How to test a website before you launch: a 28 point checklist

How to test a website before you launch: a 28 point checklist Author .  Available from <> [Sept 20, 2016]

Three years ago, Mark Knowles wrote a thoroughchecklist for testing a website prior to its live launch. It was a very helpful guide, so we thought we’d update it for the current digital landscape.

Here we present a guide on how to test a website, full of updated information and tips to make sure everything looks and works exactly as it should on launch day. Everyone has a role here, and that’s how the tasks have been divided – for Editors, Designers, Developers, SEOs and Network Administrators.

Please note: many of the tips below are from Mark Knowles, but have been updated to reflect any changes.

For the Editor and Writers…

1. Spelling, grammar, punctuation

Check for proper spelling, typos, and grammar site-wide. Not just in article text and headlines, but also throughout the navigation, calls-to-action, buttons, forms etc.

2. Forms

Fill out the forms on the site and go through the following questions:

  • Can the flow be improved?
  • Do you get stuck?
  • Are the instructions accurate?
  • Does the completed form get sent to the right people or person?

3. Check images

Make sure your images are all optimised for the web. Ensuring they’re not too large – and site-speed draining. As well as being properly labelled with titles and alt-text.


4. Context

When giving a critical eye to the pages within the site, ask:

  • Why would I visit this page?
  • Is the content ready for visitor?
  • Does the page address the audience?

For the Web Designer

5. Site speed

Check the size of your page sizes and their load time. You can use Google’s own site speed testto do this. Site speed is a ranking factor, so follow any improvements Google recommends as closely as you can.

6. Mobile friendliness

Is your website mobile-friendly. Frankly it’s very difficult not to building a multi-device compatible website in 2016, but just in case, here’s a handy checklist to ensure your website’s mobile-friendliness.


7. Compatibility

Check to make sure your website’s pages render well in common browsers. Browser share is a moving target so to help prioritize efforts, here’s a site that continually examines it.

8. Fonts

Sometimes font codes get dropped into a page inadvertently and make a letter or a word look funny. Check to see that the formatting is consistent, and look for odd blips in the copy.

9. Navigation

Test the navigation to breaking point. Make sure every single possible journey through your website leads to wherever its meant to without any broken links or wrong pages.

Makes sure your on-site search works, and it delivers accurate results, and if there are any zero-results that you’re providing navigation to other relevant pages.

For the Web Developer

10. Live URLs

Often, sites are built at a URL (uniform resource locator) that isn’t the website’s final destination. When a site goes live, the URLs are transferred from a staging area to production. All the URLs change at this time, and they need to be tested.

On small sites without any tools, you can navigate to each page to make sure they all work. On a site with fewer than 500 URLs, you can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool for free to find bad URLs. For larger sites, there is a modest annual fee.

11. Sign up to Google Search Console

Google Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools) is an invaluable tool for all webmasters. This is where Google will communicate with you should anything go wrong (crawling errors, manual penalties, increase in 404 pages, malware detected, etc.)

Search Console is also where you can monitor your site’s performance, identify issues, submit content for crawling, remove content you don’t want indexed, view the search queries that brought visitors to your site, monitor backlinks.

You should also sign up to Bing Webmaster Tools.

12. Minify

This is a technique that combines and compresses website code into smaller chunks to speed up your site. You can read more about it at Google. Then, look at the website pre-launch to see if the site is using minify where it can.

13. 404 pages

When a 404 (“page not found”) error occurs, make sure you have a custom page to help your visitor find something else of use, even if it wasn’t what they were looking for. Do you have an HTML sitemap there? Does the 404 page include a site search?

14. Favicon

Favicons are those little iconic images that show up in the address bar and tabs of your browser. How does it help? It’s a small branding opportunity that lends credibility to your site. It’s nice to have one when you launch.

For the SEO team

15. 301 Redirects

Sometimes content is repurposed or gets moved to fit the new navigation structure of a site. If you have an existing site and you are changing the URL structure with your new site, you’ll want to make sure you’ve mapped the old URLs to the new ones.

The Screaming Frog spider mentioned earlier can be run on both the old site and the new. An Excel spreadsheet is a great way to document this effort. Column A has the old URL, and you place the new URL in Column B. Each row represents a redirect from old to new. On launch day, it’s time to execute.

