The Ultimate eCommerce Checklist – Pre and Post-Launch Website Guide

Jump to: Technical | Content | Branding | Post-Launch

Introduction

Whether you’re looking to launch a new eCommerce website or have a new version of a site in development, we thought it’d be handy to put together the ultimate cross-platform eCommerce checklist.

The checklist focuses on points to consider when migrating platforms or launching a new site, and the steps to consider before, during and after site launch.

From launching a new WooCommerce site and taking your first steps into the world of eCommerce to migrating a Magento site and launching a custom Shopware site, this list will be your comprehensive guide along the way.

Pre-Launch Ecommerce Checklist – Technical Development Considerations

  • Site Architecture –Before getting started with any development work, it’s imperative that the site architecture is laid out, with the corresponding HTML and SEO features to support it. We recommend outlining the new and old sites in a site structure spreadsheet, making sure to include the following:
    • Menu Name & Structure
    • Categories Structure (first level, second level etc.)
    • Recommended URL
    • H1, title tag, meta description
    • Keyword research data for content expansion relating to each page
      A site structure spreadsheet also helps in benchmarking existing SEO and content data before the new site is launched.
  • Redirect URLs – If the site is being migrated, an extensive list of all old to new redirect URLs is essential in ensuring that no pages are lost, and ensures that pages which are not being kept have a relevant redirect in place to the new site (such as all links from an old forum redirecting to a blog on the new site).
  • Hosting – Ensure the correct hosting package is purchased for the exact needs of your eCommerce site. Ideally the hosting package should be managed and dedicated, with an SSL certificate included. This option is not for all budgets, but is definitely worth the extra time to explore and purchase the absolute best hosting package you can afford.
  • Server Logs – If any debug output has been used during development, make sure this is disabled before going live. This is to avoid slowing down the site and filling the hard drive of the server with unnecessary data.
  • Extensions and License Keys – Ensure all license keys and extensions are up to date, and are not due to expire around the time of launch.
  • Test Ordering – By submitting test orders, you will be able to fully trial the entire purchasing process of the site, identifying issues which may not have been apparent until users experience them once the site goes live.
  • Search Filters – Ensure that all necessary product search filters are in place. If not, ensure that all relevant filters are added prior to the site launch to make it as easy as possible for the customer to whittle down the product selection to get to the products they want.
  • Robots.txt – The robots.txt file identifies to search engines the pages which should not be crawled on the site, and keeps the site from producing duplicate content. This includes:
    • Filtered URLs – Any time a product is filtered a new page is created. This means there is a large amount of duplicate content through the number of filters available on a product, and the number of products on a site.
    • Site search URLs – The search result a user is shown when they search for a product in your site is a page. Again, these need to be included in the robots.txt file to avoid instances of duplicate content.
    • Cart related pages – Anything to do with the checkout, and user related pages such as an account. These pages may contain personal information, or are not relevant pages which need to be added to indexation.
  • Sitemap – The sitemap shows search engines the way in which your website is structured, which is a huge help for rapid indexation and crawling of the site (especially new sites). The majority of ecommerce platforms generate their own sitemaps, so the sitemap URL can just be copied into Google’s Search Console and submitted for indexation.
  • Canonical URLs – A primary consideration for pagination and category pages, canonical URLs tell the search engines the pages which a site wants to prioritise. Another form of combating duplicate content, canonicals are used for paginated pages to refer back to the primary page (the one which should be indexed and shown in search engine results pages).
  • Site Speed – Website speed is of vital importance when it comes to launching an effective site. Data shows that 40% of users will not stay on a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, so it’s paramount that a pre-site check includes the following steps related to page speed and site loading times:
    • Images – Most eCommerce sites use sliders and large images on top-category level pages. These must be compressed (to a level which does not affect quality), or be called via a CDN to decrease the number of requests for the server of your site.
    • Scripts – CSS/JS files must be minified where possible, and deferred to a point in which they are only called when they are needed. This saves the server from calling unnecessary files, which again adds to the wait time of the page.
    • Browser Caching – Ensure that caching is enabled, which results in a faster load time for return visitors as the website is already cached by the browser.
  • Newsletter and Integrated Marketing – If your site is using an integrated marketing software (MailChimp, Dotmailer etc), be sure that the software is set up prior to the launch. Also ensure that a newsletter sign-up form is visible, and non-intrusive.

