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Pre-launch Development

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How much pre-launch content and tweaking do you hope to complete? What sorts of things do you like to have done ahead of time?


Or, are you a damn-the-list-and-fire-off-the-content person? Perfection can lead to paralysis.


Possible target areas:

- If there is a blog, have a few blog posts in the can - enough to give wiggle room if not everything goes according to plan

- Enough content to make the site feel like it has depth

- Check content for quality - is it spellchecked? Clear? Accurate? Does it need inline links to other pages?

- Work out the obvious bugs - the broken bits like coding errors and broken links

- Message clarity - is it obvious what the site is supposed to be about?

- Review SEO specifics - is there an xml site map, do pages have unique titles?

- Make any structural parent/child/navigation tweaks

- Review branding, at the body language level, more than just putting up a logo and a few pages of text. What should the site's interactive personality feel like, to the user?

- Professional-level window-dressing - do you have a favicon? Logo? If it's a WordPress-run community site, have you replaced the WordPress's login logo and link with your own?

- Register any user names that are the same as the domain name in Twitter, FaceBook, gmail, etc.

- Have you created a custom 404 page with handy links?

- Does the site print well?

- Check for cross-browser display, in both standard and small screens

- Is navigation intuitive? Once on the site, can you tell where you are in relation to other content?

- Re-test any forms

- Check load time

- Install analytics and a feed reader :)


Unsure of *how* to test and check some of these things? Look around for tools and guidelines, get outside help or borrow from how the experts do it. For instance, Automattic (the WordPress company) makes use of screenshots of graphic mock-ups troubleshoot usability before any coding is done.


Used to coding in a text editor and adding graphic touches later? Check in with someone who does the opposite (starts with graphics) to see if that difference in ways of seeing reveals unnoticed problems or potentials.


Does anyone have tips to share about how fixes done after the fact could have been caught before launch?

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No list :-)


I usually start creating a usable and persuasive website, so I don't need to redo lots of things later (such as keyword research, metas, titles, etc). Then I follow up with worthy content and add the less interesting bits later or when I need to change what I'm doing to relax/become unbored.


Practically, most of the above is done between creating and promoting good content, because, well, there's always lack of good content and a limited amount of time :)


Then again, that's a one person endeavour. If it's a serious business-like venture that is promoted by something other than great content (advertising, lots of topical links from content elsewhere, support from other projects, etc), then more checkups are needed and that's when I'd do the list, re-check, have a good amount of usable content already, test conversions and analytics, etc.

Edited by A.N.Onym

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That's kind of a jumbled list, some is part of the first stages of planning, other what you might do just before or after going live or to review an existing site.


The nav structure, for example, is a pretty fundamental part of how a site will work and should be based on what information visitors will want and the most logical way of getting them there... that's something you'd probably do before writing code even not when you are about to launch.


I usually start on paper with a list of content/features, then workout visually the best way to present those features, mock up the most important pages and even pop things like content headings or formats (bullets/paragraphs/tables) though I'll write the actual text later. Then code it and create the individual pages, then work on the content for those pages. I'll have at least one of each type for testing. I'll generally upload at the stage when it's working and has the basic content pages, and just needs the type of content you build over time.

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I am somewhat excessive (so I am told) in this regard :)



* make the business case for the website, defining business model, potential revenue streams.

* identify market, primary market segmentation, initial targeting and positioning.

* create initial marketing and revenue plans.

Note: this includes acquiring domain name(s), designing business graphics, i.e. logo(s) and favicon(s), registering trademarks and service marks, registering with select social sites, etc.



* define required security, backup, versioning, etc.

* determine web content publishing system(s), i.e. static HTML, WordPress, Drupal, custom, etc.

* determine required third party applications.

* define site failover requirements.

* define site analytics requirements.

* define hosting requirements.



* identify and group niche industry and customer terms, list associated synonyms and antonyms.

* create site information architecture and navigation.

Note: define accessibility and usability requirements.

* identify page templates required.

* identify and prioritise initial content required; including initial titles, summary descriptions, headings, and sub-headings.



* design page templates with target audience(s) needs/wants/desires and conversion funnel(s) in mind.

Note: build with progressive enhancement requirement.

Note: build with responsive design principles: flexible grids, flexible images/media, and media queries.

* design backend (database, server scripts, security, etc.) required to support above.

* design required frontend scripts required to support above.

* design custom server error code pages, i.e. 404, configuration files, etc. with above in mind.

* ensure x-browser and device compatibility (to defined versions).

* create required support documentation.



* create content for home page, admin pages, i.e about, contact, ToS, site search results, and category pages.

* create content for initial 50-200 content pages based on priority list.

* edit/proof for grammar, spelling, audience requirements, conversion requirements. etc.



* confirm links.

* confirm behaviours.

* test and confirm security, i.e. form input handling.

* confirm x-device and browser rendering.

* test and optimise database.

* test and optimise delivery.

* test and confirm failover process.

* test and confirm bot exclusion methodology.

* test and adjust analytics.



* go live.

* begin/continue select social application involvement.

* continue building out pages by priority list.

* maintenance and further development as necessary by situation, as required by marketing and revenue plans, or as suggested by analytics analysis.

Note: this is a self sustaining feedback loop with additional inputs.


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That's kind of a jumbled list
LOL - Point taken, Tam. On the other hand, what would be the fun in starting a conversation without leaving lots of room for improvement?

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I don't like to put up "empty" sites although I've done it a couple of times. If I can, I prep a few pages of content or articles (maybe half a dozen).


If the site is a small, static site then I'll create a core around which I can build other sections later.


If I'm trying to put together a large site then I will have obtained the content from someplace and probably that decides the structure.


I don't worry too much about mistakes. Mistakes are fixable and transient. A site that will be around for 10 years or more can tolerate 30 days of errors.

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In order to establish an efficient website, it is essential to plan every small details for the website. This will help in terms of establishing the most perfect website. Once the website and its content is planned, you can move forward in terms of selecting an appropriate website hosting plan to support it.

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