After hours of collaboration between you and the designers, after hours of programming, after volumes of content has been written, your law firm website is finally complete. However, before it launches, it needs to be evaluated to make sure that it works exactly as intended. This is where a website launch checklist comes into play. Every complex, creative endeavor needs to undergo a series of checks and balances before it is released to the public.
Since there are fewer undertakings more complex and more creative than the creation of a website, it needs a comprehensive once-over before it launches. At On The Map Marketing, we thoroughly check, test, recheck, and evaluate every aspect of a website before it launches. We make sure that every website we work on is in pristine condition before it launches because your website is as important to us as it is to you.
1. Content Checklist
Grammar and Spelling Check
Poor grammar and misspelled words cast your website in a bad light, so every last bit of text on your website should be thoroughly scrutinized. No matter how otherwise well-written and informative the content may be, punctuation misuse, improper syntax, and spelling errors detract from the experience for the reader.
It is nearly always necessary for a second set of eyes to go over any content. That is because the writer of said content may not always notice if their work is completely logical. Even the best writers need an editor to go over their work and content writers are no different. Their work should be proofread to make sure that it is easy to read and arranged in a way that makes sense to the reader.
2. SEO and Analytics Checklist
Install an SEO Plugin
You want people to know about, and visit, your website, don’t you? Using SEO (search engine optimization) is the best way of achieving that result. SEO helps to improve your ranking on Google’s search results page, and an SEO plugin helps to improve your SEO. A plugin like Yoast SEO helps to ensure that each page is optimized for the right keywords, make sure that each page has a unique title, and that title tags and meta descriptions are relevant and accounted for.
Create a Google Analytics Account
After all the SEO work is done, you need to know whether it is working or not. The creation of a Google Analytics account and the addition of an analytics code to your website keeps track of all the visitors to your site. It tracks other vital data like their number, the pages on your site that they visit, the amount of time they spend on your website, and much more. This information helps to track the efficacy of your site and informs you of any necessary changes that need to be made.
Submit the Website to Google
This step is as easy as it is necessary. Submitting the website to Google lets the search engine know that your website is ready. All that is necessary is to locate the Google Search Console and submit the URL of your website. After a few days, your website will be listed on Google.
3. Security Checklist
Use the Right Security Tools
You want your website to be as secure as possible. The reason being that you want to protect the information of your clients from any criminals who want to exploit it. There are a variety of different security plugins that can protect your website from malware, viruses, and other intrusion attempts.
Acquire an SSL Certificate
SSL means secure sockets layer and when a website has this certification, you will see a green lock symbol and https in the URL window. Any website without an SSL certification gets flagged by Google as being insecure. That lowers the site’s ranking and makes people more reluctant to visit your site and share their personal information with your law firm.
Use Spam Protection
Spam is more of a nuisance than a security threat, but you want to limit its presence on your website nonetheless. There are several anti-spam programs available, so your website should have one of them installed.
4. Compatibility Checklist
Review Browser Compatibility
Your website should work well on all different browsers, so a cross-browser check should be done on the site before it launches. There are tools available that allow developers to see what your website looks like on different browsers and make adjustments if anything is amiss on one of them.
Check for Mobile Responsiveness
A website that works well across a variety of devices, from PCs to laptops to smartphones, is a website that is mobile responsive. A website that is mobile responsive is one that all visitors will want to visit no matter what platform they use to view it. Google places a high priority on mobile responsiveness so your law firm website should be easily navigable on all devices.
5. Optimize Useability
Use Clear Calls to Action
The call to action is what people use to get in touch with you, so it should be prominent and well-placed. You should make sure that it is in a place where people are sure to see it and it should be readily accessible from any page on your website. This is one of the most important elements of your site, so it should not be overlooked.
Optimize Images for Fast Loading
You want the images on your site to look good, but you also want them to load quickly since slow loading speeds are a turn-off for most visitors. Big images that take up a lot of file space are often the culprit when websites load slowly. You should make sure that the developers compress any images on your site down to a manageable size. A size that still looks great but also will not impede the loading speed of the rest of the site.
6. Performance Checklist
You want to make sure that your website loads quickly and runs smoothly. You should have your website undergo a performance test using an online service. This will help you find out if there are any parts of your site that are causing it to underperform. Using a performance test early on will make sure that your website is fully optimized when it launches.
Your website should be accessible to as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. Your law firm website should be tested to see if it works with a screen reader, which includes making sure that the images on your site have appropriate alt-text. Your website should also be accessible to those with color blindness or other vision problems.
8. Prepare for The Worst
Make a Backup of Your Website
It’s always good to have a backup plan in any situation, and your website is no exception to that rule. In case something causes your website to go down, a backup solution should be in place. There are plugins that automatically backup your website on a regular basis, so make sure that your site has one of them installed.
Create a Custom 404 Page
Even though a new website should not receive any 404 errors, it is possible. They could be the result of a mistyped URL by the user, or a page being moved or deleted without its URL being changed. When a user is greeted by a generic 404 page, they will likely leave your site, never to return. Furthermore, a 404 page with no links is like a dead end to search engine crawlers. They will encounter the 404, stop, and entire sections of your website will go unindexed.
A custom 404 page will prevent that. It can have a unique design that will not repel visitors, as well as links to other pages on your site. That way visitors will stay even if they see the error message, and search engines will always have access to your entire site.
9. Miscellaneous Checklist
Remove Unwanted Plugins
During the construction of your site, the developers may have installed various plugins that are no longer needed once the site is completed. The removal of these unnecessary plugins will help your site to run more smoothly.
Check your Favicon
The favicon is the little emblem on the browser tab next to the text. They are important because they are a big part of your law firm’s branding. They also make it easier for users to identify your website if they have multiple tabs open. A favicon is easy to create and setup, so make sure that your website has one.
Choose a Domain Name and Hosting
A good hosting site can enhance the performance and security of your website. A great domain name can enhance your branding and make it easier for people to find you. A good domain name is one that is simple and easy to remember, so choose carefully.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
This is an axiom that’s useful in all aspects of life and web development is no different. You never have to worry about On The Map Marketing missing anything on this list. We check everything multiple times to ensure that your law firm website has a smooth, successful launch. So, when you are ready to create your website, contact us and we will get you started.