PushON eCommerce Checklist Image

 

Pre-launch – Content & SEO considerations

Having touched on SEO within the development section, we are now going to cover the remaining on-page and technical SEO factors which are left to consider prior to launching the site.

  • Content – This refers to optimising content across all areas of the site. Using the keyword research included in the pre-launch site structure spreadsheet, content must be developed in line with brand tone of voice, and for organic SEO purposes. Be sure to include internal links within your text, particularly on top-level pages (which makes it much easier for mobile users to navigate around your site too). Combining quality content with internal links also gives search engines a greater indication of how the data across your website is linked, and which pages to assign a larger crawl budget to.
  • Images – Alt tags are an often-overlooked factor when it comes to SEO. By adding a descriptive alt tag, the site will not only be optimised for screen readers, but will also be benefiting from an additional set of keywords which are completely favoured by search engines.
  • Structured Data – Structured data in this sense refers to how your content is structured on your site. Each page must have an H1, with H2s and even H3s recommended to split up content and keep the content within the page broken up in a way that makes it easier for search engines to understand the structure of the page.
  • Schema – This code provides search engines with a greater context about the information being displayed on the page. Much like rich snippets (pulled from structured data), Schema increases the depth of information showed in the search engine results pages. There are countless variations of Schema markup, but the main ones to include in an eCommerce site are:
    • Organisation
    • Review
    • Product
    • Pricing
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<script type="application/ld+json"&gt;<br />
{<br />
"@context": "http://schema.org",<br />
"@type": "ItemList",<br />
"url": "http://multivarki.ru?filters%5Bprice%5D%5BLTE%5D=39600",<br />
"numberOfItems": "315",<br />
"itemListElement": [{<br />
"@type": "Product",<br />
"image": "http://img01.multivarki.ru.ru/c9/f1/a5fe6642-18d0-47ad-b038-6fca20f1c923.jpeg",<br />
"url": "http://multivarki.ru/brand_502/",<br />
"name": "Brand 502"<br />
},{<br />
"@type": "Product",<br />
"name": "..."<br />
}<br />
],<br />
"offers": {<br />
"@type": "Offer",<br />
"price": "4399 p."<br />
}<br />
}<br />
</script>

 

  • AMP –Accelerated Mobile Pages are the ultimate solution to optimising your blog content for search engines. By stripping out JavaScript and streamlining existing files, the average load time for an AMP-optimised page is 400 milliseconds. It’s therefore worth the time to set up.
  • Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are another way for search engines to easily understand how data is linked internally. Pages optimised with breadcrumbs may also have breadcrumbs shown in the results pages, with ease of use also increased for mobile users who can click back to their previous page with ease.
  • International SEO Considerations – If the eCommerce store is focused on more than one country, be sure that the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the user is directed to the right version of the site, has the ability to change the country/currency across the site, and that international SEO is set up to display the correct version of the site in international SERPs. Key factors to implement are:
    • Payment Gateways – Ensure the correct payment gateways are implemented for each country, or that the payment options in place are supported in those countries.
    • Translation options for pages in different languages.
    • Options for currency conversions.
    • Href lang tags for the correct version of the site to be shown in international search results.

Pre-Launch – Branding and Design

Brand considerations may seem obvious when launching an eCommerce site, but it’s always good to use a checklist to make sure that all areas of branding have been covered, and are consistent across the site. It is important to note that accessibility and usability must be at the forefront of any design or branding process when it comes to developing a website. Ensuring a site is both usable across platforms and reflective of your brand is key to developing a website that visitors can use with ease.

