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Things-To-Do Before Publishing Your Site

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Everytime you’re working on a new website there are some things and/or actions that should be considered before publishing a new website and making everything public. It is very important to be prepared in advance, as things are inevitable.

In this article I’ll try to capture some of these important things and/or factors many developers often forget during the process of web development. Forgetting these actions can add up to big problems, considering these items will help your search engine ranking result and the overall user experiences of your site.

The idea to write an article about this topic has everything to do with my publication of a new site yesterday, my ‘invite-me-to-dribbble-website’: http://www.rajtoral.com/dribbble – please tweet, share or bookmark!

Domain Name, Web Hosting and Social Media

First things First: It sounds a bit as a no-brainer, but I know peeps (not further mentioned by name) that wanted a specific name for their website, but didn’t check if the domain name was free. Way before publishing your website also make sure you get the desired name of your website on the major social networks. Start with Twitter & Feedburner since the username you chose will show up in the URL.

Also it is quite important to choose a good and reliable webhost where you can host your site, more about this: How to Choose Your Type of Webhosting.

Title & Meta Tags

Search Engines rely on these tags to provide title and description for the search results. The title tag is one of the most important (if not the most important) element for SEO and tells visitors what they can find or expect on that specific webpage. The description and keyword tag are not important for SEO but still a good idea to include, because it is the description of your page in a search engine result.

Cross Browser Compatibility

This can become a enormous headache but it’s essential that your website appears correctly in all major browsers. If your website looks good in Internet Explorer 8, it’s doesn’t automatically mean your website also looks good in e.g. FireFox, Safari, Opera, Chrome or even IE6.0? It’s a deadly sin for your website if your audience is unable to view your website.

If you want to check the cross browser compatibility of your website(s), don’t download the multiple browsers, just try Browserlabs or  Browsershots. There is an older article on the gonzoblog.nl completely dedicated to this topic:  Cross browser CSS for your site.

launch-list

Validation

Validating your website will point out errors that you may have missed while coding, things that could be incredibly hard to find manually. A validator also checks for nesting errors (a missing <alt> tag?) and other strange things like your character encoding and help you with overall cross-browser compatibility. Aim for 100% validation, but realize it may not happen.

W3C Markup Validation Service will check your HTML, CSS, RSS, and even broken links. We have also written an earlier article about validation: The Importance of Web Standards

Sitemap

A sitemap is a list of pages of a web site consisting of links (typically organized in hierarchical fashion) to all the content placed within your website. Search engines can use sitemaps to crawl your website efficiently. It can be either a document in any form, but normally they come in .XML form but you may write them in HTML as well. You can also submit your sitemap.xml to your  Google’s Webmaster Tools -pages

You can create your Google Sitemap Online; XML Sitemaps Generator, offers as sitemap generator that creates XML and HTML variants. Free up to a maximum of 500 pages or purchase a script for unlimited use.

Robots.txt List

For those new to the robots.txt file, it is merely a text file implementing what is known as the Standard for Robot Exclusion. The file is placed in the main directory of a website that advises spiders and other robots which directories or files they should not access. Reasons why you should include a robots.txt file on your sites, you can read in this article: How to Set Up a robots.txt to Control Search Engine Spiders, written by Christopher Heng

Optimalization

And no, I’m not talking about search engine optimalization, that’s the next point. You should always optimize your CSS, HTML, JavaScript and images. Optimizing your files will reduce load times and bandwidth consumed by your audience.

CleanCSS can fix errors, optimize, and properly format your CSS. Smush.it by Yahoo, will optimize all the images on a web page without losing the quality.

Search Engine Optimalization (or Optimization)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site or a web page (such as a blog) from search engines via “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results [resource: Wikipedia]

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Here on the gonzoblog.nl we’ve got a complete category dedicated to SEO.

Favicon

Don’t forget to embed a favicon to your webpages. It allows your readers to recognize your site when having your site opened in a tab or bookmarking a page. You can see your favicon as a form of branding, all sites should have them!

You can make your favicon online, but always remember to use the right dimensions, a favicon always measures 16 x 16 pixels and has an .ico-extension at the end.

Your HTML-code in your tag to enable a favicon will look something like this:

<link href="http://yourURL/favicon.ico" rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon">

404 Page/Error Page/File Not Found Page

The default 404 page of any web browser is useless for your audience. You should customize your 404 page with a link back to your homepage or even a search function for better usability. A great article about setting up an 404-page you can read here: How to Set Up A Custom 404 File Not Found Page

Track Your Traffic (Web Statistics)

As you site grows having useful traffic information is important. Installing an analytics tool helps in measuring statistics on how your site is performing, so that you get the real picture as to where you need to improve. They track daily hits, browser statistics, user by country, and more. The number one free analytics tool is Google Analytics.

Check for broken links

It is important to check broken links in your site as it effects SEO and other factors too, so check it with W3C linkchecker. Nothing is more annoying for a reader to think he/she found the information they needed and the specific page just doesn’t seems to exist (anymore)!

Provide Contact Information

Readers often want to be involved. They will email you about mistakes, bugs, questions, and suggestions. But more importantly it helps build trust with readers, allowing them to email you if ever required.

Proofread & last Checks

Read everything you write, and let other people do the same. There will be mistakes you miss the first time reading through that someone else may notice. We are all guilty of making mistakes, .. we’re human!

After you’ve build your website, it’s maybe perfect for you, but not to all of your visitors. A good idea is to have complete strangers navigate the website. Check the functionality, usability and accessibility of your website!

Submit to Search Engines

Normally, major search engines will find you in no time if you have others linking to your website. However, you should submit a sitemap and sign up for the webmaster services offered by both Google & Yahoo.

Conclusion

Always have a recent backup of your website because one day you may lose it all. I’ve had my web host experience issues before and backing up saved my life. After launching your website the work does not end there. You need not only to continue updating it, but you need to promote your site across the Internet.

For publishing a blog there are even more points to consider, like for instance subscribing your Feed to Feedburner, allowing readers to subscribe will remind them about any updates that occur.

 

Author: Jan Rajtoral

Jan Rajtoral AKA Gonzo the Great is the Founder of and Designer at gonzodesign, providing design services across the full spectrum of Brand Identity, Graphic Design, Print and Advertising Design & Website Design.

12 comments

on this article: “Things-To-Do Before Publishing Your Site”
  1. Hi Christian,

    I’m not doing bad with 1000+ unique visitors per month.

    I designed this site completely from scratch, hoping to have created an unique look?

    But spread the word please, I want to have more readers ;-P

    Cheers & Ciao …

  2. Hi Jenae,

    with a well-optimized website, the majority of your visitors will probably come from search engines.

    But it’s not necessarily always true, don’t forget your (back)links. Great back-links on relevant heavy traffic-sites is also a good way to get visitors to your site (I’ld love a backlink on the index-page of .. Adobe or Apple!).

    And don’t forget social media. My ‘invite-me-to-dribble-site’ had the first day 700+ visitors, the site even wasn’t indexed in Google yet!

    Thanks for your comment, Cheers & Ciao ..

  3. Hi email marketing,

    you can always pay me, that’s not the prob, Bob ;-P Glad I could inform you more on this topic!

    Thanks for your comment, Cheers & Ciao ..