Launching any Magento 2 website is never an easy task. Having a launch checklist is vital part of any developers arsenal. I thought it would be useful to share my checklist with you. See below a number of items I check before launching any site.
Do I have access to the production domain name DNS?
In the majority of Magento 2 website launches I carry out, I will require access to the DNS configuration for the clients domain name. Ensuring you have this before you start the go live process prevents any delays early on.
Are all caches enabled?
Magento 2 comes with a number of built in caches that greatly increase the performance of your website. Magento 2 developers will often disable some of these caches to allow them to work faster when developing a website. Ensuring that all of these caches are enabled and that the site has been tested thoroughly with the full page cache enabled is imperative.
Full page caching can cause issues when loading data dynamically on a static page via PHP or PHTML templates. Be sure to test this thoroughly before launch. A good example of this is if you are displaying a block on the product page that displays different content based on whether or not a customer is logged in.
Is the Magento 2 website in ‘Production’ mode?
Magento 2 comes with a number of different deployment modes. When developing a Magento 2 website a developer will often put the website into ‘developer’ mode to speed up their workflow. Before launching any website it is important to ensure that the website is in ‘production’ mode and is fully tested with this setting configured. Production mode can spring a few surprises during testing so its good practise to ensure that these tests are carried out.
To check the deployment mode currently configured on your webiste, logon to your servers command line and enter the following command from the web root:
Does the site perform well enough?
These tests should be carried out before launch with all caches enabled and the site in production mode. Any recommended changes should be applied pre-launch. I use the following tools when testing a sites performance:
Have I implemented all of the required 301 redirects?
If the URL structure of your Magento 2 website has changed then you will need to implement 301 redirects. This is to ensure that any URLs currently indexed by search engines are pointing to the correct place. This reduces the hit that your website will take on its SEO ranking post launch. Using tools such as Screaming Frog can ensure that you capture a list all of your existing URLs and check that they still point to the correct place on your new website. Avoiding any 404 pages is the key here.
Is the sites robots meta tag set correctly?
This is probably one of the most important items on this checklist. The meta robots tag provides instructions to search engines regarding how it should index your website. On the staging domain many developers will set the robots meta tag to “NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”. This tells search engines not to index this website. Before launch this meta tag should be set to “INDEX, FOLLOW” or be removed from the <head> of the site.
If the “NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW” robots tag is left in place after launch your website will quickly disappear from all search engines and this will hit your sites visitor numbers. Please, please, please check this before launching any Magento 2 website.
Are the base URLs set correctly?
When developing a new Magento 2 website, a developer will most likely have the base URLs pointing to a staging domain. These will need to be changed to point to the production domain in the system configuration. This can be found inside the Magento 2 admin area.
Are all payment methods configured in ‘live’ mode?
Any online payment methods that are configured on the website need to be set to ‘live’ mode. During testing a Magento 2 developer will have these set to ‘test’ mode in order to complete their testing.
Have all transactional emails been tested?
Magento 2 comes with a number of built in transactional emails that notify customers about a number of different subjects. All of these emails should be tested to ensure that they are sending correctly.
Also worth noting here is that by default the Magento logo displays on all emails. This needs to be updated with your own logo in the design configuration which can be found inside the Magento 2 admin area.
Have I changed the default Magento 2 favicon?
A favicon is a logo that associates the customer with your website. This can be found in the address bar and inside the browser tab when a customer accesses your website.
By default Magento 2 has the Magento icon set as the favicon for your website. You need to update this with your own favicon in the design configuration which is found inside the Magento 2 admin area.
Have the Magento 2 cron jobs been configured correctly?
In order for Magento 2 to run properly a cron job needs to be configured on the server. A cron job is a script that runs every minute on the server. The core Magento 2 application has a number of tasks that run at scheduled times and are vital to the day-to-day running of the website. These tasks are scheduled and executed by this cron job. In order to setup the cron job, it is advised that you speak to your Magento 2 developer or hosting provider.
Is there a valid SSL certificate in place?
All Magento 2 websites should have a valid SSL certificate in place. This is now more important than ever with browsers such as Google Chrome marking websites that do not have one as ‘Insecure’. Ensure that a valid SSL certificate is in place pre-launch. Services such as Cloud Flare and Lets Encrypt now offer free SSL certificates so there is no excuse not to have one.
Have all extension licences been setup for the production domain name?
Many Magento 2 developers will install a number of 3rd party extensions to provide functionality to meet the requirements of the website. It is important that these extensions have valid licences in place for the production domain. The reason for this is that when you go live and the websites domain changes to the production domain, the extensions won’t work if a valid licence is not in place. It is worth noting here that not all extensions require a licence but its definitely worth checking with your Magento 2 developer before launching to ensure that this is the case.
Google Analytics & 3rd Party Tracking
Before launching a list of 3rd party tracking providers should be compiled. From this list you should go through the site and check that all required tracking code is in place. This ensures that you don’t see a black hole appear in your tracking data.
I hope you have found this checklist useful. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions about anything above or if you need help putting together a go live plan for your Magento 2 website.