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Category Archives: Web Development

Website Launch Checklist: 25 Things to Test Before Your Site Goes Live

website-launch-checklist

Launching a website is a little like making homemade soup. You’ve got many ingredients coming together, and before you’re done adding them, you sample it to see that you got it just right. But this step – the testing – is often ignored before a site goes live.

Testing a new website can seem overwhelming. Teams aren’t sure where to start. But you may have more help than you know. Every team member can assist in the pre-launch process.

Most websites have writers, web developers, marketers, search engine optimizers, and network administrators coming together to create the site. These same people can help test it. Here’s how.

For the Writer or Editor

Writers and editors have strong attention to detail when it comes to the written content on your site. And this attention to detail can also be used for other tasks as well. Here’s what they can do pre-launch:

1. Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation

Check for proper spelling, typos, and grammar site-wide.

2. Forms

Fill out the forms on the site and go through the following questions:

  • Can the flow be improved?
  • Do you get stuck?
  • Are the instructions accurate?
  • Does the completed form get sent to the right people or person?

3. Site speed

Check the size of your page sizes and their load time. Here’s how:

  • Download Google Chrome
  • Navigate to your page in Chrome
  • Press F12
  • View “network” tab
  • Behold!

While Step 3 may appear technical, it doesn’t require a very technical person in order to be useful. The Gantt chart on the network tab will show what a page is doing when it loads in a browser. In the top right corner, they’ll be able to see the total load time.

Website Launch Checklist

In the Gantt chart, it shows how much time each element takes to load. Almost anyone can help find the culprit slow page. Just show the long, horizontal bars to your web developers or network administrators, and they can help.

4. Context

When giving a critical eye to the pages within the site, ask:

  • Why would I visit this page?
  • Is the content ready for visitor?
  • Does the page address the audience?

For the Web Designer

Web designers know what the original design intent is, and they have an eye for the visual details. They can usually spot when things don’t look quite right pretty quickly.

5. Compatibility

Multi-browser rendering is the bane of the Internet, but as website creators, we have to live with it. Check to make sure the pages render well in common browsers. Browser share is a moving target so to help prioritize efforts, here’s a site that continually examines it.

6. Fonts

Sometimes font codes get dropped into a page inadvertently and make a letter or a word look funny. Check to see that the formatting is consistent, and look for odd blips in the copy.

7. Images

Make sure all display text renders on the image when you hover over it (the alt attribute). Make sure the images display correctly. Are they larger than 120 kilobytes? If so, find out of there is a good reason for that. You really only need 72 dots per inch (dpi) for web images in terms of quality.

For the Web Developer

Web developers know the inner workings of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and how browsers handle those languages. There are some important technical items that a web developer is best suited for when it’s time to go live. Here are a few.

8. Live URLs

Often, sites are built at a URL (uniform resource locator) that isn’t the website’s final destination. When a site goes live, the URLs are transferred from a staging area to production. All the URLs change at this time, and they need to be tested.

On small sites without any tools, you can navigate to each page to make sure they all work. On a site with fewer than 500 URLs, you can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool for free to find bad URLs. For larger sites, there is a modest annual fee.

9. Validation

W3C-valid code is the one thing you can do prior to launch to have some confidence around a search engine spider being able to crawl your site. It’s pretty simple to know if a page is valid. You just paste the URL in question here, and you’ll get a report almost instantly.

With that report, you can attack the issues and get the page into compliance. To help even more, here are 10 common fixes.

10. Minify

This is a technique that combines and compresses website code into smaller chunks to speed up your site. You can read more about it at Google. Then, look at the website pre-launch to see if the site is using minify where it can.

11. 404 pages

When a 404 (“page not found”) error occurs, make sure you have a custom page to help your visitor find something else of use, even if it wasn’t what they were looking for. Do you have an HTML sitemap there? Does the 404 page include a site search?

12. Favicon

Favicons are those little iconic images that show up in the address bar and tabs of your browser. How does it help? It’s a small branding opportunity that lends credibility to your site. It’s nice to have one when you launch.

For the Search Engine Optimizer

SEO professionals bring an understanding of the web marketing focus. They can look at a number of things with perspective that can help the site right out of the gate with search engines.

