Special thanks to WPEngine for putting this awesome website launch list together.

Keep this link in a familiar place so you don’t get lost in the QA process. This list is exhaustive, and not every project requires every step. That decision will be up to you.

Step 1 – Before Going Live
Step Order Area Task Completed
1 1 Settings Verify all site pages and elements display properly on Chrome, Firefox, IE (multiple versions), Safari, Opera, Mobile Safari, Android, etc. Most importantly, test while logged out. Secondly, test all scenarios while logged in, both the front-end and the back-end. (do this again as the very last step)
1 1 Settings Verify favicon displays on IE (might need .ico version) and non-IE browsers
1 2 Communications Receive Client approval of site design concept, moving forward toward finalizing/publishing. As appropriate, initiate change orders (i.e. charge more for feature-creep)
1 2 Settings Take backup before proceeding to finalize
1 3 SEO Create needed categories and tags, including Description text for each
1 3 Settings Change default category from “Uncategorized” to something else (e.g. “News”)
1 3 SEO Confirm SEO plugin’s settings per tag and category
1 4 SEO Create archive-, tag-, and category-specific layouts/pages
1 5 Settings Change the author of all posts, pages, and CPTs to be authored by the Client’s User(s), not your own Administrator User
1 6 Themes Review items in the WordPress Theme Development Checklist
Step 2 – Going Live
Step Order Area Task Completed
2 1 Settings Run the WordPress Search and Replace script if needed (if moving from a test site with a different URL), and delete the script
2 1 Themes Theme / Child Theme named appropriately in wp-admin and FTP
2 1 Themes Delete unused themes, except a fallback like Twenty ____
2 1 Plugins Deactivate development plugins, like Action Map / CSS Map; testing code, scripts, and dummy content; and SSL testing plugins
2 2 Plugins Delete unnecessary plugins
2 2 Settings Delete unnecessary / inactive users, as appropriate
2 2 Settings Make sure all users have their profile information as desired — Name, Contact Info, Bio, etc.
2 3 Settings Test site Search functionality: obviously-relevant results (i.e. search not broken), not returning hidden posts/pages/content (if any), returning CPTs, etc. Consider implementing a better-than-WordPress solution
2 3 Settings Make sure all WordPress default posts, pages, and comments are trashed or permanently deleted
2 4 Settings Verify all Widgets are in the right place (and display logic, if applicable) and delete unnecessary Widgets from the Inactive Widgets area
2 4 Settings Verify General Settings are as desired (e.g. www or non-www, new user registration, Timezone, etc.)
2 4 Settings Verify Discussion, Media, and Permalink settings are as desired (e.g. closing comments after 14 days, setting image sizes, and having pretty permalinks). Re-save Permalinks if you didn’t make changes, just to make sure.
2 5 Settings Delete WordPress default links and link categories
2 5 Settings Enable Remote Publishing XML-RPC if Client wants to use the WordPress mobile app, IFTTT, or verify site on Gravatar profile
2 5 Settings Setup WPMU DEV Dashboard to hide branding and only be enabled for your Administrator User account, as desired
2 6 Settings Delete all unused logo, background, and other files from Media Manager via Dashboard and from Theme / Child Theme folder via FTP
2 6 Themes Verify the theme’s (not the server’s) 404 page works and is designed as desired
2 6 Settings Turn on WP_DEBUG and Deprecation Testing before publishing site for one final test. After resolving all errors, if any, turn off WP_DEBUG and Deprecation Testing plugin(s)
2 7 Themes Validate website (HTML/XHTML, CSS, broken links, feeds, etc.).
2 7 Themes Run site through page load testing, like Pingdom, GTmetrix, YSlow, Google PageSpeed Tools, and Google Webmaster Tools’ and Google Analytics’ Site Speed reports. Make improvements as necessary/desired
2 8 Themes Verify all enabled Post Formats have specific styling. If styling won’t be created, disable non-styled Post Formats.
2 8 Themes Verify Featured Images are properly configured for archive pages, single post views, and any sliders / widgets that include Featured Images (i.e. Post Thumbnails).
2 8 Themes Add code that reminds Client of the ideal Featured Image size(s).
2 9 Themes Make sure all images have captions and that they look good
2 9 Themes Make sure video embeds work as desired
2 9 Themes Verify print preview (i.e. print stylesheet) is as desired
2 10 Themes While logged out, use View Source on the front-end of the site for several pages, looking for theme and plugin scripts that are loaded unnecessarily. Rectify as appropriate.
2 10 Settings If site has an SSL certificate, force SSL login/admin and resolve insecurely-loaded assets. If no SSL, consider adding a secure login alternative like Facebook.
2 11 Communications Create/Update the Client’s Gravatar and make sure it’s set to the same email address as used in the Client’s User Profile. Complete Gravatar image, verified services, and other profile info. Create/Login to the Client’s WordPress.com account (to be connected to JetPack)
Step 3 – Finish Going Live
Step Order Area Task Completed
3 1 Settings Setup RSS feeds as desired. Verify all feeds that should be on are on and those that should be off are off. (e.g. all posts, all comments, comments per post, author, category, tag, CPT ones)
3 2 Communications Verify site Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy are displayed on-site and are approved by Client
3 3 SEO Create a robots.txt file
3 3 SEO Turn on WordPress’ “visible to search engines” setting
3 3 Settings Implement Analytics
3 3 SEO Verify site ownership with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.
3 3 SEO Verify sitemap is valid with Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
3 3 SEO Integrate with Facebook and Open Graph (OG) if not already part of your SEO plugin settings
3 4 Plugins Activate needed plugins that aren’t active yet, like Jetpack, activity monitor plugins, spam-blocking plugins, and Email Post Changes
3 4 Settings Add social sharing icons via Jetpack, Digg Digg, Floating Social, or other method
3 4 Settings Setup Comments Plus, Google Plus, and any other social integrations
3 4 Settings Setup Newsletter / MailChimp / Feedburner / Jetpack / other subscription manager settings and put sign up form on front-end
3 5 Settings Consider minifying your code. Enable caching, and CDN

