From Concept to Launch: The Web Developer’s Checklist for New WordPress Sites

WordPress runs almost 30% of websites on the internet. It is perfect for both blogs and large companies because it is easy to use, has an extensive range of plugins and themes, and is free to use. However, you must carefully plan and prepare to ensure that the launch of a new WordPress site runs well for both the owner and visitors.

From idea to launch, this article provides step-by-step guidance for WordPress site launches. Along with marketing techniques like SEO and social media advertising, it covers necessary actions like selecting a theme, installing WordPress, and picking a hosting provider. Make sure your website is secure, optimized, and prepared to bring in and interact with users by using this checklist.

Pre-Development: Laying the Foundation

Before starting development, it’s important to lay the groundwork for a successful launch. This includes finalizing the purpose and goals for your website, creating wireframes and site maps, selecting a domain name, choosing a web hosting provider, and having a WordPress development company install a fresh WordPress site on your server. Taking the time for planning and preparation upfront will ensure your site gets built on a solid foundation.

Defining Your Website’s Purpose and Goals

Having a clear understanding of your website’s purpose and goals is crucial in the planning process.

  • Determine if your site will be used for e-commerce, professional portfolio, blog, etc. This allows you to make informed decisions when designing and developing your site.
  • Ensure your goals also align with your purpose – an e-commerce site should aim to generate sales, and a portfolio to showcase work samples.
  • Defining this upfront provides direction and focus for all aspects of site design and content creation.

Choosing the Right Domain Name and Hosting

  • Your domain name is your web address and a key part of your brand identity. Choose something memorable, short, and relevant to your site topic or business.
  • Avoid hyphens or numbers. Using keywords can help with SEO but readability is most important.
  • Web hosting provides the storage, bandwidth, and servers needed to make your site accessible online.
  • Choose a reliable provider with adequate resources to support your site traffic. Look for good uptime, speed, customer support, and security features.
  • Shared hosting is the most affordable option for blogs/small sites just starting.
  • VPS and dedicated hosting allow more control but cost more.
  • Research hosts thoroughly and purchase domain names and hosting together for convenience. This crucial foundation heavily impacts your site’s performance and security.

Planning Content and User Experience

Planning the content and user experience for your website is a critical step before development begins.

  • User experience (UX) refers to how visitors interact with and navigate your site. A positive UX means intuitive flows, seamless navigation, and easy access to information.
  • Create a sitemap to outline the content topics, site architecture, and navigation. Organize related content effectively.
  • Plan for an intuitive information hierarchy and consistent design elements across pages. These UX considerations greatly impact user engagement and satisfaction.

Selecting a Theme: Design and Functionality

Your theme controls the overall design, layout, and front-end functionality of your WordPress site, so it’s important to work with an experienced web development company when selecting and customizing your theme.

  • Choose a theme that aligns with your brand style and provides the features you need.
  • Consider responsiveness on mobile devices, customization options, compatibility with essential plugins, speed/performance factors, and documentation/support availability.
  • Review theme demos and read customer reviews. Focus on both design aesthetics as well as core site functionality and performance.
  • A properly vetted theme with a solid framework creates an excellent user experience and simplifies website development.

Essential Plugins for Functionality and Security

Plugins allow you to easily extend WordPress functionality beyond what the core platform and themes provide.

  • Plugins are installed to add specific features like contact forms, galleries, eCommerce, booking systems, forums etc.
  • Security plugins help protect your site against attacks, block spam, and enforce best practices. Use an all-in-one plugin like Wordfence for complete security.
  • SEO plugins optimize your content for search engines. Yoast SEO is the most popular.
  • Performance plugins improve site speed by optimizing images, caching pages, and compressing files. W3 Total Cache is a top choice.
  • Carefully evaluate each plugin based on your needs, site security, compatibility with your host and theme, and overall site performance. Only install essential plugins to start.

Development: Building Your WordPress Site

With planning and preparation complete, it’s time to start building your WordPress site. Have your web host and domain name ready to go. Install WordPress core files on your server and complete the famous 5-minute installation process. Activate your selected theme and begin customizing the design and settings. Install and configure essential plugins, create your page templates, and develop the site navigation menu structure. Input your content, review for quality and user experience, and start finalizing all elements for launch.

Installing WordPress

  • WordPress installation is quick and easy. Your web host usually provides a one-click install option through cPanel.
  • Manually installing WordPress involves FTP access to upload WordPress files to your server and creating the database yourself. This takes more technical skill but allows more control.
  • Follow the famous 5-minute installation process, including setting admin credentials and site information. Click through wizard prompts and your basic WordPress site will be ready.

Theme Customization and Branding

  • One benefit of WordPress is deep theme customization for your brand. Start by activating your selected theme.
  • Adjust theme options like colors, fonts, and layouts to align with your brand style guide.
  • Integrate your logo and brand assets seamlessly. Use child themes for advanced modifications.
  • Choose complimentary colors that reinforce your brand identity. Define typography styles for headings, body text, etc.
  • Well-executed theme customization creates an immersive branded experience for your audience.

Creating Engaging Content Pages

Creating high-quality, well-written content should be a priority for your WordPress site. Unique, useful content encourages visitors to stay longer, take action, and return in the future.

