Pre-launch website checklist
One of the most important stage of any new website project is the pre-launch checks, they not only ensure that your website looks awesome and functions correctly, but is important for SEO and optimal performance for your users.
As official Squarespace Specialists & active Squarespace Circle members we've build hundreds of Squarespace sites, we've refined our process to include a number of pre-launch checks. If you're new to Squarespace, or want to make sure that you're producing the best work for some new clients, here are our top 16 checks to make before publishing your Squarespace website!
1. Site Description
This is simply a short descriptions or 'bio' of your site mainly for internal Squarespace use, however some templates will display this so it's definitely worth completing!
Settings > Website > Basic Information > Site Description
2. Business Information
This settings panel allows you to set all of your relevant business information including: name, address, contact phone number, contact email, location and business hours. Some templates will automatically display this information, it is also used in the Mobile Information Bar.
Settings > General > Business Information
3. SEO Description
This is one of the most important settings for SEO - the Search Engine Description is what is displayed below a page title / link in search engine results. Squarespace includes options for editing both your site’s search engine description and individual page descriptions - either will be displayed in search results, depending on the search terms used.
Settings > Website > SEO > Search Engine Description
4. Blog URL Formatting
This is an often overlooked setting but something that is super important. As standard, Squarespace includes year, month, day and blog post title in the URL which not only looks terrible but can result in long URLs, which isn't great for SEO. Make sure you remove the " %m/%d/%y " from the URL format field and just have " %t ".
Settings > Website > Blogging > Post URL Format
5. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) are 'lightweight' versions of a web pages that load faster, and are more optimised, for mobile devices. Make sure you select AMP for your Squarespace site as AMP works with Google to prioritise results in mobile searches. Currently this is just being rolled out on blog posts.
Settings > Website > Blogging > AMP
6. Share & Pin It Buttons
It's really important that users can easily share your website's content on Social Media. Make sure that the relevant platforms are selected under 'Share Buttons' panel and you also allow Pinterest users to pin your content under the 'Pin It Buttons' panel.
Settings > Website > Marketing > Share Buttons / Pin It Buttons
7. Secure Site - SSL / HTTPS
Last October Squarespace announced that they were rolling out free SSL certificates for all sites - SSL technology secures the connection between browsers and your website, meaning that your visitors can feel confident that their information is secure. It's also good for SEO as search engines much prefer secure sites. Make sure 'Secure' is selected, we also advise selecting 'HSTS Secure'.
Settings > Website > Security & SSL
8. Connect Google Analytics
This is a no brainer! Although Squarespace is upping their analytics game, Google Analytics is by far the most powerful and in-depth platform for tracking website data. Make sure you'd got a google Analytics account set up and connected to your Squarespace website.
Settings > Website > Advanced > External Services > Google Analytics Account Number
9. Browser Favicon
Again, this is another settings that is overlooked way more than it should be - it amazes us to see so many AWESOME looking websites that still have the standard Squarespace favicon! The Favicon is essentially a mini logo that browsers can use to display in tabs and other windows.
More information can be found in our Favicon Squarespace Tips Guide.
Design > Logo & Title > Browser Icon (Favicon)
10. Disable Squarespace Badge
This is subjective really, and depends on your own preferences. As standard, your website will automatically have a floating Squarespace logo that opens up a "Powered by Squarespace" message when hovered over. If you want to remove this you can do so in the Design settings.
Design > Squarespace Badge > Disable Squarespace Badge
11. Page & Index Descriptions
Page & Index descriptions are super important for SEO as they help search engines determine individual page content. Try to include key words as naturally as possible and avoid duplicating descriptions, try to make them as unique as you can. Depending on which template you are using these descriptions may be automatically displayed, however they can be hidden using CSS if required.
12. Check Your Links
Broken links can be an SEO killer - make sure that all of your internal links are working correctly and take users to the correct pages. You may have changed URL slugs for certain pages or galleries during the design process so make sure that all of your body links are updated. There are a number of online tools that can help identify broken links such as the 'Check My Links' Chrome Extension.
13. External Links
Whenever you include a link to somewhere outside of your Squarespace website, or links to any PDF / File content, make sure that 'Open In A New Window' is selected - the last thing you want is to sending people away from your site!
14. Email & Phone Links
Make sure that all of your email addresses within your body content open up a new email to correct address, same goes for telephone numbers. More info on including links can be found here.
15. Form Storage
Make sure that any forms on your website are connected to your email address as well as a Google Drive account - making sure that Google Drive is connected is super important as it acts as a backup for submission storage.
16. Spelling & Grammar
It may sounds completely obvious but spelling mistakes and bad grammar can have a seriously negative impact on your user experience. Go through each page of your website and make sure that there aren't any silly mistakes. They can sometimes be hard to spot when you've been working on a website and staring at the same content day-in-day-out, why not ask someone to proofread your site's content.
17. Mobile Design
All Squarespace websites are responsive, which is awesome, but you do need to make sure that you've built your site (and arranged your content blocks) in a way that makes sense on both desktop & mobile. All page content blocks need to be positioned correctly in relation to each other, so that they still make sense when switching to mobile mode. For example, if you have a text block underneath an image block make sure that it only spans the width of the image block above, not the whole page.
Don't forget your focal points! These can help ensure that your banner images look great on mobile and focus on the subject of your image.
You can use Squarespace's device view to check your pages - we regularly check our client websites on different devices during the design process itself.
18. Browser & Device Testing
As well as ensuring the site is built correctly using Device View throughout the design process, we also test all of our website's before launch using as many devices and browsers that are available to us. There are also a number of really useful online emulators that can display your site across varying browsers and devices such as Browserling & Screenfly.