42SettingsSetup syndication / auto-posting of new posts and CPTs to Client’s social media channels, as desired

Step 4 – Promoting the Site
Step Order Area Task Completed
4 1 Settings Setup Admin Help Content and Custom Dashboard Widget to include beneficial links: to your own blog(s), tutorial / how-to videos, wiki or knowledgebase or support chat, the WPMU DEV Manual, the WordPress Codex (or a select few pages), podcast, contact information, Terms and Conditions, “tell others about us” affiliate reward (setup their PayPal email address in their User Profile). Include information about possible upgrades and reminding Client of your other services
4 1 Settings Set Dashboard Feeds settings with your own blog’s feed
4 3 Communications Write a blog post about the new site design, providing yourself a backlink, and tell Client they have their first blog post. Invite them to edit as desired
4 3 Communications Promote Client’s site on their social media channels
4 3 Communications Add Client’s site to your own site’s Portfolio page
4 4 Communications Promote Client’s site on your own social media channels
4 5 Communications Create a screencast video (or collection of screenshots) to walk Client through all the features of their new site (maybe 2 videos if also wanting to demo the back-end). Publish to YouTube as a Private video (or Public if you have Client’s permission) and email to Client, requesting feedback
4 6 SEO Submit site to dmoz open directory and industry-specific site directories
4 7 Communications Provide an email signature for Client, including link to their site
4 8 Settings Finalize Pop-Overs, Social Marketing and Pay with a Like giveaways, Floating Social, lead captures, squeeze pages, etc. as needed
4 9 SEO Make sure your Update Services are as desired (for notifying sites of new posts)
4 10 Communications Subscribe to the site’s feed(s) in your own RSS reader, if you don’t have any other way to keep track of the site’s posting activity
4 11 SEO Update Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Google Maps pages with current domain name and other contact information.
Step 5 – Finishing Up
Step Order Area Task Completed
5 1 Settings Implement a tag-picker metabox (to avoid Client creating multiple variations of the same effective tags)
5 1 Settings Finalize Ultimate Branding settings
5 1 Settings Finalize Easy Blogging settings
5 1 SEO Finalize Infinite SEO or other SEO plugin’s settings
5 2 Themes Consider disabling some of the Write Panel features, as appropriate
5 2 Settings Login as each user to verify they have proper viewing/editing permissions and all Dashboard meta boxes, Post Editor meta boxes, and Admin Bar links are displayed as desired, including in the proper order. Ideally, there should be no dead links (“You do not have sufficient permissions to access this page.”)
5 2 Settings Make sure WordPress default email address is as desired (yours or Client’s email address?)
5 2 Settings Verify all form submission notifications are sent to Client’s email, not yours
5 2 Settings Add code to customize WordPress’ send-from email address
5 2 Settings Verify robots.txt and/or SEO plugin’s settings are working as desired by checking webmaster tools indexation
5 2 Settings Verify all site pages and elements display properly on Chrome, Firefox, IE (multiple versions), Safari, Opera, Mobile Safari, Android, etc. Most importantly, test while logged out. Sec ondly, test all scenarios while logged in, both the front-end and the back-end. (same task as in the beginning)
5 3 Settings Add site to ManageWP, WP Remote, or an alternative, if desired and not already done
5 3 Settings Run a database cleanup to remove old revisions (proceed with caution, consider backing up database first)
5 4 Settings Save a .zip backup of the entire site (files and database) to your local computer as proof of what you delivered to the Client on the day of going live.
5 5 Setup Implement auto-backup schedule
5 6 Communications Get your Client started on the right writing path by teaching them how to follow their own Blog Post Writing Checklist
5 6 Communications Consider suggesting Client setup Google Alerts and/or Yahoo Alerts
5 6 Communications Finalize your contract and get Client signature that the work has been completed satisfactorily. Get final payment (maybe before providing login credentials). Get web hosting payment if applicable.
5 7 Communications Provide Client with login, FTP, database, and third-party management utility credentials, as appropriate
5 7 Communications Setup WordPress mobile app and/or other remote publishing tool for Client

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