Launching a new eCommerce website can be a daunting task, especially if you haven't done one before. That's why it's important to come into it well prepared!
Whilst all our eCommerce websites are built on Magento, this checklist isn't Magento specific and can certainly be used as a template for any eCommerce website launch.
Pick a Project Management tool
If you aren't already using a project management tool, I would highly recommend you start using one for this crucial phase of your project. It will really help you keep focus on what's important and what needs to be done in order to launch your new webstore.
As discussed in a previous blog post, Asana is our Project Management tool of choice, so the template I've put together is for Asana. The .csv template can be downloaded at the end of this article, so make sure you keep on reading.
For us, the pre-launch phase of the eCommerce web build starts once all the development work has been completed (and signed-off), the content has been uploaded and the store configured.
Typically, we would allow 3-4 days to complete the pre-launch tasks. We like to start on a Monday so that on Thursday we are ready to launch the site (we never do a new site launch on a Friday!).
The pre-launch tasks don't necessarily have to be completed in any given order, though some of them have dependencies. For the sake of keeping things simple, I'm not going to outline each dependency – it should be straight forward enough for you to figure this out for yourself.
- Set up 301 redirects - if you have an existing site, it's extremely important that the old URLs are redirects to a relevant page on the new site as otherwise this could have a catastrophic impact on your SEO!
- Check URLs are structured as intended - Ensure you have nice clean url paths i.e www.example.com/product-a.html and not www.example.com/123343_fjakdfr.html
- Check for existing .htaccess file - If a previous site existed, check the .htaccess file for historical URL redirects
- INDEX, FOLLOW - Ensure all pages are set to INDEX, FOLLOW. In Magento you can control this setting by going to Stores > General > Design > Default Robots
- H1, H2, H3 - Ensure the headings are used correctly site wide. Read more about web semantics here.
- Check dynamic meta tags - Ensure that titles and description are present and optimised
If you want to find out more about Magento SEO, our friend, Paul Rogers, has written a very comprehensive blog post on this subject.
ANALYTICS, MONITORING, SITEMAPS & ROBOTS.TXT
- Google Analytics set up - Check that GA is set up and tracking as expected. Check the source code to ensure the correct ID is there! And ensure it's linked to Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Analytics eCommerce set up - Check that eCommerce tracking is configured accordingly!
- Create XML Sitemap - In Magento 2 this is done by going to Stores > Catalog > XML Sitemap and ensure it's added to Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Webmaster Tools set up - Set up and configure
- Google Tag Manager - If you are planning on using GTM, ensure it's set up and configured correctly
- Create Robots.txt file - make sure if contains sitemap.xml location(s) and that it's added to root folder of your website
- Set up Pingdom & New Relic - If you're planning on using Pingdom or any other monitoring tool, ensure they are set up correctly
GENERAL PRE-LAUNCH TASKS
- Set up Customer Services email - Make sure the Contact Us form and Sales emails are being sent to the correct recipient i.e email@example.com
- Magento caching - ensure that the caching solution you're using is enabled and is working as expected
- Set up Google shopping feed - Set up and ensure it's working as expected
- Set up Cron schedule - Ensure that your cron schedule is enabled and running. Get your sys-admin to check this for you
- Check third party modules configuration - Ensure that all your third party modules are using valid licence keys for your production environment
- Favicon - ensure the website has a favicon
- HTML W3C - ensure validation is passed (or at least major issues have been resolved)
- CSS W3C - ensure validation is passed (or at least major issues have been resolved)
- 404 page - ensure your 404 page is set up and working as expected
- Social Share - If you're using Social Sharing across the site, test the links to ensure they are working
- Email Marketing - Ensure Email subscriptions are being captured (in the Magento database or directly into your ESP)
- Product Placeholder - Ensure the default Magento placeholder is replaced by your own branded image.
- Store Info update - Ensure the store name, copyright message, content in footer, store phone number and address, are all correct.
- Ensure Payment Methods are live - Ensure the payment methods being used (i.e Braintree, SagePay, PayPal) are all set up with live credentials and the sandbox mode is swapped to live mode.
- Place test order - to ensure that the website is transactional
- Test voucher / coupons - if you're launching your website with a promotion, ensure the relevant coupons or shopping cart rules are working as expected
- Test 'pay with stored credit card' - if applicable, ensure the 'stored credit card' option appears as the default payment option at checkout
- Test Shipping Rules - ensure that all the shipping rules are set up as expected
- Test Tax Rates - ensure your tax rates and rules are set up as expected
- Test ERP integration - If your eCommerce website is integrated with an ERP system, ensure everything is working as expected
- Test transactional emails - Ensure the 'New order', 'Shipment', 'Invoice (if applicable)', 'Refund' 'Create a new customer account', 'Reset your password', 'Share wishlist', 'Send to friend' templaes are triggered when expected and that they are styled and have the appropriate content
CUSTOMER ACCOUNT TESTING
- Test customer account creation & login process - ensure you can create a new account and ensure you can login to an existing account
- Test Wish list functionality - ensure you can add a product to your wish list. Test that you can share your whist list by email
- Test Password reset - Ensure as a customer that you can reset your account password
- Test Account Dashboard features - Ensure all the key features in the customer account dashboard are working as expected i.e previous orders are being displayed, etc
- Test RMA features - If you are planning on offering returns, test the returns management process
PERFORMANCE & SECURITY
- SSL - Set up SSL certificate and then test that the whole site is indeed running on SSL
- Check - that the www or non-www resolve to the correct version if swapped