WordPress Checklist to Audit Your Website

WordPress Checklist to Audit Your Website

WordPress Checklist to Audit Your Website

“Can you check my website and tell me if everything is working correctly?” (or something along those lines) is one of the most frequent questions we are asked! Well, in response to your requests, we put together the “Ultimate Checklist” to audit any WordPress website!

Launching a WordPress website is no simple task. Many different parts of the project need to come together to form consistent and functional user experience.

Though there is always room improvement and you can always fix a website, it’s best to work with some sort of quality control before launching your site.

Naturally, if you already launched your website, you can still use the checklist to see if you missed something!

Do I Really Need a Website Checklist?

Absolutely, you really need this checklist! Allow me to evaluate.

When a car comes off a production assembly line, it undergoes rigorous testing to ensure that the final product meets safety and industry standards. Otherwise, car companies may find themselves with expensive recalls and hefty fines.

Now, if you work with WordPress professionally, chances are that you frequently launch WordPress websites.

Building a WordPress website is not much different from an assembly line. You really want to refine the process and ship a correctly built product! Otherwise, you may disappoint a customer or find yourself frantically scrambling to fix a misconfigured website.

Furthermore, a checklist can make your life a lot easier. No matter how experienced you are, do you really want to remember +100 different tasks? Offloading the tasks into a checklist can help you improve your productivity and monitor the quality of your team.

In addition, it’s easier to handle a big task when it’s broken down into smaller categories.

For our audit and quality control, we organized the task into the following categories:

  1. Design
  2. Content
  3. WordPress Settings
  4. Functionality
  5. SEO
  6. Legal
  7. Security
  8. Maintenance

Please note that this checklist is not meant to be a perfect fit for all websites. But rather an outline that you can use and adapt to your needs. Good quality control needs to be constantly improved!

1. Design

  • Validate HTML markupUse a tool like W3C’s markup validation service.
  • Cross-browser compatibilityit’s good practice to check your website in Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari.
  • Legacy browser supportsome projects require legacy support but, in any case, it’s a good idea to add an outdated browser notification.
  • Responsive designwe all know that mobile is super important nowadays! Make sure you check your site using Chrome’s emulator tool.
  • Add a faviconPeople always forget to add a favicon! It’s that “little logo” in the browser tab that identifies your website.
  • Link your logo to the homepagenaturally; every website should have a logo. Then make sure it links to the homepage.
  • AnimationsCheck for glitches and delays in your animation effects. Don’t overdo it! Too many animations look tacky.
  • ConsistencyStrive for consistency in size, color, font, padding and margin among similar elements (e.g. buttons, links, forms, and pop-ups).


    2. Content

  • Replace dummy textif you have lorem ipsum on your site, make sure you banish it from all your pages!
  • ProofreadGrammar and spelling errors scream “unprofessional” to your customers. It’s well worth hiring a trained expert to proofread your site.
  • Format contentMake sure that you are using the correct HTML tags in your articles and pages. Avoid big paragraphs.
  • Image descriptionsdon’t forget to label your images with alt descriptions.
  • Page linkscheck that internal links point to where they are supposed to, external links open in new tabs and that no link is broken.
  • Downloadable filescheck that downloadable are proofread, compressed and correctly linked.
  • Create a 404 pageMost WordPress themes come with a built-in 404 page, but it’s best to double-check.
  • Redirectif you are updating an old website or changing the domain, make sure that you have the necessary 301 redirects in place to preserve your rankings and traffic.


    3. WordPress Settings

  • Admin emailEnter an admin email address to receive notifications from your WordPress website.
  • Time and dateselect your time zone, set your date and time format.
  • Search engine visibilityVerify that the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option is unselected.
  • Discussion settingsfor brochure, websites disable the pingbacks, trackbacks, comments, and avatars. For content-intensive websites, adjust the settings accordingly.
  • Permalinksupdate the permalinks to something a little friendlier than the WordPress default.


