Website Checklist: What You Need to Get Your Site Launched

I find checklists useful when I’m planning a new project on a big scale, and let’s face it: a lot of websites fall into the category of big projects!

I’ve compiled this checklist to assist anyone who’s planning to get a website for their business or professional activities. It helps to have the steps clearly outlined, because not every stage is necessarily an obvious one. My last design checklist proved very helpful to many people, and I hope this one will be just as useful.

Web Host

Not the same as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) although some ISPs offer web hosting as an additional service. A web host will provide space on one of their servers to house your website. If your site is especially large or likely to draw high volumes of traffic the web host can often provide a virtual private server at an additional cost.

Domain name (DNS)

Your web address e.g. No one owns a domain for life; they can be purchased year by year (or in a block of several years, which can be cheaper). If you don’t renew your domain, you’ll lose access to it until you purchase it again. For example, I’m not the first person to have owned and I was fortunate that it became available just as I was seeking a domain for my website! It’s common to buy a domain through a web host or specialist domain reseller.

Target audience

The internet is a medium for communication; to get the best out of your website, you’ll need a very clear understanding of who you want to communicate with online. It also helps to find out what your target audience wants: information, problem-solving, entertainment, broader shopping choices? This is an excellent place to start when working on your website strategy, and is very helpful with the next section on your website checklist:

A purpose for getting on the web

What functions will your website serve for you or your business? A site which is used as an additional marketing tool and point of contact has fewer requirements for setup than, for example, an e-commerce site, web forum or online gallery. Make a list of all the things you want your site to do and provide. It’s important to do this very early on, before any work gets started.

A budget

You should not expect to pay less than four figures for a quality website. Be prepared to do some research into web design and how much it costs.


Text, images, logo: have these ready to go before your designer starts work, and you’ll have a very smooth-running process. It can help to start by considering what your target audience will be looking for on your site. This will help you decide what pages your website will need, and what content will be necessary to fill those pages.

Content Management System (CMS)

Years ago it was necessary to pay someone or train someone in the coding skills required to update information on your website. Content Management Systems now allow people to update their own sites without any specialist training. The most popular CMS platforms are open-source (i.e. they can be used and modified free of charge). WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are examples of these. Expression Engine is another highly regarded CMS but for most users it’s only available for a fee. Alternatively, some web design/development companies create their own CMS exclusively for their clients’ use.


A theme sets a distinctive look, structure for the chosen CMS for your site. A theme is almost always an off-the-shelf product: every site which uses the same theme will receive the same look and structure, which they can keep as is, or choose to have customised by a designer.

Web design

Customises the look, structure and some of your website’s functions. A good web designer can work with your chosen theme to create a look for your site which is unique and perfectly suited to your professional or business needs. You’ll also lose the generic feel of your theme’s original design if you use a designer to customise your site.

Web development

Customises your website’s functions to an advanced level. Many common web functions (e.g. calendars, image galleries, slideshows, tabbed navigation) can be provided by your chosen theme, plugins designed for your CMS, or via your web designer. If you need unique or proprietary functions on your site, you should get these custom-coded by a web developer.

Other Useful Considerations

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

A good web designer will optimise your site for SEO, but the work doesn’t stop there. Regular updates with new content, inbound links and calls to action to encourage visitors to explore your site in greater depth than just the page they land on: these are the fundamentals for effective SEO. Some people choose to bring a marketing professional on board to help boost their SEO.

Social media

Setting up a Facebook page, a twitter account and other relevant social media can draw visitors to your site, so long as you are prepared to invest the time into using social media regularly and engage with your visitors properly.

Offline marketing

Update your printed promotional and corporate materials to include your web address: these include business cards, stationery, signage, advertising and anything else which bears your logo.

Updating your browser

If you’ve been using the same version of your web browser for a few years, it’s a good idea to update it now. This is especially the case if you’re using Internet Explorer version 6 or 7, any version of Netscape, or any other browser which is at least five years old. Updating your browser won’t make a difference to your new website, but it means you’ll get to view all of the work in the conditions for which it’s best optimised.


  • Wardell

    October 27, 2009 at 6:26 am

    Great list, although I would put purpose for getting on the web at the top.

  • Michael

    October 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Wow – lots of elements to consider. Thanks for posting this. I agree with Wardell – the purpose for getting on the web should be the number one thing.

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  • Frog

    October 28, 2009 at 5:02 am

    How about a USP? A unique selling point, a reason why people will come to your site and not your competitors. Nice list 🙂
    .-= Frog´s last blog ..Free Icon Sets For Websites and Applications =-.

  • Brandon Cox

    October 28, 2009 at 5:16 am

    This is the kind of checklist I’m going to bookmark and pass along to friends – thanks for putting it together, it’s a great guide to getting started.
    .-= Brandon Cox´s last blog ..Blogging Is Best When It’s Personal =-.

  • Danielle York

    October 28, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Yeap… every entrepreneur considering launching a web site to maximize their profits should seriously consider this. I’m also gonna bookmark this and refer anyone i know who’s ready to embark on that journey.

    -Danielle York

  • Rick Falls

    October 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Nice job of laying it all out to be seen efficiently and effectively.

    I’m bookmarking you to pass on to many others.



  • BebopDesigner

    October 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Brilliant post! What a perfect way to explain clients the importance of having everything crystal clear before going online.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    November 15, 2009 at 7:46 pm

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  • Website Checklist: What You Need to Get Your Site Launched » Niklas Aman’s blog

    November 16, 2009 at 4:15 am

    […] nice and useful post from Tracy Grady, Website Checklist: What You Need to Get Your Site Launched. […]

  • Rob Cubbon

    November 29, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Very good checklist. Always good to consider a CMS before starting a website. In my experience some clients don’t even think they want a CMS but are really grateful once they have one.
    .-= Rob Cubbon´s last blog ..First thoughts on the 4 Hour Workweek =-.

  • Keith Davis

    January 2, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Hi Tracey
    Saw your comment on “Pro blog design” and thought I’d take a look at your site – impressive!

    You mention “Content Management System (CMS)” – don’t you think that wordpress is all you need as a CMS.

    I use a premium theme that is page based and looks just like a regular website but still allows me to add posts / articles.

    I’m no techie but I can still cope with the wordpress dashboard so it should be relatively easy to train a client to use it.

    My only concern with using wordpress as a CMS is….. how do you teach clients to optimise and upload images?
    Any thoughts?
    .-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..Ooh la la… =-.

  • Jenni

    January 21, 2010 at 10:14 am


    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the great work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.


  • Friday Links « The Fight Sequence

    January 22, 2010 at 8:38 am

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  • MarkFitz97

    October 13, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    For me, budget is the most integral part to web design. Without a solid budget the whole process will take on a “underdeveloped” tone. I had the pleasure of working with a phenomenal team who aided me in my web design and it turned out absolutely superb.

  • Rob

    January 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Your link above to ‘Expression Engine’ is broken. It doesn’t seem to want the ‘www’.
    Otherwise thanks for the useful info. 🙂

  • Tracey Grady

    February 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks Rob. I have fixed the link now.

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