You’ve been slaving away building the perfect new version of your client’s website. You’re building it on a staging site of course or better yet on your local machine. If it’s on WPEngine’s staging version, all you have to do to is go back to the live site, select the staging menu and select “Deploy site from STAGING to LIVE”.  Right? That’s it? Not so fast. Here’s an explanation of why you might want to slow down or skip to the WordPress Relaunch Checklist.

While you’ve been building that wonderful new website on Staging, business may have continued on the live site. Consider some of what may have been happening on LIVE while you’re working on staging:

  • Have any new users registered? If so, you’ll need to copy the database tables for the users from LIVE to Staging without overwriting other changes you’ve made on Staging before deploying Staging to LIVE.
  • Have users changed their password or other user details? Same as above.
  • Have new entries been submitted via contact or other forms? In the example of using Gravity Forms, you’ll want to copy the database tables from LIVE to Staging but if you have new forms, you can’t copy them all without potentially losing your new forms.
  • Have your users been making changes on the live site to posts and or pages? This can get into the nitty gritty of looking at post and page edit dates. Hopefully you’ve told your users to notify to you of any changes made on live so they are not lost.

With all this in mind, we need a more comprehensive strategy for Launching the LIVE website.  This list assumes that you’ve made major changes to the site, it’s functionality and perhaps some plugin changes as well.  If it’s just something simple like CSS changes you may be better off just copying over your style.css file.

WordPress Relaunch Checklist

  • Make sure both the Staging and LIVE version of the website are running same version of WordPress and their plugins
  • Make backups of Staging and Live.  Sounds silly right.  And you may be thinking “Hey, WPEngine makes daily backup automatically so I’m covered.” That would be a mistake. Chances are that you’ve made some changes so it’s better to have a fresh back named with something that will signify it’s your backup before the migration.
  • If there are any new users, sync users from LIVE to Staging.
  • Sync any new post or page changes from LIVE to Staging.
  • Setup and test redirects for any pages or posts you’ve removed.
  • Cross-browser and device testing.
  • Test Google structured data
  • Setup or update Facebook images for new important new pages and posts and test them with Facebook’s sharing debugger.
  • Test new pages and posts for Twitter cards with their validator
  • Set any new forms to properly notify client
  • Pause paid media campaigns during launch
  • Is copyright date setup to automatically update?

And then after you’ve launched the new site version…

Post WordPress Restart Checklist

  • Make sure you’re not blocking search engines
  • Adjust your cache settings and flush your cache.
  • Check that Google Analytics and/or Tag Manager are operating correcting.  Any new goals or events to configure?
  • Resubmit your sitemaps to Google and Bing Webmaster tools
  • Search for any dev site addresses not found/replaced by the scripts
  • Run a link checker through the site.
  • Test your site speed.
  • Restart any paid media campaigns.

What’s missing from this list?

Checklist

Checklist Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters from https://unsplash.com/@snapshot_factory