A website redesign can be a great way to breathe new life into your law firm’s site. Updating your site design can do a lot to increase traffic and engagement. The process of getting from current site to new site, though, can be nerve racking.
Even though a newly updated site is going to look great, there are several technical issues that need to be checked and tested to ensure you get the results you were looking for. If your law practice is putting a freshly redesigned site online, you should go through the following checklist as soon as possible to avoid potentially damaging problems that could have long-term effects.
Check With Multiple Browsers
The first thing you should do is check your site in multiple browsers. Different browsers interpret the code that makes up your site in different ways. It’s important to make sure that everything looks the way it’s supposed to look in the most popular browsers. This should be done during the design phase, but you’ll want to check after after your site is live.
You should check with Chrome, Firefox, and your operating system’s native browser, which would be Microsoft Edge for recent versions of Windows, and Safari for Apple devices. You just want to make sure that all of the main design elements look the way they should. Look for things that might be out of alignment or even missing when you switch browsers.
Check Overall Functionality
After checking to make sure things look the way they should, it’s time to make sure everything works the way it should. A few examples would be:
- Be sure menu links go to the right pages
- Make sure internal links go to the intended pages
- Fill out contact forms and make sure information is submitted correctly
- Verify that email signup forms work correctly
- Manually type in a bad URL to be sure error pages provide useful information
The main idea, of course, is to make sure that users get what they want when they click on a link or fill out a form. If you find anything that’s not working the way it was intended, it should be a top priority to get the problem corrected.
Be Sure Your Sitemap Is Accurate
When your new site goes online it’s important to make sure that your sitemap is up to date and that software such as WordPress is correctly generating a new sitemap when needed. You can check this by going to http://example.com/sitemap.xml and looking at the last modified date.
Check Webmaster Tools For Indexing Problems
One of the most important post-update checks to carry out after your new design goes live is to keep an eye on your Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard and watch for errors. Anything that goes wrong here could lead to pages — or even your entire site — being dropped from Google’s search results.
You should make it a point to check in with Google daily for at least a week or two. The two main things to watch are crawl errors (located under “Crawl”) and index status (located under “Google Index”). Crawl errors will let you know if Google is having any trouble reading or accessing any pages. Index status will allow you to see if pages are being dropped from the index.
In most cases, if you see errors or pages being removed, it will be because URLs have changed and there are no redirects set up to point the search crawlers to your new pages. If this is the case, you’ll need to have your site administrator setup what are known as 301 redirects to let the search engines know where your content can now be found. Once proper redirects have been put in place, dropped pages should start showing up in search results again. Note that it can take a few weeks for this to happen.
Related: You’ve Built a Website. Now What?
Small Problems Are Probably Unavoidable
No matter what you do when you redesign and relaunch your law firm’s website, there are bound to be small problems. You’re most likely going to lose at least a little bit of traffic initially as search results shift and settle again. The key to a quick and solid recovery is to be proactive about looking for problems and getting them resolved as quickly as possible. By following through with the suggestions above, you should be able to minimize any short-term losses and set your firm up for some great long-term gains.