13. 301 Redirects

Sometimes content is repurposed or gets moved to fit the new navigation structure of a site. If you have an existing site and you are changing the URL structure with your new site, you’ll want to make sure you’ve mapped the old URLs to the new ones.

The Screaming Frog spider mentioned earlier can be run on both the old site and the new. An Excel spreadsheet is a great way to document this effort. Column A has the old URL, and you place the new URL in Column B. Each row represents a redirect from old to new. On launch day, it’s time to execute.

14. Title Tags/Meta Data

This may sound like old news to some, but this easy-to-fix mistake happens every day. Make sure every page has a title tag, and make sure they are unique.

Also make sure each has a meta description. This is still a common source for search engine spiders to draw from to understand what the page is about and provide visitors with a sneak peak into the page contents from the results.

15. XML Sitemaps/HTML Sitemap

Make sure your new website has an accurate site map in both XML and HTML format. Both users and search engines care about this important element as it helps them find the pages they are looking for when other methods fail.

16. Tools

Make sure Google Analytics or the analytics package you’re using, and Google and Bing Webmaster Tools are set up and ready to go.

17. Social Media Integration

Do the social media icons on the site go to the correct pages? Do you have the right buttons and social plugins installed for what you are trying to accomplish and what you want the user to be able to do? (For example, share a page versus “Like” you on Facebook.)

18. SERP Display

Are the search engines displaying your pages correctly in the search engine results pages? Did you write proper meta descriptions, but they aren’t being used? Are the images you placed on your Places page being displayed in the SERP?

19. Search Engine Submission

It used to be that all new sites needed to submit to be crawled and indexed. Today, the search engines are more sophisticated, and will likely find and crawl the new site anyway, but it is helpful to include this in your launch checklist.

20. PPC Setup

Make sure if you are running any PPC campaigns that it’s set up and ready to go with the site launch. To avoid a lapse in service, if you have a Google PPC rep, you can set and pause all your campaigns to the new URLs prior to launch, and instead of the ads getting disapproved, your rep can approve them manually.

For the Network Administrator

These folks manage your web servers, the software that runs on them, and all the traffic components that keep your web traffic coming in. Their technical expertise on some of these tasks is like gold.

21. Monitoring

A site monitor checks pages regularly to make sure it is available for visitors. Basic monitors check if the page is working.

Important pages within the site should have enhanced monitors that test if a completed form behaves the way it should. Enhanced monitors are more expensive to setup and keep running so the page in question needs to justify the additional expense.

22. Backup System

Have you thought about what happens if the server goes down? Make sure the backup system is configured properly, and the recovery process has been tested so you know it works.

23. Traffic Loads

Think about what might happen to your site if it gets an influx of heavy traffic. There are load test software tools that allow you to simulate heavy loads. If you are expecting big crowds, this is a must.

24. Protected Pages

Does your site have pages that require user credentials to view? If so, do the credentials work? From the opposite angle, also check to see that the pages can’t be viewed without proper credentials. Make several attempts to get to those URLs without proper credentials to make sure the security is working as expected.

25. Secure Certificate (if Required)

If your site is ecommerce, or you’re using encrypted pages to protect visitor privacy on a form or elsewhere, you’ll want to check your certificate on launch day.

To do this, go to the encrypted section of your site. When the lock appears in the address bar, right click on it and read the message your visitors will read. It should have your name on it and state that it’s valid. If the lock doesn’t appear or the name isn’t right, let your provider know.

Summary

Hopefully you can see that everyone on a marketing and web team can be assigned tasks to test leading up to a site launch. This team approach does the best job for the diverse challenge of testing a website. If you can rally your team around these tests, no one person needs to bear the full weight of a site launch.

Author : Mark Knowles
Source : Click Here

 

 

Website Customization: What can we do?

Nowadays, in this trendy world, people get very uptight when they do not look entirely presentable. This would also be the case in web designing.

Every individual would definitely want their website to look good, if not, to the best they can. Here are a few things we could look out for when wanting to create a professional looking webpage.

Color Schemes and Themes.

When designing, always choose matching colors. An example of a matching color would be to have a dark background, with visible words and designs. With the dark theme, try not to mix too many bright colors into the design. What we should NEVER do, is to mix two very different colors, such as purple and yellow. Now, of course, it would depend on the purpose of the website, but those two colors are too striking for one who wants it to look more professional.