16. Title Tags/Meta Data

This may sound like old news to some, but this easy-to-fix mistake happens every day. Make sure every page has a title tag, and make sure they are unique.

Also make sure each has a meta description. Although these snippets used in search aren’t necessarily a ranking signal, they will help a searcher decide whether to click-through or not.

17. XML Sitemaps/HTML Sitemap

Make sure your new website has an accurate site map in both XML and HTML format. You canupload your sitemap to Search Console, however most CMSs such as WordPress will automatically build a sitemap for you.

18. Analytics

Make sure Google Analytics or the analytics package you’re using, is set up and ready to go from day one so you can measure and analyse traffic to your site.

19. Structured markup

If you’re using Schema markup or any other structured data, is it rendering correctly in SERPs? You can check any errors and how to fix them in the structured markup section of Search Console.

20. Accelerated Mobile Pages

If you’re using Google’s AMP project to provide mobile searchers with faster loading web pages, you need to make sure these are rendering properly. Here’s a guide to implementing Google AMP on your website.

21. Social media integration

Do the social media icons on the site go to the correct pages? Do you have the right buttons and social plugins installed for what you are trying to accomplish and what you want the user to be able to do? (For example, does it ‘share a post’ rather than ‘Like’ your page on Facebook.)

22. SERP Display

Are the search engines displaying your pages correctly in the search engine results pages? Did you write proper meta descriptions, but they aren’t being used? Thoroughly investigate your visibility in Search Console.

23. PPC Setup

Make sure if you’re running any PPC campaigns that they’re set up and ready to go with the site launch. To avoid a lapse in service, if you have a Google PPC rep, you can set and pause all your campaigns to the new URLs prior to launch, and instead of the ads getting disapproved, your rep can approve them manually.

For the Network Administrator

24. Monitoring

A site monitor checks pages regularly to make sure it is available for visitors. Basic monitors check if the page is working.

Important pages within the site should have enhanced monitors that test if a completed form behaves the way it should. Enhanced monitors are more expensive to setup and keep running so the page in question needs to justify the additional expense.

25. Backup System

Have you thought about what happens if the server goes down? Make sure the backup system is configured properly, and the recovery process has been tested so you know it works.

26. Traffic Loads

Think about what might happen to your site if it gets an influx of heavy traffic. There are load test software tools that allow you to simulate heavy loads. If you are expecting big crowds, this is a must.

27. Protected Pages

Does your site have pages that require user credentials to view? If so, do the credentials work? From the opposite angle, also check to see that the pages can’t be viewed without proper credentials. Make several attempts to get to those URLs without proper credentials to make sure the security is working as expected.

28. Secure Certificate

If your site is ecommerce, or you’re using encrypted pages to protect visitor privacy on a form or elsewhere, you’ll want to check your certificate on launch day.

To do this, go to the encrypted section of your site. When the lock appears in the address bar, right click on it and read the message your visitors will read. It should have your name on it and state that it’s valid. If the lock doesn’t appear or the name isn’t right, let your provider know.

How to test a website before you launch: a 28 point checklist Author .  Available from <> [Sept 20, 2016]

Top 5 E-Commerce Trends Of 2016

Top 5 E-Commerce Trends Of 2016 BY Amy Watson.  Available from <> [20/09/2016]

Ready to take on the world of e-commerce? If your answer is “not just yet”, here are some reasons why this year is the best time to pursue your online business dreams. 2016 is a great time to start working on the e-commerce dream you’ve had with the help of social media, different lending preferences, crowd funding, and the advancement of technology.

There are a lot of new trends in store for any passionate e-commerce startup with a great vision for an e-commerce business idea. This article will get you inspired by discussing the current situation and trends of e-commerce today perfect for any e-commerce startup like you for the year 2016.

But First, What Is E-Commerce?

E-commerce utilises an electronic network or the internet as a platform for buying and selling of goods and services. Usually, transactions under the e-commerce platform are B2B or business-to-business, B2C or business-to-consumer, C2C or consumer-to-consumer, and C2B or consumer-to-business. An e-commerce business usually makes use of various applications like email, online catalogues or shopping carts, social media, and the like.

