Website launch checklist

You need to be cautious launching a fresh website, especially when you replace an existing site with high traffic. Regardless if you are using a staging site or not the goal is to avoid or minimize downtime and to make sure you didn't forget anything. For this I have put together a list I always check when a website goes live. Some of these you can only execute when the site has already gone live:

Set up a 404 page

A custom error page is more friendly than a default Page Not Found message and you give the chance to the visitor to browse in the navigation or the sitemap.
Add this code to the .htaccess file:
ErrorDocument 404 /404.php

301 redirects

Permanent redirects assure that your indexed pages by search engines will not return a 404 error page. Make sure you redirect every deleted links to the corresponding page.
Add this to your .htaccess
Redirect /oldlink.html http://wwweeebbb.com/newlink/

Check forms work and are delivered to the correct address

It is essential that messages are not lost when someone completes the contact forms. Check SMTP settings if necessary.

Check login and registration process

Check Terms, Privacy, cookie policy are in place

Check site speed and optimise if possible

webpagetest.org or similar tools will tell you if some files are too big and you can analize server response times too.

Compress css and js

If you have the possibility compress all style sheets in one file. Do the same with the scripts and you will boost site speed.

Check mobile usability

Check your head section and make sure you are using viewport meta tag:
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
Use media queries to change styles according to screen size:
@media screen and (max-width: 300px) {
    body { color: black; }
}

robots.txt

Allow or block robots to crawl sections of the website

User-agent: *
Disallow: /temp/

Html and xml sitemaps

Your site must have sitemaps containing all the links.

Redirect non-www to www

Canonical url
<link rel="canonical" href="http://wwweeebbb.com" />

Implement Google Analytics

Submit sitemap to webmaster tools

Check links across the site

brokenlinkcheck.com is a free service up to 500 pages and will crawl your site for broken links.

Check page titles, meta descriptions, keywords are in place

Open Graph protocol

<meta property="og:type" content="website" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://wwweeebbb.com/" />
<meta property="og:title" content="WWWEEEBBB.com - What is the Key to the Online Success?" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://wwweeebbb.com/images/landscape/04.png" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Too many digital projects fail because of the absence of a deliberate internet marketing strategy or because of deficient implementation." />

Activate CDN

Set up your site on a content delivery networks, like Cloudflare to increase performance.

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