Themes must always suit the company or rather, the organization / etc. If the website was made to cater for a food company, it would be wise to stick to that particular category, rather than to revert to a different theme, such as machinery.

Fonts should be used in regard to the formality of the website. A simple sans-serif font would suffice in most cases. Exceptional cases such as design and art groups might want to use fanciful designs and fonts. Of course, that’s only if you know what you’re doing.

Finally, we must always try to think of our visitors, see the way they see. The resolutions and file sizes of the pictures must not be too large in terms of size. This is to allow maximum compatibility and cater our visitor’s needs.

So, planning is something we should always do, before attempting something.

More info to:  info@clickmavis.com

URL:  www.clickmavis.com

The Key to Better Websites [ Part B ] Design

Introduction

Importance of the latter :

Design, design, design. To put the wonders of a good design into perspective, imagine a when we are purchasing a T-Shirt. First of all, what do we look at? The design of the T-Shirt, of course. Well most people do, other than the material factor. But let’s assume the all other factors are constant, wouldn’t the design or looks, become the key aspect then?

2 ) Design

Putting oneself in another individual’s shoes, as usual. Here are another two situations.

Situation A : A website with good design and breathtaking graphics. (Good color schemes with matching theme), pictures. (Optimum resolutions and relevant) and proper fonts and word sizes.

Situation B : A website inversely equipped with hideous graphics and pictures in terms of resolution, quality and relevancy. (Red pictures with a bright green background) Fonts used were not matching albeit too fanciful. (Too small, artsy font-types)

Situation A, visitors that enter the website are immediately awestruck by the design and artwork. The well placed pictures and designs will somewhat symbolizes the positive nature of the company/website. As we know, most people DO judge by impression.

As for Situation B, the shabby environment due to severe lack of creativity and badly taken pictures wouldn’t exactly help in attracting visitors. Fonts that were hard to be read, let alone comprehended, and mismatching themes in terms of color, isn’t exactly welcoming, is it?

Analysis: Now, the main idea here is to always plan your websites, try to get other individuals for feedback and perspectives. Each mindset might differ, but at least you will get room for improvement. Don’t get me wrong, even a plain website with proper design would generate plenty of positive implications, but the key idea here is to at least maintain an impressionable website.

More info to:  info@clickmavis.com

URL:  www.clickmavis.com

The Key to Better Websites [A] Navigation

Introduction

Importance of the latter :

One of the primary implications of a well-organized / good website, is to keep your visitors in the website. A website is definitely created for a purpose, unless intended for personal use, which is the minority. For example, a portfolio website would want to be visited and it’s content viewed. For companies and internet businesses, your website certainly aims to provide product information, to make sales, or somewhat similar. However, most individuals undoubtly prefer visually captivating designs, so on and so forth. It is undeniable that this causes no harm, but one must put himself/herself in other people’s shoes, as to understand how a visitor to the website might think, do and react.

1 ) Navigation

As I said, a web designer has to learn how to think the way your visitors think.

Situation A : Website with good navigation ( 2-3 hyperlinks to target page ), well planned in terms of placement, and design.

Situation B : Website with poor navigation ( takes forever for the visitor to reach his/her target page ), hard-to-read navigation fonts and poor placement of the navigation buttons/bar.

In Situation A, a visitor will always want to be able to access his/her target page. For example, the individual comes across your website, and is interested in the product sold, but wants to find more information. He/she finds the navigation with no trouble, and enters the particular product information page.

As for Situation B, a visitor stumbles into the website, and would also like to find out more information about the product. Unfortunately, due to bad placement and fanciful font-types, the visitor takes forever, or even fails to find the navigation bar. Even when he/she does so, links to the product information are nowhere to be found, (example : home > about > products > product image > etc…[a few more clicks] > product information ).

Analysis : In both situations, wouldn’t a website with characteristics similar to the Situation A be more rewarding ergo better?

More info to:  info@clickmavis.com

URL:  www.clickmavis.com

Should I Create a Website? Do I Need One?

People always want to follow the latest thing, be it in fashion, sports, that kind of thing. Websites have become a necessity to almost everyone. Companies, businesses, individuals, even young adults have created personal websites with their respective purposes, be it for profit, or for entertainment.

What one must consider, however, before creating a website, are the factors in which must be put to thought before doing so, such as the cost, maintenance, use, web host and so forth.

