You’re so close you can taste it. The design process went smashingly, the development team translated it beautifully into a working site and all the content is in place. It’s time to take your new WordPress site live!
When you’re so close to the finish line, it can be tempting to sprint the final distance, but in the web world, it’s critically important to make sure you have all your ducks in a row as you introduce your new site to the world.
The last thing you want is for your first impression to go sour because some little detail got overlooked. Instead, follow this launch day checklist to make sure that you have your bases covered, and you can debut your new online home with confidence.
Hosting & Domain
Your new website needs a place to live, so if you don’t already have a domain name purchased and a hosting environment set up, then make that your first stop. You can usually register a domain at the same place you purchase hosting, but if you already have a domain purchased somewhere other than where you are planning to get hosting, you can transfer the domain if you really want to keep everything under one roof. It’s not necessary to do so though, so if you’re ok with the domain being registered with a different company, you can leave it there.
There are many reputable hosting companies out there, some of our current favorites include DreamHosts, Liquid Web, SiteGround and BlueHost. Most hosts offer WordPress specific hosting plans designed to provide the optimal environment for a WordPress site, so you’ll probably want to consider one of those.
Now that you have a domain and hosting, you can set up any email addresses you need that don’t already exist. You probably got some free email accounts as a part of your hosting plan, if not you may need to purchase a separate email plan. You could also consider setting up GSuite, Google’s business services that can handle your email for you (as well as set up a bunch of other business-related services).
You’ll probably need to access your server via FTP at some point, so you’re going to want to make sure that you have at least one FTP user set up. Most hosting plans come with an FTP user already set up, but you should still make sure you have one, and take note of the FTP login info for that user.
Migrate & Backup
Now you’re ready to actually move the site from it’s development environment into it’s new home. We recommend using BackupBuddy to handle both! It’s an industry-leading plugin that handles both tasks with ease. You’ll want semi-regular backups of the whole site, and very regular back-ups of the database.
Everybody needs data! If you want data about how your site is functioning, than you need to set up a free Google Analytics account. You’ll need to insert a piece provided by Google of code and install it on your site, which you can do manually, or handle via a number of plugins.
Set Up Security
Once your site is up and running on your new hosting plan, you should install a security plugin to make sure you are as protected against hacks as possible. We recommend using iThemes Security, our go to plugin for this purpose. You’ll also want to set up Akismet (which comes already installed with WordPress) to help block spam.
Check Your Settings
Many of your settings were probably set for you during the development phase, but you’ll want to jump in there and make sure everything is still set properly. One thing you really want to double-check on is your permalinks, which will be very hard to change once the site has been live for any period of time.
An admin user was created when the WordPress site was first installed, but you’ll need to add any additional users you might need. There are different roles you can assign new users, which limit their access to certain parts of the backend, so make sure you choose your roles wisely.
Install an SEO Plugin & Alert Search Engines
You want your site to be as optimized for search engines as possible, and the easiest way to achieve that is to install an SEO plugin. We recommend Yoast SEO, a fully-featured plugin that does all sorts of cool stuff, including real-time feedback on new content creation. Once the site is live, you’ll want to submit it to various search engines like Google and Bing. If you’re using Yoast, you can actually let the plugin handle this step for you!
Check Social Sharing
You need to make sure that your content looks good when shared on various networks. One of the best ways to check this is to go to the Facebook Open Graph Debugger. Type your url in there and it will scrape it and show you how that page will display when shared. If everything looks weird, or no info is present, you probably need to set up Open Graph info for your site, which Yoast SEO can also handle for you if you are using it.
Test, Test, Test
Your site should have been browser-tested as a part of the development process, but it can’t hurt to run everything through a final check now that it’s all in place in it’s final home. Take a look at all of your pages and posts, in multiple browsers and on multiple devices.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully launched your new site. Time for a back pat! If you’d like to work with a web team that knows how to make sure everything is covered at launch time, give the Solamar crew a shout.