You’ve created a website and you’re (understandably!) excited to launch it out into the world for people to see. But wait! Don’t be too hasty. It’s important to do what’s called a “sanity check” at the last minute to ensure your rollout goes as successfully as possible and that you are happy with the result.
Check for browser appearance
Each different web browser will display a website slightly differently, and not all features will be supported by all browsers. Before you roll out, your site, check to ensure it works well on at least the top three browsers: Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. It’s a good idea to also ensure it works well on Safari, to make the site viable for end-users visiting the site from a Mac.
Format your forms
If your site includes any kind of form (an order form for example) it’s important to ensure the forms will work properly. Ensure that mandatory fields are marked clearly and that any fields that contain invalid entries are highlighted to alert the user to the input error, usually in a different color from the rest of the color scheme to draw attention.
The smooth, intuitive navigation of a site is imperative to end-user navigation. It should be very clear how to get from one page to another, to return to the last page viewed, and to return to the home page. If your site visitors have to guess or search around for the information they want, they won’t bother. They’ll move on to another site that makes it easy for them to get around.
Check the security
The security of your website is very important, especially if you will be collecting personal information from your customers. Ensure your security measures are rock-solid. To go the extra mile, consider having a penetration tester go through the site to check for potential security breaches.
Overall site performance
Visit your site as if you are a user. How does it perform? Do the images take a long time to load? Are there broken links? Is the navigation smooth? If anything annoys you about the way your site performs, there’s a very good chance those same things will also annoy your customers. Fix anything that bothers you and you’ll go a long way toward improving the site performance for your end users.
Check for responsive design
These days, not everyone views a webpage with a desktop computer. Many people visit websites from a variety of devices, such as phones, tablets, TV screens or smart watches. Because of that, it’s important to ensure that your site design is responsive and that it can be viewed the way it is meant to be seen on a variety of screen sizes. You can either design your site in a mobile-first fashion or choose to optimize for most common screen resolutions (generally 800x600 and 1024x768). Web browsers used on small devices such as phones will zoom out so that all content can be seen on the page if the user pinches and zooms to see the content they desire.
If you have created your site such that it is possible for users to change the content to be displayed in different languages, your pre-launch checklist should also include a check of the site in each language. This is particularly important so that you can check for the use of non-English languages that may use accented characters. It’s important to ensure that these languages’ characters are displayed correctly.
It’s not reasonable to expect a site developer to find all of the bugs in a piece of software, but you can certainly verify how those errors are handled and displayed to a user. You don’t want your users to see an error dump that reveals your source code and information about the infrastructure of your website. With access to that information, a hacker could feasibly crash your server and cause all kinds of breaches to your security.
Instead of source code, your site visitors should be greeted by an error page whenever these events happen. For each type of error, it’s a good idea to create a screen that says something like “that page could not be found,” or “Oops! Something has gone wrong!”
Overall look and feel
Go through your site page by page to ensure that the overall look and feel of your site is consistent throughout the site. Font choice, alignment, spacing, etc. should be the same throughout. Headings should look the same. Navigation and the “breadcrumb trail” on each page should be the same throughout. Ensure each page has the headers and footers it requires, etc. Although it may seem insignificant if a page or section of a page looks different than the rest, it is actually quite jarring to the eye of and end user. For a more professional image, be sure your site has a consistent look and feel throughout every page.
It may be tempting to skip these last-minute steps to ensure your site is in launch-ready shape, but it’s never a good idea to skip them. Cutting corners in this step could mean that your site doesn’t look and perform as well as it could. When that happens, your visitors’ user experience is compromised and the reputation of your website is lessened. Don’t let that happen. Take the time to go through your site with a fine-tooth comb and a critical eye and you can launch your site with the confidence that it is going to look and perform as you intended.
If you work with a web development company such as Kamil Web Solutions, they will perform this sanity check for you.