Firstly, associating with the cost, we must always try to find an affordable host, not spending too much, nor too little. A cheap host does not exactly symbolize a credible reliability rating, but we must always look for value for money deals. Also, regarding the efficiency and server/web host reliability, there are many cases of web hosts not providing the service they had assured other people, some had even shut down and were nowhere to be seen. Keep this note in mind, as if you would like a long-lasting website, this would be the first thing to look for.

Next, would hiring a professional be affordable? Is it the best option? For simple websites, we could always pick up the coding, or even use programs, as it is relatively simple. However, when it comes to more complex coding, and when you want it to do a tad more than just providing information, hiring help in doing so would be the best way. Not only in terms of design, but security is also a key factor in assuring a quality website. If the website also acts as a portal for businesses, security would definitely be the issue here.

So, having considered the things to do before building a website, do we actually NEED one? If creating one would boost sales or promote positive implications to oneself, then by all means, go ahead and do what’s best. Yet again, planning is the key to success, in everything we do.

More info to:  info@clickmavis.com

URL:  www.clickmavis.com

Is It Easy to Create our own Website? What is HTML?

Creating a website is not so much a feat, if we compare it to the education of other technical skills. Most people tend to give up and pack their bags as soon as they hear the word “programming” and “technical”. They think it`s too much of a hassle to actually learn a whole computer “language”. HTML, the most basic computer language in building websites, is actually pretty simple to understand, as long as we have the interest in learning new things.

What is HTML?

HTML is the acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. For learning purposes, just think of it as a language that the computer understands. For example, as humans, we were taught different languages; i.e. HTML as a language, is mostly and specifically used to create a website. The web browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, will then decipher and interpret the code or rather, language(HTML), and display it in a way we can understand it, just like in a basic webpage.

Coding.

Coding the HTML language might be a bit tough for some people, so we can actually purchase programmes, such as Macromedia Dreamweaver, or even Microsoft Frontpage. These programmes are solely created to help individuals in designing professional webpages/websites.

Furthermore, one could also gain access to online web-builders, website builders that are inbuilt and can be directly controlled from the net. There are many different and specific builders online.

Books and magazines contain guides that can help in offering tutorials and ways to put up our own websites. Even online tutorials are credible, as in the modern world, information technology is the best and most cost efficient way in retaining knowledge, especially in this particular field.

So, you could start and build one right away. If you enjoy coding, it might even become a favourable past-time.

More info to:  info@clickmavis.com

URL:  www.clickmavis.com

Why You Should Use Graphic Templates

When it comes to graphics, most Internet marketers shy away from using graphic templates whether it’s eBook covers, website layouts or promotional banners because they firmly believe that by using graphic templates, they are tarnishing their own business. They want to own a unique identity and hence will always find a professional graphic designer to do the job. Well, you’re in for a big surprise!

When you purchase a graphic template, you will be able to customize it to an extent or even build a totally new design based on it! What’s the point of using the template then, you say? Well, it serves as a source of inspiration and ideas for a totally new design. You can’t derive anything from a blank canvas, right?

On top of that, you are actually saving a lot of precious time that you can otherwise spend on more important matters like developing new products or market your products. When you buy a pre-made template, you only need to edit a thing or two to give it an identity of your own, and that gives you more time and flexibility to work on other stuff.

Okay, let’s say you argue that hiring a designer to do the job is equally fast. That may be true but don’t forget, hiring a professional designer to do a custom design for you will cost you a lot of money. Unless you need a totally unique identity that you are aiming to establish firmly in your niche market, you don’t need to get a designer to design it for you.

Not all graphic templates are suitable, so you have to be careful when choosing one. Consider quality over the price, and you’re on your way to creating a positive image for your business while saving more time for more productive chores!

To More info:  info@clickmavis.com

URL:  www.clickmavis.com

Why Hire A Designer?

A lot of online business owners start with no money. They have to do everything themselves — the preparation of a product, the development of a marketing strategy, the actual building of a website to cater to their product’s marketing needs. As their business expands over time, they will find that their simple “homemade” site might not be enough to cover everything, and they will have to take a day or two away to simply dedicate that to the website expansion.

