Website launch checklist

Marketing, Site Launch / 16.09.22
James Hobden

The prospect of making a new website live can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re replacing your current site.

Keeping downtime to a minimum is of paramount importance and a smooth transition between the old and new website is crucial.

However, if you’ve done your homework and prepared for the go-live process with a website launch checklist, there’s nothing to be worried about.

Download a copy of our website launch checklist


Before you launch

Cross-browser and device testing

Although this will be completed in the latter stages of the development process, cross-browser and device testing needs to be revisited before going live. The last thing you want is to launch a site and get an influx of comments saying your website’s looking funky on a certain browser.

We test a new website in all popular browsers on both Windows and Mac, and a variety of mobile phones and tablets including Apple and Android. As the website’s been tested during development there’s usually very little that has changed, but we find it’s far better to be safe than sorry.

Ask your web developer if they’ve tested your website in all browsers and device types before going live.

Prepare your domain name – check your TTLs

TTLs are a timestamp within a domain name that dictate how long a DNS record is stored by an ISP. The shorter the TTL, the more frequently the DNS records are forgotten by an ISP. When the domain is queried after the TTL has expired, the ISP picks up the latest version of the DNS meaning you’ll always get the most up-to-date record.

When getting ready to go-live with a website ideally you should set the TTL on the root (*) www records to be 300. This means when you update the domain and make the website live, it will take a maximum of 5 minutes (300 seconds) to refresh world-wide. It also gives you a fallback should there be a problem on the new server: you can move the domain back to the old server with only 5 minutes of downtime.

TTLs must be set at least 24 hours in advance of going live and are generally stored for one week before being reset back to 86400 (24 hours). This is an important step if your new website is being hosted on a different server to your current site, so make sure your web developer has prepared your domain for the big day.

Amove textum latinum (Remove all Latin(ish) text)

It sounds silly but it’s very easy to make a website live and forget about a small amount of test content lurking on a page deep within the site. If you’re using a CMS it’s easy to run a quick search on a few common “Lorem ipsum” words to see if anything appears. If your website is static, ask your developer to search the files using their text editor or IDE to see if any test content appears.

Equally, it’s worth checking that no test images slip through to the live website. Within a CMS, you can usually check all website images on one screen making it very simple to catch any pesky test images.

Check your SSL (security) certificate

Your SSL certificate ensures that any data entered into your website is encrypted before it’s transmitted. If you have a contact form of any description on your website, for example, you should have an SSL certificate. If you take payment details online then it’s absolutely vital to have one.

If you are transferring from an old domain to a new one, you need to ensure that your SSL certificate moves across. If you’re launching a brand new website, you should purchase and install the SSL certificate before you launch.

If you get this wrong, instead of your sparkling new website, visitors could be faced with a security warning page. Not the best first impression!

Set up Google Analytics

When your website goes live, you’re going to want to know who visits it. Google Analytics accounts are free and easy to use and give you really detailed data about your website and how it’s performing.

If it’s a new website, this will require a new Google Analytics account. If you’re migrating from an existing website, simply copy the original Google Analytics code into the new site.

Don’t forget Google Search Console, which monitors the website and tells you if Google’s having any trouble visiting your website. If you’re keeping the same domain name for your website, then your current Google Search Console account will just continue to apply to the new site. However, if you’re changing the domain, you’ll need to set up a new account.

Redirect to your new website

If you’re replacing a website, you need to make sure every ounce of traffic you get from search engines is taken to the correct page on the new website. Setting up page redirects from the page on the old site to the corresponding page on the new website keeps your stats and visitors happy. This can be achieved in the .htaccess file like so:

Redirect 301 /oldpage.html

If redirects aren’t made, page links currently indexed on Google could quite easily end up pointing to an error page losing you vital traffic and frustrating users.

It’s also worth checking that an appropriate 404 page has been created to help users if they find a page that hasn’t been redirected. Check with your web designer that they’ve set up redirection of all old pages and blog posts before going live, and ask to see the 404 page to check it’s helpful.

Backup your old website

Before flicking the switch to the new website, make sure you’ve got a working copy of the old site and database saved. Not only could it save your bacon if the go-live process doesn’t go smoothly, it could also store some vital information that you may need months after the new website is live.

Other useful checkpoints for your new website

  • Favicon: A website without a favicon looks unfinished – make sure there’s one ready to go when the site’s made live.
  • Code Validation: Like cross-browser testing this should be done when the development of the site is completed but it’s worth double-checking before the website is live – it could save you some downtime and embarrassment.
  • Sitemap: Not necessarily a sitemap to help users get around your website, but an XML sitemap to help search engines crawl through your website.

After you launch

When you refresh the domain and see your sparkly new website launch, the understandable reaction is to tell the world about it! Feel free to do that – but don’t shout about it too early, there are a few other checks you’ll want to make first.

Make sure everyone, everywhere is seeing the right thing

Check both the www and non www version of the domain. For example, we would check that and both take people to the new site.

Use a global propagation tool such as to check your website is resolving to the right IP all around the world. Wait for the site to fully propagate all in regions; if it’s fluctuating a lot, your users could see a mix of both the new and old site in one bizarre amalgamation!

Get a friend on a different network to check the website over. It’s reasonably unlikely but if an ISP has aggressively cached the website, you may find that the old site hangs around a bit. Checking on several networks will confirm this for you.

Make sure that crawlers can see it too

Search engines like Google use programs called crawlers (also known as robots or spiders) to read your website, so they know what your business is about and when you should appear in search results.

While your website was in development it should have included some code to stop crawlers visiting it – because you don’t want your test site appearing in Google search results.

But now that your website is live, you need to amend this code to ensure that your website is visible to crawlers and gets indexed by Google. Otherwise no-one will ever find it.

Check for development site leftovers

Check that all links and images work on the new domain, if you’ve been using a staging domain you’ll want to make sure that the links and images point to the new domain.

Running a report to search for dead links can help to identify any issues.

Test your forms

Make sure that any contact forms are working (send yourself a test) and, if you have email marketing opt-ins on the website, that these are connecting correctly to your email marketing system.

Test ecommerce

Does your site have ecommerce or online payments? Make a few test orders on the new domain and check the process works as you would expect. When you’ve completed checkout, ensure that you get redirected back to the live domain without any hiccups.

Run social media preview tools

For your highest priority pages (e.g. the ones which you’re excited to share over social media) run them through the relevant social media preview tools first. This will ensure that the platform in question has picked up the preview information for each page, and is ready to display it when you share your exciting news.

These are the preview tools for each platform:

All set?

If you’re happy that your website is in ship-shape condition and working as you’d expect it to, tell the world!

And, if your new website is part of a wider rebrand, take a look at our new brand identity rollout checklist.

Final thoughts for your website

These are just some of the most important points on our website launch checklist. Ask your web developer whether they’ve got a go-live checklist and whether your website is meeting all the criteria prior to going live.

Download a copy of our website launch checklist


Get in touch

Tomango is a leading brand and web design agency in Sussex. For more help and advice with your new website launch, get in touch with the team today.