chapter 11

Launch Checklist | Things to Do Before the Site Goes Live

Preparing to launch a new site is typically the most exciting part of a project but it can also be the most stressful. It took a while to really get a good feel for all the potential things that could go wrong during a launch and try to anticipate them ahead of time. After working on close to 100 Shopify stores over the past few years, I’ve come up with a pretty good launch checklist that I use towards the end of each project.

I work with a mix of clients. Some are brand new to Shopify and are selling something for the first time, and others have existing stores that just want an updated theme. Depending on the situation, I have slightly different product launch checklists.

Here’s what I try to do before and right after I launch a new site. It doesn’t always follow the same pattern, but it’s a decent checklist of some of the more common things I try to take care of before a launch.

First off, has the primary domain already been added to the site? If not, I need to make sure my client sends over their registrar info so I can easily login when the time is right and add the CNAME and A Records. I always try to make sure this happens a week before the launch date of the site because for some reason or another, registrar logins always seem to be forgotten.

Next, it’s time to QA the site to make sure that all the media queries are working and the site looks good on an iPad and iPhone. It’s one of the first things that a client notices so might as well make sure everything looks good ahead of time. It can be tedious, but clients love to send out their new site to friends and family, so better make sure it’s going to look good. Chrome Inspector is a great tool to help debug any issues you might encounter as you test your site.

If you’re building a new theme on top of an existing Shopify store, you’ll want to make sure all the navigation links are pointing to the proper places. This can be tricky when you’re previewing a theme because there’s only one master navigation section, so sometimes this needs to happen immediately after the site has been published.

Sometimes when I’m building a site, I’ll create custom page templates which don’t automatically get applied when the theme is published. It’s something I have forgotten in the past, so don’t forget to update the pages to the right collection, product or page templates.

Don’t forget to do a test transaction to make sure everything is working as planned with accepting payments and confirmation emails. With Shopify’s new responsive checkout layout, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve selected the “show storefront logo” option. 

Want to impress your client with better looking notification emails? The default email styles for the Shopify confirmation emails are pretty bland, so I like to use the free Email Template Creator app to create better looking templates that are on brand with the store.

Once the store has launched, I always make a point of exporting the finished theme and saving it to a Dropbox folder just in case something happens to it down the line. I also recommend cloning the theme in the store so that there’s always an easy fallback if something goes wrong with the main theme.

Last but not least, I look through the original proposal that I sent over to make sure everything we discussed has been completed. Every now and then, you have to remind a client that some of the work they’ve requested wasn’t included in the original proposal, so it’s helpful to refer back to the original from time to time.

An important thing that I try not to forget is that my business has grown because of the positive reviews I’ve received. To make sure my clients are happy at the end of the project, I always try to make a point of making sure every client feels empowered to update their own site once it launches.

Once a site has launched, I schedule some time to either meet with a client in person or through a screenshare to make sure they’re comfortable updating their site going forward. I always make myself available to help with more complicated updates or changes, but I like to leave the product updates up to the client. 

Once you’re all set and done, don’t forget to send over a request for a review! A good customer review is worth its weight in gold.

P.S. I’ve come to rely on a few helpful apps that I use during most projects. Maybe some of these will help you.

Recordit

Recordit is a great app for taking quick video screencasts that you can send to your clients. It’s a super simple app to use and it’s free!

Dropbox

Dropbox is my go-to file sharing service. It’s great for passing photos and mock-ups along and keeps everything in sync.


About the author

Based in San Francisco, Mat Mullen has been designing Shopify stores for the past four years and has plenty of experience working with small businesses that need help setting up their stores. During the day, he works as a Product Manager of Slack and sits on the board at The San Francisco Social.

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