Smashing Magazine just published an excellent article by Lee Munroe that lists ‘15 Essential Checks Before Publishing Your Website’.
Pre-launch checklists are crucial because they sometimes save you from making the silliest of mistakes. I myself maintain two such checklists when working on website projects:
The first is a general pre-launch checklist like the one Munroe is talking about. I customize that to include all the specific features and functionality of the site that I am working on. Indeed it starts to look a little like Dan Zambonini’s ‘Ultimate Website Launch Checklist’ that Munroe refers to at the end of his post.
The second is a gaps and deviations checklist. This is a list that gets created while I’m working on the site and it covers gaps or deviations that I noticed while working on the site but wasn’t able to address at the time.
A gap could, for example, be something I wanted to add to the site before the launch but wasn’t able to do before, say, showing the latest iteration to the client. Instead of trusting myself to remember this gap later on, I log it into the checklist. This could be something like: “Add image between paragraph 2 and 3 on About Us > Company History page”.
Deviations, meanwhile, include crucial and non-crucial items. Crucial items are those that will cause problems once the site has been launched. These include things like “Remove hardcoded URL to video file on home page” or “Remember to tell ISP about new domain redirect for web server”. I clear all of these items off the list before going through any other checklist. Non-crucial items are those that we can launch with but the editor, designer, or generally obsessive-compulsive person in me would like to fix before we do. A non-crucial deviation item could be something like: “Re-crop image on Contact Us > Branch Locations page to remove tree branch on right side”.
My gaps and deviations checklist is usually quite short and often I find that I’ve already fixed a lot of the things that are listed in it. But still, it’s a useful one to have; particularly if you’re as obsessive about everything being perfect at launch time as I am!