Areas of brand consideration include:

  • Colour Schemes – The colour scheme of a website sets the tone for the brand. For instance, a black and gold colour scheme may convey luxury, and fit towards a B2C website, whereas a stripped-back, plain site will be set up for B2B customers.
  • Logo – This not only refers to logo consistency, but also to how the site approaches logos on different platforms. For instance, if your site displays a large logo on desktop, is it going to switch to a smaller text alternative for mobile users?
  • Font – Font across the site needs to fit within the same family/design scheme. As much of a part of your brand as the logo, font across the site must be carefully implemented, to ensure that it both matches the style of the brand, and that it maintains consistency across the entire site.
  • Tone of Voice – Aside from T&Cs and any legalities which need to be included, the tone of voice across the site needs to remain consistent in order to reassure the visitor that the brand reflects their ideals, and that they’re making the right choice in visiting your site. Whether this tone of voice is a fun and friendly one for a modern retailer, or remains professional throughout for a B2B website, it cannot be overlooked as a vital component to maintaining consistent branding for your business.
  • Images and Product Data – This is often an overlooked aspect. Many eCommerce storefront owners will simply adopt the default options of displaying products, and images alongside them. If you’ve been putting a lot of effort into uniquely branding the rest of the site, then why stop at the storefront? Users will expect to see the same effort across the entire site, therefore product display options must be experimented with, to find a suitable approach which both fits with the branding of your online presence, and uniquely displays your product offering to the users looking to be swayed by your brand.

Images, Products & Website Design - PushON

 

Post-Site Launch Checklist

The first week – What to look out for, and how to ensure everything runs smoothly

The site is prepped, checklists are double-checked, and everything is in place. The fun doesn’t end here! Once live, there are certain points you’re going to need to look out for to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.

  • Databases – Ensure no test data Is left in the existing database for when the site goes live. This includes:
    • Sales data
    • Configuration (URLs, 3rd party integrations etc.)
    • Product data
    • Customer data – This could cause problems such as false customer data and incorrect product listings.
  •  Split testing – This is a valuable tool for analysing how the site is performing from a UX perspective, as a split-tested site clearly shows the most effective version of the new site. It is up to you how the ‘best’ version of the site is measured. Sales, interactions and click-throughs are a great place to start.
  • Analytics – Keep an eye on bounce and exit rates, particularly during the first week of the site launch. Have bounce and exit rates increased? Are the rates related to pages with historical issues, or pages on the new site?
  • 404 monitoring – After implementing the redirects from the pre-launch redirect map, keep a constant eye on 404 pages in case any of the redirects have fallen short. Regular site crawls are recommended to constantly monitor the status of the pages, particularly over the initial 24-hour period of the site migration. This includes monitoring console files and errors for 404 issues too, which may result in a broken page/site if they are not immediately rectified.

PushON eCommerce pre, during & post site launch image

Continued Analysis & Monitoring

The site has been launched, the teething problems have been soothed, and all pages are up and running. You’re not out of the woods yet. Constant monitoring, testing and analysing is essential for continual growth of any site, and is particularly important for an eCommerce site. Here are a couple of points to consider for maintaining consistent growth, and to keep track of how users are interacting with your site:

  • Internal site search analysis – Looking at internal search data is an incredibly insightful way of seeing how users are interacting with the site. Not only will the data highlight product trends and popular products users are looking for, but it will also indicate any gaps in the site which can be addressed via dedicated landing pages and providing users with the pages (and even products) they’re searching for.
  • New content – Consistent analysis is key to new content creation. Looking at Search Console and analytics data will provide the insight you need to create new content. New pages and blog posts are the best way to target the keywords your audience are searching for, using high quality, unique and structured content to effectively optimise the latest additions to your site.
  • Banner/Upsell Testing – Upselling is a great way to increase the length of stay of the users on your site, and ultimately to get them to spend more money too. If they have X product in their basket, integrated upselling software can recommend products Y and Z too. Split testing is paramount with this approach too; banners and non-intrusive recommendations are a must.

Conclusion

Be sure to keep testing the site, analysing the data and creating new ways to interact with your audience.

A new site launch or site migration is going to vary from platform to platform, and from site to site. This guide is designed to give you an extensive insight into the actions you need to take to ensure the launch or migration goes smoothly.

Checklist Download