    4. Functionality

  • Website formsTest drive all your forms (contact, newsletter, checkout, survey, etc…) and ensure that they are submitting and processing data correctly.
  • Form notifications and confirmationsFurther to the previous task, double-check that your forms are sending emails to the correct addresses (internal notification as well as confirmation emails).
  • Test social sharing functionalityShare your homepage, pages, and posts and check that your content looks good when it’s shared on social media. You can use handy tools like Facebook’s open graph debugger to help you with the task!
  • PluginsCheck your installed plugins one by one and verify that they are correctly configured and are doing what they are meant to do.


    5. SEO

  • SEO PluginInstall and configure an SEO plugin like Yoast or the All-in-One SEO Pack.
  • Site title and taglinesuch an important detail, but often overlooked! Visit your general settings page and add your title and tagline.
  • Meta titles and descriptionsevery page on your website should include a catchy, descriptive and unique meta title and description.
  • Create a sitemapCreate and submit your sitemap to help search engine bots discover and index your website. We wrote a cool article about the best XML sitemaps for WordPress.
  • CacheImprove your load time by caching your website! Some hosting companies offer built-in caching solutions, alternatively, there are plenty of amazing plugins out there! Check out our list of the best caching plugins for WordPress.
  • File optimizationMinify HTML, CSS, and JS files. When possible, defer the loading of JavaScript files.
  • Image compressionImages are byte heavy. Compress them with a lossy compression service like TinyPNGor Imagify to improve load times.
  • CDNFor websites with international audiences, consider employing the services of the content delivery network to speed up the delivery of static assets.
  • Google Webmaster and AnalyticsSign up to both services for insights about your website’s performance in the search engines.
  • Social profiles and business listingsVerify that your business’s social profiles and listings link back to your website and display the correct company contact details.

    6.Legal

  • Contact informationMake your contact information easily accessible and if mandatory include your company details (e.g. registration number, VAT number, etc…).
  • Licensesverify that you purchased the necessary licenses for your site’s plugins, fonts, and images.
  • Copyrightadd the copyright symbol to your website and when applicable, include a copyright statement.
  • Privacy policyoften required by law, add a privacy policy to inform your visitors about the data you are collecting.
  • Terms and conditionsif there is any sort of financial transaction on your website, this is an absolute must! Since this is such an important document, it’s worth seeking legal counsel.
  • Cookiesin the EU cookie warning are mandatory! If required, add a cookie notification.
  • Local lawYour area might have specific legal demands for anti-spam measures, credit card processing, and more. Make sure you get informed and that your site adheres to them.


    7. Security

  • Security pluginsinstall a WordPress security plugin.
  • WAFConfigure a Web Application Firewall to block malicious requests and bots.
  • Login pageEnable brute force protection.
  • Admin userRemove the default WordPress admin user.
  • PasswordsEnforce strong and unique passwords.
  • 2FAConsider installing a two-factor authentication plugin on your WordPress installation as an additional security measure.
  • Clean upDelete any unused themes, plugins, draft and old copies of your website from the server.
  • Backup pluginsinstall a WordPress backup plugin like BackupBuddy and UpdraftPlus. Some hosting companies also provide backup services.
  • Off-site backupsDon’t forget to set a remote destination (off your server) to safely store your backups.


    8. Maintenance

  • Update reminderfor the wellbeing of your WordPress website, it’s super important to update the WordPress core, themes, and plugins. Set a repeat reminder in your calendar to remind yourself to log in to your WordPress dashboard and make sure that everything is up to date.
  • License renewalsensure that your subscriptions are set to auto-renew.
  • Monitor traffic statsa similar process to updating WordPress, set a date aside to log in to both Google Webmaster and Google Analytics. Analyze your traffic stats to assess your website’s performance.

Build Your Checklist!

Launching a correctly configured WordPress website is not a simple task! And remembering the entire process can be overwhelming. “I forgot”, for website owners, is simply not acceptable!

A checklist is a great tool to improve your productivity when launching a new website and an absolute must when auditing a live WordPress website.

By regularly updating your checklist, you can make every launch a little smoother and refine your workflow over time.

This list is just an inspiration, it’s up to you to improve it and make it your own!

Do you have any recommendations for our list? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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