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The Ultimate Startup Website Checklist

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The Ultimate Startup Website Checklist image websitechecklistessential

This post is recap on some of the highlights from a how-to created by MercuryGrove. I feature some of the most impressive startup strategies we encounter at StartupPlays and share them free, here at business2community.com. Enjoy.

If you would prefer this checklist in it’s interactive form you can get it FREE here.

Whether a seasoned developer, designer, or startup entrepreneur, you need a website that reflects your ability and ambition. You may have a website driving 50K plus visitors/month, or a newly launched beta landing page, however in my experience it’s impossible to remember all the tiny details when launching a site.

We’ve put together the ultimate website checklist that is the most comprehensive list of “must-haves” when building, launching, or managing a website.

Related Resources from B2C
» Free Webcast: How to Create Killer Email Conversion Copy

Standards and validation

Clearly this is not something that should be left until the last few days prior to launch. But you should always make one final sweep through your content to check for validation issues.

Check you code: You should check your HTML, CSS, Accessibility and your Javascript.  Ensure that external files are loading properly on each page and no errors are occurring.  Check for anything that uses javascript to function correctly. The Developer Toolbar for Firefox is a great time saver when it comes to validating your HTML and CSS, with the WAVE toolbar being similarly indispensable for checking against WCAG guidelines.

Other great code validation tools include:

- HTML: http://validator.w3.org/
- Javascript: http://www.jslint.com/
- CSS: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/

Check your site on multiple browsers: We use Litmus Testing for all of our email and browser tests to make sure that our website looks good and functions on Firefox, Chrome, and IE

Check your Website on Mobile: There are many mobile site checking sites on the internet. Probably the most popular are: W3 Mobile Validat and or the Google Mobile Test site.

Website SEO

SEO – Search Engine Optimization – is a key element of your website to get picked up by the major search engines.  You should be taking this into consideration from the beginning of the website development process and double checking that everything is in place before launching.

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday – Ignore the Tail at Your Peril! from SEOmoz on Vimeo.

The internet is structured based on keywords.  Make sure that you know your keywords and have applied them to your site.

Also, ensure you have your meta description in place, and that any keywords are suitable for the site. Do the keywords appear in your site copy where appropriate? Do your keywords appear in titles and image descriptions?

Check your keywords: There are a lot of great resources for researching keywords, in case you haven’t yet. The gold standard on the internet for free and paid services is SEO Moz

Optimize your URL structure: Google has taken considerable steps within Webmaster Tools to reward site owners for declaring, and being consistent about canonical URL’s. That is to declare to Google which URL structure you will maintain on your site, to avoid the duplicate content penalty. So if you choose example.com/products over www.example.com/products, then check to ensure the links within your pages follow this convention.

Add Meta Descriptions: The meta data tag is in the header (between “HEAD” and the “/HEAD” tags) of your website. Each page should have a short description of what’s on the page. The description tag is often used by Google and other search engines to display what is on the page below the name of the page. It also helps search engines understand what the user will find on that page.

Website Copy

Having great graphics and a compelling offer is important, but “copy is [still] king”.  Misspellings, run on sentences, unclear value propositions, bad punctuation makes you look unprofessional and undermines your credibility.  Have someone look over your content and make sure it is clear and concise.

Remove all test copy: Many designers will fill content spaces with “fake content”.  Make sure there is no test copy on any pages (Lorem Ipsum, Acme Co., or personal notes).

Check that each page has a clear purpose and call to action: Review EVERY SINGLE PAGE.  Is it clear what the page is doing?  Does it serve a specific purpose?  Is there a clear Call To Action (CTA) on the page (examples: contact us, buy now, learn more, etc…)?

Create an XML sitemap: XML sitemaps are what search engines use to find all the links on your website.  If you have a large site or blog, its a good idea to create an XML sitemap and provide a link in the footer of your site.  Alternatively, you can submit your XML sitemap directly to popular search engines with a permanent location on your website where it can look to find it. Here is a free tool for generating your website sitemap

Tracking and Analytics

“In God we trust, all others bring data” – W. Edwards Deming, the grandfather of statistical methods to product improvement.

Launching a website is a good starting point, but refining and improving it will make it a success. Ensuring you are tracking the right metrics is key to understanding – and improving – the productivity of your site.

Setup Google Analytics: Google Analytics allows you to track key metrics for your website including:

1. Number of visitors
2. How long people spend on your site
3. Where they came from (how they found you)
4. Which pages are the most visited

By tracking your website user’s behavior, you can make critical changes to increase the popularity and value of the content on the site. Click here to setup your google analytics account. Use the google analytics checklist to ensure you’ve set it up correctly.