Customers find e-commerce advantageous given its convenience, round-the-clock availability, speedy process, and the wide range of choices on goods and services available at the tip of their fingers. But the major downsides toeE-commerce in the perspective of a customer are that there is only a limited customer service, a long wait time, and the absence of concrete inspection of the product you wish to purchase.

Why Should You Start An E-Commerce Business?

Mobile and internet use have expanded globally making e-commerce advance radically over the years. With this fact comes the immense opportunity for storefronts to develop their significance and expand their market by finding their place online. The idea of starting an e-commerce business can cross any person’s mind considering the ease of access.

The only problem now is how to come up with a unique e-commerce business idea that can spark the interest of customers. It is common knowledge that an entrepreneur needs to carry out an in-depth research before going into any business. Before you wrack your brain for a distinct business niche to sell, it would be best if you check out the success stories of e-commerce pioneers.

Here are the top five e-commerce innovative ideas and trend from this year from the top dogs to inspire you in jumpstarting your e-commerce business venture.

1. Web To Print Business

Web to Print or web2print SaaS (software as a service) is where people can take advantage of the internet to customise/improve their desired products before being finalised by the seller company to print the designs along with producing the products. Products can range from brochures, catalogues, business cards, postcards, flyers, and other branding propaganda and even those that involve wide-format printing like banners. A good web-to-print software is used to realise all this. Here, the software may enable the customer to customise the “look” of a certain product, submit it to company for finalisation, then more possible needed coordination before the products are produced, that are all done seamlessly using the software, such as those from ( where customers can connect with their different requirements that they might just need for their projects.

2. Subscription E-Commerce

Here’s a good idea to spice up everybody’s month in the year: do subscription e-commerce! Imagine this: you send your customers a monthly (or it depends how often) box of treats by subscribing to your service! If you’re into organic food products, customers can get a monthly basket of organic goodies depending on the ingredients on season. If you’re into fashion, you can send them a box of trendy pieces depending on what’s hot at the moment like how Stitch Fix and Trunk Club do it. There’s no limit to your creativity and the systems you can employ to make it perfect! From your daily dose of coffee, your kid’s and pet’s playthings and even your personal hygiene products can come in a box every month. You can add it as a feature of your business, or you can base your service entirely to just that! (

3. Online Grocery Store Via Apps

Nobody likes to find themselves waiting for hours at an overcrowded grocery store just to get their supplies. Sometimes you even have to haggle for your shopper’s discounts. With the advent of online food ordering apps, you can now skip preparing a shopping list, asking a shopkeeper which aisle it’s found and worrying about whether you’ve brought enough cash with you. This e-commerce idea delves into this common inconvenience. An online grocery app allows customers to choose grocery or food items, the method of delivery and even the mode of payment. (

4. Hotel Room Booking Via Apps

One of the inconveniences a person has to experience when it comes to going on vacations is the hassle of booking a hotel. You still have to worry whether it’s at a close proximity to your venue, fully booked, clean, and other things. With hotel mobile apps taking an innovative approach into hospitality marketing, hotels can provide a seamless reservation process, using push notifications or in-app messaging to provide personalised service and to relay valuable information to their guests about their stay. There are also curated guides in the apps containing leisure activities, restaurants, transportation tips and location maps that guests can use. Like how The Bulgari Hotel in London utilises their curated mobile booking app as a guide with information ranging from nightlife, shopping, and galleries for the Bulgari traveller. (

5. Product Curation E-Commerce

Modern shoppers are drawn to the convenience of e-commerce simply because they value their time more than anything. At the same time, customers are faced with choice overload while needing some expert purchasing advice. This e-commerce practice had brands exploring on personalising the shopping experience – which led to the trend of curated shopping. Curated e-commerce aims to assist shoppers on finding out products based on their own unique tastes and preferences. Websites and online apps like ShoeDazzle, JustFab, and MYHABIT let their customers take a quick online quiz to specify their style preferences, physical profile and available budget. The agony of choice is quite real, and anything that will help alleviate the overload will be much appreciated. (

This year, many e-commerce trailblazers established even more unique ideas for the already abundant industry. This is also an exciting time to be in the e-commerce industry seeing as how everyone strives to innovate. But innovation isn’t all about the investment; creativity is what makes all the good difference. What’s great with the online platform is that it doesn’t necessarily require big capital but rather outside-the-box thinking. You will have an edge if you can see possibilities where others can’t. Prepare yourself to create new ideas as 2016 reveals many attractive and rare assortments in the e-commerce realm.