Follow best practices for writing compelling content:

  • Structure content clearly with descriptive headings and concise paragraphs.
  • Captivate readers with intriguing headlines using emotional triggers or specificity.
  • Incorporate visuals like infographics and photos to reinforce key points.
  • Optimize content for SEO by including relevant keywords naturally and highlighting important information.

You’ll need different types of content depending on your site purpose – product descriptions for e-commerce, client case studies for agencies, blog posts to establish your expertise, and more. Ensure all content provides value for your audience while supporting your goals.

Optimizing Images and Media

Images, videos, and media make content more engaging but can significantly slow site performance if not optimized properly.

  • Compress images to reduce file size without losing quality. JPEG and PNG formats work best.
  • Resize images appropriately for the page. Don’t overload page content.
  • Add descriptive alt text for accessibility and SEO benefits.
  • Lazy load images and videos to improve load times.
  • Optimize media following best practices on your host server as well for maximum efficiency.

Setting Up Menus and Navigation

Creating a clear, intuitive navigation scheme is essential for a positive user experience on your WordPress site.

  • Set up simple primary and secondary menus using the built-in menu functions. Avoid convoluted hierarchies.
  • Structure menus and navigation bars logically based on your content organization and site map.
  • Use descriptive, consistent menu labels across all pages. Keep primary menus condensed with key pages/sections.
  • Test all navigation paths thoroughly. Refine structure as needed to eliminate confusion and dead ends.
  • Well-planned menus and navigation make it effortless for visitors to find information.

Implementing Essential Plugins

Plugins allow you to expand WordPress functionality, but use them selectively. Only install essential plugins at launch to optimize performance.

  • Carefully configure each plugin following best practices – update settings, adjust placement, and test thoroughly.
  • For security, install Wordfence or iThemes Security. Enable firewall, malware scans, and other key protections.
  • Yoast SEO improves SEO rankings by optimizing content and XML sitemaps.
  • Add performance plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP Rocket to improve site speed.
  • Only add more plugins once your site meets your goals. Limit plugins to preserve optimal site speed and security.

Testing Functionality and Responsiveness

Thoroughly testing your WordPress site across devices and browsers before launch is crucial for identifying issues.

  • Functionality testing ensures all site components work properly – plugins, forms, payment systems, etc.
  • Check site responsiveness on all screen sizes – desktop, tablet, and mobile. Address any display issues.
  • Browser testing confirms site compatibility on major browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.
  • Leverage browser developer tools to identify errors, inspect page elements, and debug problems.
  • Slow site speeds or crashes point to performance bottlenecks to address. Fix identified problems.
  • Conduct user testing with a diverse group for additional feedback on usability and user experience.
  • Comprehensive testing saves you from launch issues and helps build site reliability.

Pre-Launch: Final Touches and Security

With your WordPress site built, it’s time for final optimizations to prepare for a successful launch. Review all content, triple-check configurations, implement security protections, create documentation, and establish backups. Address any last-minute issues and run final tests. Optimizing performance and security provides peace of mind when the site goes live.

Setting Up Permalinks

Permalinks creates descriptive URL structures for WordPress posts and pages, improving user experience. Choose a user-friendly format like Post Name over default numbers. This also helps pages rank better in search engines.

Installing and Configuring an SSL Certificate

SSL certificates encrypt data transmission and establish an HTTPS secure connection. This boosts site security and builds user trust in your brand. Purchase an SSL certificate and work with your host to install it.

Click through the configuration prompts to activate it for your WordPress site. Ensure all site references are updated to use HTTPS vs HTTP. Install an SSL plugin to redirect all traffic to HTTPS by default. An SSL certificate is required for sites handling user information.

 Implementing SEO Best Practices

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) improves your site’s ranking in search engines through optimizations. Research keywords and incorporate them naturally in content. Optimize page titles and meta descriptions for each page.

Ensure a well-structured information architecture and internal linking. Install SEO plugins like Yoast for additional functionality like XML sitemaps. These best practices make your site content more findable. SEO brings in targeted traffic from search engines.

Creating Legal Pages

Privacy policies and terms of service establish trust and protect your business. Use free legal resources to customize templates for your WordPress site. Make these accessible from your site footer. Accurate legal pages demonstrate your credibility and compliance.

Implementing Security Measures

Maintaining strong security is crucial for any WordPress site. Follow these tips:

  • Keep WordPress and all plugins updated to the latest versions to patch vulnerabilities.
  • Install security plugins like Wordfence to monitor for threats and enforce best practices.
  • Use strong passwords, limit admin users, and leverage two-factor authentication.
  • Make regular malware scans part of your maintenance routine.
  • Restrict unused user roles and unnecessary file permissions.
  • Back up your site regularly in case you need to restore it after an attack.

Ongoing security protections will help safeguard your site as it grows and evolves after launch.


Launching a new WordPress website is an exciting endeavor, but also requires careful planning and execution to be successful. Following a structured pre-launch checklist helps you build a solid foundation optimized for performance, security, and user experience. Invest time upfront in defining goals, planning content, and selecting the right tools like theme, domain, and hosting. Build your site meticulously using best practices for design, development, and Search Engine Optimization.

Conduct comprehensive testing to identify issues early. Add final touches like SSL certificates, legal pages, and security protections to complete your site. With proper preparation using this comprehensive checklist, you can confidently launch your polished WordPress site, backed by a strong framework for ongoing growth and evolution.