Ultimate Website Checklist 2017: All Components of a Successful Website at One Glance [+ Free PDF]

Caresse Crosby couldn’t fit her bust into a corset. So she invented a bra.

Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, saw his employee struggling to fit a table into a car. So he invented the flat packaging.

This website checklist, too, was born out of frustration.

Every checklist I’ve ever come across on the web was either overwhelming or incomplete, or both.

Scrolling through endless paragraphs of text trying to filter out new information gave me headache and felt like a lot of time wasted. And even when I spotted a couple of useful points, they were just that – a collection of single tips with no strategy behind them.

But I as a professional website reviewer (and my clients as website owners) needed something that could show a bigger picture. Something that considered every component of a successful website. Something that made sense as a whole.

I started saving articles I’d been reading for work, organizing them in folders and making notes. And two months, 100+ articles and one big book later, this website checklist was born.

It is based on a 4-step process of how to make people buy your product and considers every component of a successful website, be it SEO, content or user experience.

Yet (so is my hope) it is not overwhelming, because of its structure and its visual presentation.

Here it is. Drums, please!

Website checklist infographic and PDF download

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The paragraphs below are the actual website checklist in the text format, a bit more detailed as the infographic. You can also download it as a free PDF.

Get Traffic to Your Website

The best product in the world is worth nothing if no one knows about it. The following paragraphs will show you the ways to get traffic to your website.

Organic search

Keyword optimization

☐ Target only one keyword per page

☐ Use words that are semantically linked to the keyword

☐ Use keyword in:

  • URL
  • Meta title
  • Meta description:
    • Not more than 160 characters
    • Unique for all pieces of content
    • Address customers’ problem
    • Present your solution
    • Highlight outcome
  • Beginning of the post
  • Throughout the text where it sounds naturally
  • Subheadings
  • Images:
    • Image file names
    • Image titles
    • ALT tags of images

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Local SEO

☐ Name / address / phone number:

  • Consistent across the web
  • In footer of your website

☐ Set up business listing on:

☐ Create citations on:

☐ Use Google Category as a keyword for your homepage

☐ Use {keyword} + {city} on pages/posts

URLs

☐ As short as possible

☐ Use “-” not “_” between the words

Tip: If your url is “mywebsite.com/photoshop_tutorials” search engines see it as “mywebsite.com/photoshoptutorials”, and you lose your keywords in the url.

Enticing headline

☐ Clear benefit

☐ Solve a problem

☐ Ignite curiosity

Tip: An enticing headline increases the click-through rate (CTR, the number of times people click on a link vs the number of people who saw it), which is a search ranking factor.

Backlinks

☐ Guest posting

☐ Outreach

Tip: Together with quality content optimized for the keywords, quality backlinks are the second major ranking factor. Developing a link acquisition strategy that works is bloody difficult not easy, especially if you are a small businesses owner or a solopreneur, and depends on your particular situation. This honest and detailed article on modern link acquisition tactics that work should help you decide on a strategy that fits your business most.

SEO “don’t”s

☐ Duplicate content / meta titles / meta descriptions

☐ Optimizing more than one page for the same keyword

☐ Keyword stuffing

☐ Buying links

Social networks

Social Profiles

☐ “Follow me” buttons on the website

☐ Active profiles:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn, etc.

Tip: You don’t have to be on every possible social network out there. These are just the most popular examples. And as dump-and-run strategy won’t grow you a loyal following, it’s better to select a couple of networks where you think your target audience spend time and focus your efforts on consistently posting relevant content and interacting with others.

☐ Profiles visually similar across all social networks:

  • Profile image
  • Cover image
  • Name
  • Handle
  • Description:
    • Make it clear and to the point
    • Link to homepage / landing page
    • Add call to action
    • Integrate keywords

Maximize engagement

☐ Make your content easy for others to share:

  • Prominent share buttons
  • Default message not empty
  • “Click to tweet” buttons within blog posts

☐ Featured image optimized for sharing:

  • Attention-grabbing
  • Suitable dimensions
  • Readable text (if any)
  • Branded

☐ Use twitter cards

☐ Use Facebook open graph

Tip: When you use Twitter cards and Facebook open graph, Twitter and Facebook will automatically display the featured image when your posts get shared on social networks. Posts that include images are more noticeable. For example, tweets with images double your chances of engagement. On Facebook, image posts get 179% more interaction than an average Facebook post.