Top 5 E-Commerce Trends Of 2016 BY Amy Watson.  Available from <> [20/09/2016]

Top 7 Ecommerce Tips for Success

Top 7 Ecommerce Tips for Success Written By: maulikshah.  Available from <> [July 26, 2016]

What makes an ecommerce business successful? Is it the products you sell, or their price or marketing? Ecommerce industry is continuing its upward trajectory, will continue to do so for some time. But the market is already crowded with a plethora of players and success would be hard to come by with a me too online store. Innovation in product strategy or delivery process is key to success in this competitive industry.

Focusing on the 4 PS of marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion can give you a starting point to build a strategy that leads you to ecommerce success.

Here are some tips that will guide you to success in the competitive world of ecommerce.

Create a Niche For Yourself

The days of general ecommerce stores are over. That war has already been won by Amazon and the other major players. If you get into eCommerce trying to become another amazon or eBay, that’s a surefire way to fail. The future of ecommerce is about specialty stores. Stores that specialize in one product category and stock deep. For example if you select eyewear as the category to specialize, stock so many variety for eyewear that even amazon doesn’t have. Become the destination for people looking to buy eyewear online.

Choose The Right Technology Platform

Since ecommerce business is heavily dependent on technology, Getting the right technology is critically important. Consult with a good ecommerce development company and decide on the platform. For example if you have enough resources, you can go with Magento. But if you want your development maintenance costs to be low you can go with WooCommerce.

Whichever platform you finalize you also need to ensure it is fully functional and scalable to meet the demands of a growing business.

Get Your Pricing Right

Your product pricing strategy may make or break your business. Do a thorough research of your competitors and their pricing and decided on your products prices (and discounts) accordingly. If you are in a very competitive category you may have to keep your prices low initially to make a dent in the market. You can run periodic discount offers to attract more customers. But try to strike a balance. Don’t give too much discounts or else customers will start expecting discounted price all the year round.

Examine Where Your Target Audience Is

Be it a small eCommerce business or big, you must know your customers and figure out where they hang out. Where they go to buy products and how they purchase. You need to take this step sincerely, because your eCommerce business is centered on your “customers”, what they look for and where they are. This will also help you improve your online store will give you insights on how to reach your target customers.

Promote Your Business Online

Online promotion is more suitable for ecommerce industry than any other. Since every promotional content will include product links, you have a great way of attracting customers to your online store and increase sales. Focus on organic SEO to increase traffic from search engines but focus equally well on paid promotion methods like PPC advertising through ad networks or social media sites depending on where your customers hang out more. PPC gives immediate sale and as long as your net ROI is positive its just a matter of scaling up your ad spend to grow your business.

Become A Credible Brand For Your Business

Assure your customers that your store is a good place to buy products from. Ask for testimonials and feedback’s of satisfied customers. To make your customers review products they purchase you can offer a small discount for their next order if they write a review. Integrate reviews from third party sites to your store to make the feedback look more genuine useful.

Get your website audited trusted certification companies like Verisign and show their certificate. Add a ssl certificate to your site to make the payment process more secure.

Improve Shopping Experience

If you want to sell more products, you must ensure that your buyers are not getting irritated, leaving their carts, just because of the long check out process or insufficient information or less than desirable checkout options. These problems can get escalated on mobile devices to make sure to make your online store completely responsive.

Apart from removing long check out process, you can eliminate the requirement of creating an account. Also ensure your default shipping option is pocket friendly. You should also include various payment options like credit card, debit card, mobile wallets, net banking, etc.

Final Thoughts

Success in ecommerce industry isn’t easy and would require creative ways to reach your target customers and make them more loyal to you through various means. Online shoppers are notorious for switching store far too often depending on who gives more discount. If you don’t build a brand and engage in price wars with your competitors then you are fighting a losing battle.

Top 7 Ecommerce Tips for Success Written By: maulikshah.  Available from <> [July 26, 2016]