After days, months, and years of pondering, you have finally arrived at the decision to create a new business website or update your existing one. CONGRATULATIONS! That is a big step in your strategy to grow your business.
Here is a checklist to always keep in handy when developing and releasing a business website.
These will help you create rock-solid, professional websites, and are the foundation of a repetitive, effective website business.
1. Make sure your website is responsive to changes in screen size and properly accommodates a few breakpoints (desktop, tablet, phone).
Mobile devices account for more than half of the web traffic around the world. This shows that mobile devices usage continues to climb year-over-year indicating that more users are searching while on the go. Plus, with Google’s latest algorithm, your site must be mobile-friendly or it gets punished through lower search results.
3. Properly size all the images and strip them from all metadata.
There are business websites that use images with over 2MB in size. That is a no-no, as this greatly affects your website load times. You should always use the right size of images or opt for the new image format developed by Google called WebP. A great resource to use to optimize your images is TinyPng.com.
4. If you are using Web Fonts, they should be optimized.
Reference woff2 and woff fonts first because they are compressed (so the browser will try to download them first. You can use the waterfall tap on GTMetrix to determine the fonts you need to optimize.
5. Proofread your content for spelling and grammar, punctuation, consistency, and capitalization.
We learned this the hard way, first impression matters so you have to take responsibility for this. You can use the Grammarly browser extension to aide in catching your grammatical errors. Grammarly works similarly to the spell checker on Microsoft Word.
6. Include an “alt” attribute for all the images.
Not only does it improve ADA compliance it also helps the search engines to make sense of the content on your page. Google cannot read your image, but an alt text tells the search engine exactly what your image is about.
7. Create custom 404 and 500 error pages.
Make sure to set up them correctly on your server.
8. Enable compression for all HTTP requests, including for TTF and EOT formats.
9. Make sure you set up a caching strategy on your server.
And leverage browser caching to help load your site faster.
10. Load-test your site to ensure it can handle as many visitors as you think you’ll get.
Here is a list of tools you can use to accomplish this.
11. Set up and schedule regular backups for your site.
This is a very important step that you should not miss or you will learn the hard way. You should always have a copy of your website files and database somewhere. Luckily, most hosting platforms nowadays offer free back up services.
12. Have a plan ready to roll back any updates if something goes wrong.
This is why step 11 is very important if you do not have a backup copy of your files and database, what will you do if and when something goes wrong?
13. Set up a monitoring system so you can get alerts about the status of your site.
14. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to deliver all the static resources of the site.
The free Cloudflare plan is great option to use for most business websites, but you can certainly look at other platforms on the market.
15. Check that every form in the site is resilient to special characters.
And an anti-spam is implemented especially for your contact form. Whether it’s using a 3rd party tool or good old Google CAPTCHA.
16. Use HTTP/S. Always.
Today is very simple to get an SSL certificate for free. Cloudflare offer a free SSL certificate. Letsencrypt is a nonprofit Certificate Authority that proves free SSL certificates to over 225 million websites.
17. Make sure all the HTTP traffic is redirected to HTTPS.
18. Make sure there’s no direct access through the browser to any of the private directories of the website.
19. Make sure there’s no direct access through the browser to any configuration file.
20. Test your website in IE, Edge, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.