Sounds familiar? Chances are, you’re someone who started everything with no money too, so you’re pretty skeptical when it comes to giving away your money in exchange for something that you could have done yourself. However, there is a lot more to hiring a designer than just finishing up a job that you don’t want to do.

When you hire a web designer to do your job for you, you are doing more than just handing over the “dirty job” to someone else. In fact, by paying a little money, you can let the designer worry about the little annoyances that always evade the main picture and only come haunting when you’re halfway through the job. That way, you will be more focused and have more time to spend on your actual business strategy.

On the other hand, the designers you hire are professionals so they are good at what they do. By outsourcing your web design jobs to them, you won’t have to worry when problems surface because you can always get them to fix it for you. Again, they will be able to pin point the problem and fix it faster than you probably will be able to.

Also, the work you pay for will turn out more professional than what you can achieve because the designers have been doing it longer than you have. After all, they do it for a living so they have to be good!

So, remember to not just work your business, but grow your business too!

More  info to:  info@clickmavis.com.com

URL:  www.clickmavis.com

When Is the Right Time to Redesign?

If you run a website, chances are you often wonder whether it is the right time to do a total redesign of the layout of your website. Here are some points to consider:

Are you thinking of a redesign just for the sake of it? If you answered yes to that question, it is not yet the right time to do a redesign. Remember, a design serves a specific purpose. If you are not sure whether to do an overhaul of your site, keep in mind that your current design might have a specific purpose that you might not know about. You will lose that function if you do a redesign.

On the other hand, if your website has had the same website design since 1990, perhaps it is high time to do a redesign. The last thing you would ever want to happen to your site is when visitors leave your site without taking a look at your content just because the design is old fashioned. If this is your case, here are some points to ponder before doing a redesign.

Redesigning your website is like performing plastic surgery on it. Your website loses its current identity (for the better or worse) and your regular visitors might not recognize your new design at first glance. You risk losing them just because they thought they landed on the wrong page. Hence, it is very important that you retain a characteristic feature from your old layout. Perhaps it is the logo of your site; perhaps it is the same text style for the title for your site.

To play it safe, put a poll on your site to let your visitors do the talking. If they think it is necessary for the website to have a fresh look, give it to them!

For More Info:  info@cliclmavis.com

URL:  www.clickmavis.com

Web Design Elements You Should Avoid Having on Your Site

As a web designer, you should design your websites to give your visitors the greatest ease of use, the best impression and most important of all a welcoming experience. It doesn’t matter if you had the greatest product in the whole world — if your website is poorly done you won’t be able to sell even one copy of it because visitors will be driven off your website by the lousy design.

When I’m talking about a “good design”, I’m not only talking about a good graphical design. A professional web design will be able to point out that there are many components which contribute to a good website design — accessibility design, interface or layout design, user experience design and of course the most straightforward, which is graphic design.

Hence, I have highlighted some features of the worst web designs I’ve come across. Hopefully, you will be able to compare that against your own site as a checklist and if anything on your site fits the criteria, you should know it’s high time to take serious action!

1) Background music

Unless you are running a site which promotes a band, a CD or anything related to music, I would really advise you to stay away from putting looping background music onto your site. It might sound pleasant to you at first, but imagine if you ran a big site with hundreds of pages and everytime a visitor browses to another page on your site, the background music starts playing again. If I were your visitor, I’d just turn off my speakers or leave your site. Moreover, they just add to the visitors burden when viewing your site — users on dial up connections will have to wait longer just to view your site as it is meant to be viewed.

2) Extra large/small text size

As I said, there is more to web design than purely graphics — user accessibility is one big part of it too! You should design the text on your site to be legible and reasonably sized to enable your visitors to read it without straining their eyes. No matter how good the content of your website or your sales copy is, if it’s illegible you won’t be selling anything!

3) Popup windows

Popup windows are so blatantly used to display advertisements that in my mind, 90% of popup windows are not worth my attention so I just close them on instinct every time each one manages to pass through my popup blocker (yes, I do have one like many users out there!) and, well, pops up on my screen. Imagine if you had a very important message to convey and you put it in a popup window that gets killed most of the time it appears on a visitor’s screen. Your website loses its function immediately!

In concluding this article, let me remind you that as a webmaster your job is to make sure your website does what it’s meant to do effectively. Don’t let some minor mistakes stop your site from functioning optimally!

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