Table of Contents

When setting up a site, there are several areas you need to address:

  • Content
  • Design
  • Functionality
  • SEO
  • Sitemaps
  • Marketing
  • Legal
  • Migration
  • Launch prep
  • Backup and security
  • Launch
  • Organization

You can use the following information to ensure you set everything up properly.


  • Replace Placeholder Content – Check our site for placeholder text (such as Lorem ipsum) and make sure the actual, approved content is in place.
  • Proofread/Edit – Double-check all text on the site for mistakes and then check again.
  • Format Written Content – Layout is important to make our site attractive and easy to consume. Avoid big blocks of text, use paragraphs, and don’t forget about headings (headings are formatted globally).
  • Check for Placeholder Images – Remove any stand-in visuals and replace them with actual images/screenshots.
  • Check Videos & Audio Files – Make sure the right files are in the right place and that they are working properly.
  • Check Page Links – Check for broken links, make sure internal links point where they’re supposed to be, and ensure external links open in a new tab.
  • Check Downloadable Files – If we have downloadable files, proofread them, check the link, and make sure they can be downloaded.
  • Set Up an Archive/Search Results Page – Set up a custom archive page to make sure the search results page is formatted to match the site’s design.
  • Set Up a Template for Posts without Tags – Set up a custom template to display when a post either doesn’t have tags or is improperly tagged.
  • Set Up a 404 Error Page – Set up a custom 404 error page to make sure there is a page for those who get
    onto our site through a faulty link.
  • Create a Contact Us Page – Page visitors appreciate and look for a contact page, but we should carefully consider how we approach this. We can use plugins like Jetpack, Contact Form 7, and Fast Secure Contact Form to set up an easy way for users to communicate with us if we want.
  • Check Any Link Redirects – We should work with Marketing on this. If there’s a need for any redirections (such as to the Developers or Marketing site), make sure they are set up correctly. Redirection is a great tool for this.
  • Prepare Content for Launch – To help our website start off on the right foot, it can make sense to prepare some pages to share via email and social networks upon launch.


  • Validate HTML Markup – To avoid incompatibilities, use tools (e.g., W3C’s Markup Validation Service) to check all pages of our site adheres to web standards.
  • Validate CSS – To avoid incompatibilities, use tools (e.g., W3C’s Markup Validation Service) to check all pages of our site adheres to web standards.
  • Preview in Major Browsers – To spot cross-browser compatibility problems, view our site in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge, and any legacy browser we want to support. Look especially at images and videos. An alternative is using a service like Browsershots.
  • Check Responsive Design – Mobile Devices – Having our site look good on mobile devices is a must. To ensure optimal user experience, we need to test our design on different gadgets (both phones and tablets) and platforms (Android, iOS). Elementor has a built-in tool to set up mobile design.
  • Use Google’s Mobile Testing Tool – Google offers a mobile testing tool with lots of helpful feedback. We can input our URL, and it will run a full analysis of our site.
  • Optimize / Compress Images – Reducing image size as much as possible (without compromising quality, of course) will improve page load time and thereby user experience and SEO. We have these built-in features running.
  • Add a Favicon – Add our favicon so it appears in browser tabs.
  • Link Header Image to Homepage – Make sure our company logo is present in the header and check that it links back to the homepage.


  • Test Drive Web Forms – Test any forms we have on our site (subscribe, contact, survey, etc.) to ensure they are submitting data correctly and that form emails arrive in the right place.
  • Confirm Messages & Redirects – Check to see if users get relevant help messages and are directed to the right place after submitting form data.
  • Review Autoresponders – If we have any sort of automatic emails in place, make sure they work correctly.
  • Check Site Speed – Shoot for a loading time below two seconds.
    Use a tool (e.g., Google Pagespeed Insights, GTMetrix, Pingdom) to see how quickly our site loads and what we can do to make it load faster.
  • Implement Accessibility Guidelines – Ensure we are following accessibility standards.


  • Install an SEO Plugin – We are using Yoast SEO.
  • Set Site Title & Tagline – Our SEO plugin takes care of our site’s title and tagline.
  • Configure SEO Page & Post Titles – All pages and posts on our site should have unique titles that include the keywords.
  • Implement Meta Descriptions – YoastSEO does a fine job of this for us. Create unique and expressive meta descriptions for all posts and pages that include keywords and are less than 156 characters long.
  • Set Up Permalinks – Make sure the permalink structure is set to our liking (Settings > Permalinks) and that each page URL contains its main keyword.
  • Optimize Images The WP-Optimize plugin has this as a built-in feature. If we need to modify the settings to increase site speed or decrease site size later, we can do it in the plugin’s settings. Check image file names, descriptions, and ALT tags for keyword inclusion and make sure each image is compressed for quick loading times.
  • Set Keywords – YoastSEO does a fine job of this for us.
    Each post and page should have a defined focus keyword.
  • Analyze Content – Not all tips are relevant to our type of site or content.
    Follow the content tips YoastSEO provides.
  • Create Sitemap WP Engine automatically sets up a sitemap for our site. Double-check Google’s criteria to ensure we aren’t using conflicting sitemaps. Optional: Use Yoast SEO and Google XML Sitemaps to set up a sitemap for search engines. Important: Wait until our site is ready to launch before submitting it.


