So you’re ready to put your WordPress website on the World Wide Web?
Before you go live, here’s a checklist of things you should go through to ensure a smooth and secure experience as a WP admin.
1. Backup Solution
Check to see if your site has a backup plugin installed (for the site and its database) and see that you backup as frequently as you plan on updating/maintaining the content and every bit of code and functionality on your website.
This is to ensure you have the most recent backup available in case something gets messed up or your website gets hacked. A backup file will let you restore your website back to the last functioning state.
You can use free or premium solutions like BackupBuddy, Updraftplus, Vaultpress, etc. See if your plugin has additional features for easy restoration.
2. Security Solution
Make sure you secure your admin area, login, and the entire website in general from malicious code and activities. The three most important plugins for security are:
This will block hackers and bots from gaining access through your login points.
This will add an additional security layer to your login (like phone number/email) to secure your login and make hacking via bots impossible.
This is a complete security solution that will scan your website back-end (server side code) for infections and comes with blocking, login, firewall, monitoring, and caching features.
Whatever you do, do not take security lightly.
3. Check broken links
404 error pages mean bad user experience: it makes visitors think your site is broken, even though it was probably a URL fault.
Nonetheless, you shouldn’t assume anything. It could still be your fault. Install and use plugins like Broken Link Checker to find out all broken links and deal with them as you please (redirects, removal, etc.).
I personally think it’s better to create a custom 404 page and apologize for honest mistake. You can make your own, but make sure to add links (to other areas of your site) and ask for feedback.
4. Check Forms
When you are asking your users for information, make sure you at least keep the forms error-free.
If you plan on using complete resets (or page refresh), forget leads. Design with and check your email, contact, comment, subscription, and any other forms for inline validation and responsive form fields.
You should also keep them minimum length, but I am sure you knew that.
5. Check Media
If your website is heavy on multimedia content, it is always good to add alternate text (for images, audio) and transcripts (for videos) to make sure that these content pieces are accessible to physically disabled visitors with an added bonus of better SEO.
Check that you compressed and optimized the media content and test them on different browsers and devices to make sure they are being rendered properly.
6. Check Mail
Whether you are using plugins or manually configured your PHP scripts to send mail (via wp_mail), you are likely to have some problems with it. A lot of people do.
Check that your mail is being sent (newsletters, registration, forget password, etc.) and ensure that it is being sent to the right folder (and not being registered as spam by mail providers). Use plugins like WP Mail SMTP, Mandrill, etc. that allow you to reconfigure mail settings quickly and easily.
7. Test Social Integration
After you have selected an awesome plugin to encourage social sharing of your content, you should check to see if they are working properly. Any features like login, like, comment, etc. should work perfectly. And if you have share counters on display, check to see that they are updating on time (usually 1-2 hours for total shares).
8. Test performance and responsiveness
This may be tedious and the results could give you headache, but it’s ultimately very rewarding.
To test performance, use tools like Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insight that will measure your site’s page load times and score you on result. They also give suggestions to improve your front-end and back-end code to maximize performance. Caching plugins like WP super cache and WP total cache always help too.
To test responsiveness, use tools like Screenfly that will emulate more than a dozen different viewports that you can test your pages’ media queries on.
9. Install Analytics
Every growing business needs insight.
Google Analytics is a well known and used tool to collect and use data to gain statistical insights on numbers of visitors per page, on site, average time spent, popular pages, and more.
This gives you numerical evidences on what’s working on your site and what’s not so you can improve and grow.
10. Install SEO solution
WordPress is well known for being a good CMS for search engine based online marketing. Take care of permalinks structure and make sure you follow schema.org markup.
You should also install Yoast SEO and configure it properly (from meta tags, alt text, permalinks, to XML sitemaps generation, breadcrumbs, and RSS optimization) to maximize your visibility and get better ranking on search results pages.
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