve been hard at work designing your website, and it’s almost launch day! The pages have been built, the images have been placed, and it’s nearly time to go live. But hold the phone – even though you’re SO close to the finish line, there are just a few more things to do before a website is ready for launch day. Today, I’m spilling the tea on the pre-website launch checklists I personally use to confirm that a website is looking and functioning its best and 100% ready for the world to see!

I actually have TWO website launch lists I work with to cover all of the bases. First, I look at everything the client sees as part of a site (the front end). Next, I check that everything is good to go behind the scenes with a site’s SEO optimization, integrations, and page functions (the back end). Without further ado, let’s get to the launch checklists!


How do I launch a WordPress website?

Front End WordPress Website Launch List

The front end of the website is what most people think of whenever they’re prepping a site for launch. From a site’s look to the copy to the links, the front end of a site is the part visitors will be seeing and interacting with on your site, so you definitely want it to be the best it can be at launch!

1. Proofread EVERYTHING

Even if you feel like you’ve read your site’s copy a million times, give it one more thorough proofread to ensure your grammar and spelling are on point. I like to read everything aloud, which really helps me see how the site’s copy flows. You’ll also want to check your contact details and keep an eye out for leftover generic “lorem ipsum” filler text.

2. Test every link

You’ve put in so much hard work to design CTA buttons that convert and build a clear path for potential clients to follow through your site. One misplaced link could throw a wrench into the works! Whether a link is placed within the text, on a button, or as part of the menu, give each individual one a click just to be sure it goes to the right destination. Don’t forget to check out the footer to verify the links you might have placed there (like to your Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy)!

3. Double-check mobile and tablet friendliness

Something I see people overlook all the time (especially if they DIY their site) is making a site’s design responsive. Keep in mind that people won’t just visit your website from a desktop or laptop computer; they’ll also be browsing on their phones and tablets. Optimizing your site for all devices keeps it looking fabulous no matter which device people use for their visit. My go-to tool to check this item off my list is Responsive Web Design Checker. All you have to do is enter your site’s URL; their interface will show you how it appears on almost any device!

4. Test all email opt-ins and contact forms

Well-crafted email opt-in opportunities and contact forms are an important tool for capturing lead information, which can then be nurtured through marketing campaigns or used to connect with potential clients. This is a part of your site that you’ll want to function exactly as you’ve envisioned so you don’t leave leads and potential clients on hold! A quick test run to ensure everything is connected and triggering any automations you have set up will do the trick.

5. Add heat mapping

Understanding user behavior can be complex, but installing heat mapping on your site can make the process much easier. Basically, a website heat map helps you understand how visitors to your website use individual pages. Are they using your links? How about responding to CTAs? Once you know how people interact with your site, you’re all set up to make data-driven website decisions post-launch. My personal favorite to use is hotjar!

6. Set up Google Analytics

Measuring a site’s data over time can let you know which content and resources show up in search results and which parts of your website are converting. Google Analytics is a free traffic tracking tool that gives you a gold mine of valuable data about your site’s performance. You’ll get an info-packed view of your site’s performance that will pay off big time by helping you strategize your next marketing move. If you need help getting started with Google Analytics, check out my tutorial on The Best Way to Add Google Analytics to WordPress!



Back End WordPress Website Launch List

The back end of your website is all that wonderful technology that powers your site’s core functions, integrations, and loading speed. To your average site visitor, these things all happen “behind the curtain,” – but for someone building a website, ensuring a site’s back end is in top-notch shape is a must!

7. SEO setup

Making sure your SEO setup is suitable for launch will pay off for months and years to come. Review your keywords list and double-check that you’ve included them in page titles, meta descriptions, and headers. Remember that keyword stuffing is a big SEO no-no, so while including keywords as much as possible is great, you want to include them in a way that makes logical sense on the page!

8. Permalink Structure

A permalink is the permanent URL for a given page of your website – ideally, it will also tell people about what’s on the page in an SEO-friendly way! Sometimes the default permalink structure on a site is set to give each new page or post a name based on the date or order in which it was published. Instead, structure permalinks around a title-based slug, like https://southerncreativeco.com/blog/homepage-mistakes-to-avoid/. If you’re redesigning a previous site, all the permalinks should either be the same as before or redirect to an updated permalink on the new site.

9. Custom 404 Page

Every so often, site visitors might try to navigate to a part of your site that’s broken or doesn’t exist. If that happens, they’ll encounter an error page, aka a 404 page. Users will get a generic-looking error message if you don’t design a custom 404 – and that could be confusing or disorienting. For a seamless user experience that reassures visitors that they’re still on your website, design and set up a custom 404 page that fits in with your site’s design. Not only is it better for branding, but it can also lower your site’s bounce rate when people encounter an error.

10. 404 Monitoring

A custom 404 page puts you in control of user experience, even if someone runs into an error on your site. But maintaining an excellent site for your visitors doesn’t stop with the 404 page – you’ll also want to know when and where people are encountering 404 messages on your site so that you can fix it! Setting up 404 monitoring generates a report that helps you minimize site errors and downed pages (before they become a massive headache!)

11. Schedule Automatic Website Backups

It’s always a good idea to be prepared “just in case” you lose some or all of your site’s data. If you’ve decided to go with a managed WordPress hosting provider like Flywheel or Kinsta, they’ll automatically back up your site. But if you’re just getting started and your site is hosted on a shared hosting provider like Siteground or Bluehost, you’ll need a backup plugin (my top recommendation is UpdraftPlus!)

12. Check site speeds

These days, website visitors expect sites to load pretty fast – in three seconds or less! If your site takes much longer than that to load, people are likely to leave your site before they can see what your brand is all about. I like to use Google’s Page Speed Insights or Pingdom to give everything a once over and guarantee a site’s loading time is lightning fast. If things are moving slowly, take a look at the photo optimization setting – it’s almost a sure bet that oversized images are what’s slowing you down!

13. SEO WordPress Website Launch List

While my front-end and back-end pre-website launch checklists are two of my tried-and-true ways to get a site ready for its big debut, I actually have one more list that I like to pull out to touch up a site’s SEO game before launch day! Making the most of keywords, on-page SEO, and Google Analytics is just the beginning of setting your site up for SEO success, so keep an eye out for an upcoming post with all the details on getting your website search-worthy with all the SEO foundations!

And there you have it – everything I do to ensure a website’s front and back end elements are ready to go live and convert viewers into clients!

Steph O'Keefe, SEO strategist and WordPress designer sitting at desk wearing a white shirt in Raleigh, NC.

I'm Steph!

I'm the Founder and creative Director behind Southern Creative, a.k.a. your SEO strategist and web designer.

My passion is crafting websites rooted in strategy so you can put your focus where your heart is while we launch your dream website that shows up online.