OK…so what happens after go live?
The majority of the work we do here is design and build websites (we do lots of other things too, it’s just that web work accounts for the largest portion of how we serve our clients). In this post, we’ll look at what happens behind the scenes after we turn a new site “on”.
For purposes of this discussion, we’ll assume the client already had an existing site that needed to be replaced because it was originally created by someone who probably should find another profession 🙂
Once the site is “live” where the public can see it when you type in the domain name (the dubya dubya dubya address), we have a bit more work to do:
1) 301 Redirects: Essentially, this is mapping any old links to the new locations. As an example, perhaps Google shows a link called www.domain.com/contact.html. As most of the sites we build are on WordPress, none of the pages will have the .html file type. They ARE still html, they just don’t have that extension anymore. So, in order not to confuse the search engines (and the folks trying to visit your site), we provide an automated way for people to actually get to the correct content on the new platform: in this example we’ll redirect them from /contact.html to simply /contact or /contact-us. This is a vital step to avoid those pesky 404 Page Not Found errors.
2) Google Analytics: The ultimate traffic tracking tool is essential to see where folks are coming from, how long they are staying and what they are looking at on your site. It’s a free tool and it’s recommended on every site. We’ll have you sign up for an account, then we’ll plug the tracking code into the backend. There’s also a really cool widget we can install, so you’ll see that tracking data right from your WordPress Dashboard.
3) Site Map: Google likes to be told what pages you have on your site…it helps Google index the information and is literally a “map” of your site, so we’ll want to generate the map as a certain file type that Google likes.
4) Check all links: We spend some time making sure all the links on the site work and that we’re not getting any browser errors. If your site has a mobile version, we’ll do the same for it. Most of the time, as we’re developing the site for you, we’ll be doing it on a development server… so when it comes time to go live under your actual domain, we have to swap out each instance of the dev server name… so it’s good to double check everything.
5) Check forms: Most of the sites we build have forms (contact, request a quote, etc). So we do a test submission on each to ensure they are working properly.
6) Security! We use a security plugin (in fact we now require it) called Wordfence. It an industry-leading plug-in that allows us to monitor your site for any potentially security risks, problems and we can even block other countries from accessing the site (the one’s that are know for hacking attempts). It’s cheap and allows us to sleep at night! We love it.
7) Backup: We like to make a backup of everything once it’s live. That way, in case of a catastrophe, we have an emergency plan.
Depending on a site’s features and functionality, there may be other items on the “launch” checklist, but the above items apply to almost every site we create.