Create signup goals:

Here are the three different ways you can setup goal tracking in Google Analytics. Event Tracking, URL Based Goals, and URL based Funnels

No matter the goal type, the first 4 steps for setting them up are the same:

  1. Find the profile for which you will be creating goals, and click ‘Edit’ under the ‘Actions’ column.
  2. Under the ‘Goals’ section, select one of the four sets to create your goal in (each set contains up to five goals) and click ‘Add goal.’ You can create up to 20 goals if you use all four sets.
  3. Enter the goal’s name so that you can quickly recognize it when viewing reports.
  4. Click the radio Button “Active” to make your goal live.

Now here is how to implement different types of goals.

Event Tracking (for advanced users, requires more reading)

  1. Select “Event” as a goal type
  2. For each drop down “Category” and “Action” select “is equal to” and enter the category and action put in the onSubmit snippet from your website.
  3. Enter the goal value determined in milestone  one.
  4. Click “save”

URL Destination (your best bet)

  1. Select “URL destination” as a goal type
  2. Enter the URL for your thank you page that a user is redirected two after submitting an email/performing an action.
  3. Select head match
  4. un-click “case sensitive”
  5. Insert your goal value previously determined.
  6. Click “save”

URL based Funnels
Follow the same steps outlined in a URL destination goal however follow these additional steps.

  1. Click “use funnel”
  2. Enter each step in your funnel and their URL’s plus an additional name for the step.
  3. Make sure to only use the suffix of the url. ie. mysite.com/thesuffix.html
Save these custom reports

Here are some custom reports that will get you started. It’s important you make sure the goal being tracked in the report coincides with the goals we setup earlier.

1. Browser Type Report - A look at browser type of visitors to your site.
2. Conversions/Landing Page Report - Landing pages and their overall performance.
3. The MASTER CONVERSION REPORT - This report offers a comprehensive drill down of your conversions and conversion rates per traffic source. Drill down into specific mediums and analyze goals and e-commerce activity.
4. Geographic Distribution of Visits Report - Take a look at the performance in different geographic regions.
5. Time of day trends report - Look at website activity during different hours of the day.
6. Content Efficiency Analysis Report - A great report for doubling down on great content.
7. Keyword Analysis Report -  For SEO make sure that your optimization efforts are working as intended. Is the right keyword pointing to the right page?
8. Link Analysis Report- What websites are sending you the best traffic? Find out with this report.

You’ll get a better understanding for how we made these by looking at how they are built. Edit the custom report and tweak things to get a better sense of how you can adapt the report to your specific needs.

Site Functions

Insert social links: Do you have social icons on your website? If you don’t, you should.

Check to make sure that all of your social links are pointing to the right place and pre-loaded with messaging that you’ve defined. Also make sure that they’re on a prominent place on your website to encourage sharing. You can use third-party plugins like Share This to easily add social sharing capability to your site.

Create an RSS feed if you have a blog: 

If your website has a blog or newsreel, you should have an RSS feed
that users can subscribe to. Users should be able to easily find your
RSS feed: the common convention is to put a small RSS icon in the
browser’s address bar.

Put this code between your <head> tags:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml"title="Site or RSS title" href="link-to-feed" />

Indexing your Website

Although search engines will generally find your website eventually, it’s good practice to submit your website to popular search engine listings to drive more traffic and “educate” them on your new site.  Below are the most popular services.

submit your site to al the major search engines: 

Go to: Yahoo!  http://add.yahoo.com/fast/add?54397758 - This used to be a paid service when Yahoo was a search powerhouse, you can click the “Standard Consideration” and have similar if not the same results.

Go to: Google  http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/ - Select your company status and click “Add your URL – Submit your website for inclusion in Google’s index

Go to: Bing https://ssl.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx - Scroll to the bottom of the page and submit your URL anonymously.

Go to: Dmoz http://www.dmoz.org/docs/en/add.html - dmoz is an open directory project that has been around for a long time. It functions on human classification of a URL, therefore you’ll need to search the directory for a topic, and sub topics that represent the classification of you website.

Hopefully if you’re outsourcing your website, or doing it in house you can use this checklist to make sure you cover all the bases. If you’d prefer the checklist in it’s interactive form you can get it for FREE here: http://www.startupplays.com/plays/The-Ultimate-Website-Checklist

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