Checklist: Finish a Site

Before release:

  1. Spellcheck all pages.
  2. Do a quick edit for sense. If you’re working for a client, make sure they read through the pages as well.
Behind the scenes:
  1. Make sure that each page has its own descriptive title–“Welcome to XYZ – Contact Us,” for example. The title appears at the very top of the browser page. In the code, the title will appear in the heading area as <Title>Welcome to XYZ – Contact Us </title>
  2. Make sure that each page has its own description, which shows  up on search results pages. In the code, this will appear in the heading area as <meta name=”description” content=”[descriptive text here ] />
  3. Add keywords, including likely misspellings, to each page. Look for <meta name=”keywords” content=”Susan Fowler,Suan Fowler,Susan Flower” />
  4. Make sure that the character set is UTF-8 (Unicode). Look for  <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″ /> in the heading area code.
  5. Add Google Analytics code. Sign into Google Analytics here:  https://www.google.com/analytics/. To find the code, go to the site for which you want the code, click the “gear” icon at the upper right, and then select the Tracking Code tab. (Other Google Analytics versions might look or work a bit differently, but the options are the same.)
Links:
  1. Check that all links work. Dreamweaver automates this–use Site > Check Links Sitewise –but it’s also good to test each link in a browser because Dreamweaver is only going to check that the link is live, not that it’s the right one.
  2. Check that all internal links open in the same browser window.
  3. Check that all external links open in a new window–don’t let readers leave your site unless you have a really good reason to let them go.
  4. Check all the mailto links. In the visible text, obfuscate the email addresses, either by spelling out “at” or separating the @ sign from the rest of the address. For example, info -at- yoursite.com. You can also use obfuscating code, available at HTML Code Obfuscator. Behind the scenes, however, make sure that the mailto link is correct–for example, mailto:info@yoursite.com, not mailto:info -at- yoursite.com.
  5. Make sure that the menu option for the page you’re on is NOT live. If the link is live and someone clicks the menu option for the current page, the page has to reload and may flash. Also, having no underline or color change on the current page’s menu option helps show users what page they’re on.
  6. Use Google’s Webmaster Tools to check for crawl errors (in other words, errors that Google encountered when checking links back to your site). Sign up for Webmaster Tools, if necessary, choose your site, and then check Crawl Errors under Diagnostics (left menu).
Visuals:
  1. Make sure that all pictures have both ALT and TITLE tags.
  2. Make sure nothing “bounces”–that as you go from one page to the next, the banner doesn’t change position, the heading 1 isn’t higher or lower on the page, etc. If the page is bouncing, look for
    • stray < or / characters
    • extra paragraphs
    • paragraphs in the first sentence of a table row (this adds extra space in a row; the subsequent sentences can have paragraph markers)
    • different styles for the same type of information–for example, one page uses “heading 1” but another uses “heading 2.”

On release:

  1. Tell Bing and Google that the site has been published or revised and that they should index it (Yahoo no longer does its own indexing):
    • Bing: Go to http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster/, log in, and on the Webmaster Center page, click Add Site at the bottom, under Sites. Pick the first option, Place an XML File on Your Server (unless you’re using blog software, in which case, use Option 2).
    • Google: Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home and click the ADD A SITE button at the upper right. Follow the instructions for verifying the site.

Extras:

  1. Check that the translate option works.
  2. Check that the form goes to the right person’s email address.
  3. Check that the CAPTCHA works.
  4. Check that the PayPal or other payment button works and that the right information is being collected and passed on.
  5. If you’re replacing pages, point the old pages to the new ones or to index.htm using an .htaccess file. This way, readers won’t get Page Not Found errors and the Google ranking of the original pages aren’t lost. See http://www.htaccessredirect.net/index.php for help.

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