There are many things that developers and marketers must keep in mind when they are about to launch a brand new website, but you may not necessarily have an actual checklist of to-do items. For this reason, this new website checklist has been compiled for your convenience. It may not be definitive, but it will help you get the fundamentals of your site right so that your website start’s life with its best foot forward.
1. Meaningful & Logical Structure
It is important to maintain a relevant relationship between the title of your pages and the content thereof. Keep in mind that search engines prefer URLs separated using hyphens instead of underscores. Use a flat architecture with economical use of directories so that content is as few clicks away from the root as possible.
2. Relevant, Unique Page Titles for Every Page
This is one aspect of development that can be easy to overlook, and it won’t make competition any easier for your website. Pages without custom titles look unprofessional and are a huge missed opportunity; Firefox will simply display your page as “Mozilla Firefox” and Internet Explorer will title it as your URL. At the time of writing, there are millions of indexed pages with “Untitled Document” as their title – don’t let your site be one of them!
3. Unique Meta Descriptions for Every Page
Considered useless by many, search engines do show meta descriptions in their search engine results page. If this is missing, then copy from the page will be used instead. If you are interested in having boosting your CTR from SERPs, it would be wise to create a unique meta description for each and every page. Think of the meta description like an advertisement to be read by users scanning the list of results, so make it stand out from the crowd!
4. Valid XHTML and CSS
It is always important to ensure your CSS and XHTML are valid without any issues, lest your website break in a browser. Always check that your website will work with a wide range of browsers to avoid usability problems for users and robots.
6. Use Includes for Footers, Headers and Navigation
It’s a hundred times easier to tweak your copyright date or your logo if you separate these commonly accessed files and turn them into includes. Anything that’s a common element on every page should be an include – it’s such a massive time saver!
7. Changeable Text Sizes for Better Usability
For the purposes of accessibility, this is definitely a must. Browsers will allow resizing of text if you specify their default size via ems or percentages. Constraints will be made when you use fixed pixel sizes, so avoid this unless absolutely necessary. It is much better not to force your readers to view content at one fixed size when you do not have to.
Sitemaps help a search engine to crawl your website and are a really useful tool in your SEO belt. Ideally you will have a sitemap (typically linked to from the footer) that users can consult if they get lost and another version optimised for crawlers.
9. Reserve User Names on Social Networks
The importance of social media both for branding, community building and driving traffic to your website cannot be emphasised enough. As people spend increasingly more time on websites like Facebook and Twitter, it becomes even more essential that you go to where the users are. When you’re reserving your domain name, check that it is possible to set up a profile using the same name on the most important social networks so that your branding is consistent.
This post was contributed by James Adams, a full time in-house analyst and product reviewer who currently works at a leading print cartridge supplier offering franking machine ink to businesses across the United Kingdom.