An XML sitemap is a machine-readable list of our site’s content that helps search engines quickly and easily navigate through our content. In 2020, WordPress released WordPress 5.5, which came with a sitemap feature.

Access sitemaps

To access the sitemaps:

When you access the sitemap link, you’ll see a screen listing our sitemaps and the last date they were modified.

Note: You’ll notice the sitemaps were created by YoastSEO, since we configured sitemap creation in our YoastSEO plugin.

Configure YoastSEO to create sitemaps

To create an XML sitemap in WordPress using Yoast SEO, follow the steps on WPBeginner.

Help site sitemaps

This is a list of the Help site’s sitemaps:


Not sure we need to set up any of this, but if we do, we should connect with Marketing.

  • Implement Sign-ups / Notifications for Release Notes – Not sure if this is something we want to do through WordPress or not, but we need to figure out how to set this up once we move away from the Wiki.
  • Connect with Email Marketing Provider – If we include a form, make sure it also goes somewhere and that the email collection works properly. We can use MailChimp or another tool to accomplish this.


We may need to check with Security and Compliance on how to handle some of these items.

  • Acquire Required Licenses – In case we are using images, fonts, code, plugins, etc. that need licensing, take care that everything is in place and stated as needed.
  • Include a Copyright – Include a copyright statement or listing in the footer if necessary.
  • Provide a Privacy Policy We have a generic policy stored as a draft on the site in case we need it.
    An official privacy policy is always a good idea to create trust when collecting any sort of data (if we do on our site).
  • Implement Cookie Warning
    Check on the requirements for cookie warnings.
  • Look into BriteCore’s Security Audit Requirements
    We might have specific legal/compliance demands for anti-spam measures and should make sure our site adheres to them.


  • Acquire, Set Up, and Redirect Domain – Secure, configure, and redirect our domain:
  • Prepare Database – Create and optimize database tables.
  • Point Domain to New Directory – Have DevOps point the domain to WP Engine’s servers.
  • Check Site Display – Check to see if the site is displaying properly. Look for missing images and icons.
  • Test Links & Pages – Dive deeper into the site and check if links work correctly and point to the right addresses (the WP site, not the developer’s site). Make sure we have all of the content migrated from the Wiki and developers site.

Launch Prep

  • Renew Product Licenses – If our site is running commercial, third-party plugins or themes, it might be necessary to renew their licenses for the new domain. We renewed Elementor Pro on March 22, 2020. It’s on an annual subscription. On April 8, 2020, Katie signed us up for Sitelock through Bluehost. I’m not sure about the terms.
  • Activate Caching Solution We have WP Optimize installed, and it optimizes our data tables but we don’t use its caching solution. Since we are on a fully-managed server service with WP Engine, they provide a caching solution.
  • Set Up Google Analytics – Collecting usage data is important to track site performance and make informed decisions. We have Google Analytics by YoastSEO installed but wait to activate it once we’re ready to launch. If we activate it now, all of our work on the site will create inaccurate statistics.
  • Connect Google Webmaster Tools – Integrate the site with Google’s webmaster suite.
  • Clean Up Unnecessary Clutter – Delete old and unneeded files, templates, databases, subdomains, and any other remnants of the development process.

Backup & Security

  • Install an Anti-Spam Solution – If we have any sort of traffic, we will get spam on our site—a lot of it. Using a solution like Akismet or Antispam Bee will help weather the worst.
  • Implement Login Protection – Use proper usernames and passwords. We can use a plugin (e.g., Login Lockdown) to increase security if we need to.
  • Setup a Backup Solution – We have Updraft Plus set up to create a daily backup of our site and save it to Google Drive. However, it can’t back up to a Shared Drive, so it’s saving to my drive. We’re making copies and putting it in the team drive folder. Setting up a backup solution for both our site data and database is a mandatory pre-launch step.
  • Verify Backups – Create our first backup and verify that it is saved successfully in the specified location (Google Drive).
  • Update Admin Password – Set up a safe password and make sure to save it in a secure place like LastPass.


  • Disable “Discourage Search Engines” – Uncheck the box that says “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” in the WordPress dashboard (Settings > Reading) and in the YoastSEO plugin settings.
  • Submit Our Sitemap – Submit our sitemap to any search engine we care about ranking on.
  • Market the Site – Notify Marketing and so they can take care of their part of this. Tell everyone about the site. Send out an email blast to clients and partners and post our launch on the marketing site, in Slack, on the intranet site, and on social media.


  • Create & Compile Documentation – When we are ready for launch, Adam will create this in the Google Shared Drive and send Katie the link. For a successful handoff to another admin or teammate, put together all necessary

    • Login names and passwords
    • Hosting information
    • Database information
    • FTP credentials
    • Login information for other accounts (email marketing
      provider, social media, etc.)
    • Expiration dates of paid plugins
    • How-to guides for using the site
    • Debrief on next steps
  • Make Phil Owner of Hosting – Make sure to use Phil’s name and credit card for things related to the site (e.g., hosting).

Table of Contents