Paid Traffic

☐ Google AdWords

☐ Facebook Ads

☐ LinkedIn Ads

☐ Twitter Ads, etc.

Tip: Paying for traffic is not something you *must* do to make your website successful. But it’s a good idea to invest $100 to test a crucial landing page and optimize it for the highest conversion before promoting it.

Measure your efforts

☐ Set up Google Analytics

☐ Set up Google Search Console (former Webmaster Tools)

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Step 1: Summary

Ultimate Website Checklist Part 1: Get Visitors to Your Website

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Make a Great First Impression

You got people over to your site. Now, you have just a couple of seconds to make them stay. The points listed in the next paragraphs have you covered.

Flawless user experience

☐ Fast website loading speed:

  • Use good website host
  • Optimize images
  • Reduce number of plugins
  • Enable browser caching
  • Enable compression (gzip)
  • Minify resources
  • Simplify website design:
    • Reduce number of elements on a page
    • Use CSS instead of images where possible
    • Combine multiple style sheets in one
    • Reduce number of scripts
    • Put scripts at the bottom of the page

Tip: To get a general idea whether you need to optimize your site’s load speed (especially the images) check your website with Google PageSpeed Insights. For more detailed list of the issues with your load speed, check your website with GTMetrix.com.

☐ No broken links/error messages

☐ Design:

  • Visually appealing
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Responsive
  • Add a favicon

☐ No interruptions:

  • No autoplay of video / audio
  • Reduce number of ads
  • Use pop-ups wisely:
    • Don’t use intrusive pop-ups on mobile
    • Make sure you are not interrupting your visitors before they reach their goal

Tip: Site speed is a major ranking factor. And although Google says that user experience is an implicit ranking factor only on mobile devices, it plays a major role in natural shares and distribution (think backlinks!) your content will get.

Content Presentation

☐ Everything’s easy to read:

  • Unobtrusive background
  • Appropriate font types and sizes
  • High contrast between font and background
  • Links visually stand out
  • Post text is well-formatted and scannable:
    • Headings
    • Short paragraphs
    • Text highlights (bold, italic, etc.)
    • Lists / bullet points
    • Visually prominent quotes

☐ Use visuals:

  • Images
  • Video
  • Slide share

Tip: Don’t overdo it. Too many images, whole paragraphs of highlighted text and endless bullet point lists achieve the opposite and make your visitors leave.

Content Quality

☐ Correct grammar and spelling

☐ Grab attention from the start

☐ Deliver what you promised in your title

☐ Solve problems of your target audience

☐ Avoid jargon

☐ Show your personality

☐ Support your claims with evidence:

  • Research
  • Examples
  • Expert quotes
  • Other articles on the topic written by experts

Tip: Even if you are a nobody in your niche (for now) you can make your writing sound authoritative by borrowing the authority from others and supporting your claims with existing evidence.

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Step 2: Summary

Ultimate Website Checklist Part 2: Make Great First Impression

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Get Them to Know, Like and Trust You

Great! You were able to impress your visitors. Now they want to find out more about you and your product. The following paragraphs show you how to reinforce that first impression and get your visitors to know, like and trust you.

Reinforce great first impression

Homepage

☐ Should answer these questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • For whom?
  • What’s in it for them?

Tip: Your homepage can be the prettiest in the world. But if it fails to instantly tell people what it is that you do and how it helps them, they will leave faster than you can blink.

☐ Should include:

  • Logo:
    • Unique and original
    • Stands out
    • Displays company name clearly
    • Positioned top-left
  • Links to homepage
  • Photo of you / your team
  • Navigation
  • Headline
  • Call to action
  • Introduction
  • List of features / Benefits
  • Subscription form
  • Social proof:
    • Testimonials
    • Client logos
    • Certifications
    • Awards
    • Statistics

Tip: Not all of these points have to be in your footer, of course. Just select the most relevant for you and your business. But whatever you do, don’t leave it empty. Make that precious space at the end of every page work for you.

About page

☐ Quick intro

☐ Your mission

☐ Show your personality:

  • Likable
  • Relatable

☐ Credibility enhancers:

  • Awards
  • Qualifications
  • Work samples

☐ Call to action

Tip: Although your “About” page should provide more information about you than any other page, it still should be mainly about your audience.

