Home » The Blog » WordPress » Easy WordPress Website Pre-Launch Checklist

Easy WordPress Website Pre-Launch Checklist

WordPress Website Prelaunch Checklist

Last month I posted You’ve launched your new website. Now what?. That prompted several folks to send an email asking for guidance to confidently know that they had all the boxes checked before launching. So, here we go!

You’ve worked hard to get your WordPress website ready for launch. This post will help you double-check that you have covered all the basics.

Before you launch, run through this easy pre-launch checklist to ensure all the settings and options available to you are where you want them to be. Once complete, you are good to go for launch.

Check all Your Primary WordPress Settings:

General:

  • Check your site title and tagline are correct.
  • Set your timezone and date format.
  • Make sure you have an Admin email address that uses your website domain. This is for security and to make sure you receive all website emails.

Writing:

  • Set your default blog category.
  • Default post format: Standard.
  • Other options only if you are going to use them.

Reading:

  • That should already be set so that your theme displays properly.
  • Set number of Blog and Syndication posts. I usually set at 5 and 5.
  • Set each post in feed to Excerpt. We want folks to come to your site to read your articles.
  • Search Engine Visibility: Uncheck “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.”

Discussion:

When I used to allow Comments, here are the settings I had in place. (READ: The History of WordPress Comments: On or Comments Off.)

WordPress website discussion settings.

You can uncheck “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” only if you have strong comment spam protection in place. For all my sites, whether I have comments or not comments, I use Clean Talk Spam Prevention.

Lower down on the Discussion page; you’ll find your Avatar settings that you can select based on your preference.

  • Show Avatars?
  • Set your website Rating.
  • Select your Avatar design.

Media:

  • Set your image sizes to any custom sizes designated by your theme. Otherwise, the defaults are fine as is.
  • Check if you want to organize your uploads into month-and year-based folders. I always have this checked. (Here’s a plugin I use to manage my media library.)

I always recommend going with “Post name.” This keeps your permalinks descriptive and readable.

WordPress Permalink Postname

You also have the option to set custom structures for your categories and tag URLs. By default, WordPress uses /category/ as the base for your category URLs and /tag/ for the tags pages.

But, you do have the option to change those if you feel you need to, for example:

https://yoursite.com/products/widgets/
https://yoursite.com/features/steel/

Privacy:

This is where you will designate your Privacy Policy Page. You need to have one before you launch, so visitors know what data you are collecting and what you will do with it. Again, WordPress includes a guide to help you. Click “Check out our guide.”

Theme Specific Settings

  • Delete any starter/dummy content you are not using that was installed with your theme.
  • Make sure all your theme-specific settings are in place. Some themes install their own dashboard that you can access from the left sidebar of your dashboard. Others can be found in Appearance > Customize.
  • Go through every theme setting to ensure you have everything set the way you desire.

Appearance Customization Settings

You’ll want to go through each section and double-check the settings within. I’m using my site, which uses Kadence, so you can see all the options available to customize.

  • Colors and Fonts: Kadence allows you to designate your site-wide color palette and the fonts you want o use.
  • Header: Graphics, layout, styles.
  • Footer: Build your footer with columns and widgets.
  • General: The basics.
  • Post/Pages Layout: Layout, design, title position, padding, and so much more.
  • Search Results: Customize how content will display when searches are performed on your website.
  • Site Identity: Includes your logo and site icon (favicon). Use the exact size that your theme provider advises for the logo to get the best results. For your favicon, you’ll need a graphic that is 512 x 512. My article How to Further Your Brand with the Right Favicon has additional tips.
  • Menus: What, where and order of.
  • Widgets: Various widget areas and settings.
  • Homepage Settings: Hompage specific settings that you can customize
  • Additional CSS: This is where you can add your own CSS snippets that will override your theme’s CSS.
  • Custom Scripts: For snippets like those provided by Google Analytics and other services to verify your website and collect data.
  • Yoast SEO Breadcrumbs: How and where they will display.

Images

One of the primary reasons WordPress websites receive poor performance scores is unnecessarily large image files. Images are uploaded in sizes that are too large for what is needed to display—many times by thousands of pixels.

You want to know the exact size required by your theme for specific areas. Then, create and upload images no larger than necessary. This process is critical to your site’s speed metrics.

  • Use recommended image sizes for your theme. (Header, Logo, Featured)
  • Optimize your images with the Smush plugin.
  • Name image files to be representative of the image itself.
  • When uploading images, fill out the “alt” field. Doing so is part of the SEO process.

Needed Plugins

  • Setup Yoast SEO including your XML sitemap
  • AntiSpam for comments.
  • Install a security plugin.
  • If you’re relaunching your old website, add 301 redirects for any URLs that have changed or been removed. (Yoast SEO Premium includes automatic redirecting when you change permalinks.)
  • Set up a cookie consent notice (and if in California CCPA compliance).

Important Tasks Many Overlook

  • Design a custom 404 page. With Kadence can set up a custom 404 page element. Not on Kadence, check out the 404 to 301 plugin for pages/posts you’ve removed to redirect to an informative page to guide visitors.
  • Update your Copyright in the footer. Then, mark your calendar to do so each December too. (Also, remove the theme name and link with your company name.)
  • Update your social media account headers to match your new site logo/colors/theme.
  • Connect your social accounts/share buttons.
  • Setup RSS Subscribe Option
  • Google Console: Verify your website and submit your Site Map
  • Setup and integrate Google Analytics ( Add the tracking code in Appearance > Customize > Theme Settings > Header/Footer Scripts)
  • Run a Mobile-Friendly Test
  • Review Site Speed and Performance
  • Check your site on various browsers.
  • Setup off-site/server backups.
  • Run eCom and email tests (contact forms).

Now the Really Hard Work Begins

The above is not the end all be all. Parameters, plugins, and strategies will change based on your type of business and what you want to accomplish.

Many launch their website and then sit and wait. Or expect search engines to start sending traffic immediately. With this approach, you’ll be sitting and waiting a long time. Nothing happens online by happenstance or osmosis.

You have to make it happen and keep making it happen. Here’s your next step

At your service,

Judith: WordPress Consultant and Business Coach
WordPress website products and services you can trust!