Some of the more important things include:
The most common analytics tool is Google Analytics. At the basic level, it is recommended that the following are set up:
These are permanent redirects and are used to automatically redirect visitors from the original URL to a new destination URL. Any URLs that were on the previous site that no longer exist should be 301 redirected to the equivalent URL on the new site. These redirects inform the search engines that the old URL has permanently moved to the new URL.This helps to ensure that authority gained for those existing pages is passed to the equivalent page on the new site and prevents users from seeing 404 (page not found) errors. Over time, the search engines should start indexing the new URLs instead of the old URLs.
These are the URLs of the best representative page from a group of duplicate pages and is, therefore, the one that you want to be indexed by search engines. All pages should have a canonical URL even if this is the same as the page URL.
Check all content pages on the site to ensure they have unique meta data (title, meta description) that is written with SEO in mind. Specialist SEO software can be used to report on this and identify issues.
Open Graph data should also be included in the page source to identify which elements of the page you want to show when a page is shared on social media.
Ensure on page content has been optimised for the user and therefore SEO. Every page should have a unique H1 containing the key term the page is targeting. Check each page follows web content principles ensuring it:
There are usually two types of sitemap used on a website; an XML formatted sitemap and a user sitemap.
This should be automatically generated by your content management system (CMS). It should contain all indexable content in a structured hierarchy. It allows search engines to find all content on the site, allowing it to be crawled and indexed.
This is a useful addition to a site as it provides a user-friendly index of pages on a website. This is often used as a means of navigating a website by visually impaired users who can quickly tab through each link.
Test key pages and complete user journeys and main interaction points across all the major browsers as well as devices. Whilst it’s impossible to test every single device that’s out there, testing should be completed on as many real devices as possible rather than emulators to get the true user experience. Use Analytics data to see what devices/Operating Systems/browsers are the most commonly used amongst current website visitors to help narrow this down.
There are a number of browser plugins that allow various accessibility requirements to be tested. Things to check include:
In the context of a website, the UI is the visual elements on a site and how the user interacts with them. The UX can be summarised as the overall experience a user has while using a website to complete their intended actions.
A fundamental principle of UX is ‘don’t make me think’. Can the target audience interact with the various elements in an efficient, obvious way?
Usability testing, with users from the target audience, is a very useful process to undertake before launching a new site to identify where users struggle and how their journeys can be improved.
This is a very useful process to undertake once a site has been built and all content is in place, immediately prior to launch. Ask users, ideally from your target demographic or even a few of your existing customers that you have a good relationship with, to test the new site and give honest feedback. Sometimes those working too closely with a site don’t always spot potential issues, particularly usability issues because we know how it does work rather than sometimes how it should work.
It is good practice to have customised 404 (page not found) and 500 (server error) pages so anyone who ends up on these pages can be signposted to an alternative page rather than leaving the site completely.
Ensure emails being sent out from the site have been configured with the correct settings, are branded and contain the required information; company name, registered address, company registration number.
Ensure a robots.txt file is in place and it has been updated to include any sections of the site that you do not want crawled/indexed by search engines. This should also be used to tell a search engine where to find the site's XML sitemap.
If any pages that you want indexed on the live site have noindex/nofollow settings, ensure these are removed at the time of launch.
Google search console is a very useful platform that allows you to measure site search performance and identify issues. Ensure this is set up, verified and is reporting on the site. Check this regularly after going live to identify any errors.
If you are launching a new website and would like a usability/accessibility audit completed or some expert advice, get in touch. We are able to offer:
Read our case study on how we helped Mimecast conduct multi-step usability testing.