Engage your audience

☐ Allow comments

☐ Don’t leave comments unanswered

☐ Ask questions at the end of your posts

Encourage to discover more content

Blog

☐ Link in navigation menu

☐ Posts:

  • “Related posts” section
  • Internal links to other posts / pages:
    • Use them where they add value
    • Use keyword for post / page you are linking to in the link text
  • Author’s box:
    • Short bio
    • Links to social profiles

Tip: Smart internal linking is one of the easiest ways to give your page a search ranking boost.

Email subscription

☐ Set up an email sequence

☐ Opt-in form:

  • On every page
  • Set the expectations on what you share via email and how often
  • Highlight the benefits
  • Minimize number of fields

☐ Email Newsletter:

  • Regular
  • Relevant
  • Write enticing subject line
  • Proper “reply-to” address
  • Proper “from” name
  • Focus on helping, not selling
  • Check how it looks on mobile
  • Before sending, check spam score

Tip: Use Mail-tester.com to check whether your email will reach your subscribers or will be automatically filtered out as SPAM. This free tool also shows you the exact issues with your email.

Navigation

☐ Descriptive

☐ Intuitive

☐ Clear:

  • About
  • Services
  • Pricing
  • Blog
  • Books / Courses
  • Contact
  • Search bar

☐ Mouse pointer changes on clickable links

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Step 3: Summary


Ultimate Website Checklist Part 3: Get People to Know, Like and Trust You

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Make a Sale

The moment you’ve been waiting for has come. Your visitors know, like and trust you. Now they won’t mind if you start marketing to them sending them your offer. The following paragraphs will show you how to make your offer irresistible and close the sale.

Service / Product page

☐ Text:

  • Grab reader’s attention
  • Get to the point quickly
  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Address and eliminate possible objections
  • Use short sentences whenever possible
  • Avoid jargon
  • Add social sharing buttons
  • Unique value proposition:
    • Expose reader’s need
    • Demonstrate importance
    • Tell what’s in for them
    • Focus on benefits, not features
    • State features clearly
    • Justify conversion

☐ Visual presentation:

  • What’s important is prominent
  • Logically related elements also visually related
  • Clearly defined page areas
  • Clickable elements are obvious
  • Minimize distractions

☐ Credibility enhancers:

  • Awards
  • Client logos
  • Personal information protection
  • Testimonials:
    • Believable
    • Using full names and images
    • Reinforcing unique value proposition
    • Using data behind the value service / product delivers
    • Addresses fears and explains how they were eliminated

Tip: “This is great!” is not a great testimonial. Check out this article for some examples of truly great testimonials.

☐ Call to action:

  • One per page
  • Visually prominent
  • Clear
  • Compelling

Tip: If nobody is clicking on your otherwise perfect call-to-action button, try burying it further down the page. Your visitors might need more information before making a commitment.

Easy conversion process

☐ Minimize number of steps to reach the goal

☐ Prominent link to Contact / Services page

☐ Form inputs:

  • Easy to use
  • Ask only for the necessary information

☐ Prominent call to action

☐ Secure your site with HTTPS

Three main reasons to switch to HTTPS:

Make it easy to contact you

☐ Use contact form instead of email address

☐ Link to Contact page from navigation

☐ Link to Contact page from footer

☐ List a phone number

Step 4: Summary


Ultimate Website Checklist Part 4: Make a Sale

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Did I miss anything?

What do you think? Will this checklist be able to help you and your business website? Did I forget to include an important point? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About the Author
Gill Andrews is a versatile content creator and web consultant for small businesses and solopreneurs. When she is not writing blog posts or reviewing websites, she is probably running after her toddler son or eating chocolate cake (because reviewing websites and running after toddlers requires energy no salad can provide).

2 thoughts on “Ultimate Website Checklist 2017: All Components of a Successful Website at One Glance [+ Free PDF]

    1. Hi Patrick. These are my favorite kinds of comments 🙂 Glad you found it useful.

      By the way, there is another, interactive version of this checklist for the advanced website owners – a mind map that has the same content as this PDF list, but literally lets you cross off & add tasks, track progress and set priorities. You can check it out here (it’s free): http://gillandrews.com/website-review-checklist/

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