Web Wise: Ready, Set, Launch!

In the fourth and final installment of our series on web-related tips, we’re taking a look at the processes for launching a new website. If you missed our previous blog post on the development process, “Web Wise: Break It Down During Development,” check it out.

Congratulations! All that hard work planning your digital strategy, integrating your brand into your design, and developing your website is about to pay off. It’s time to launch your new website, and we’re here to help guide you through it. Below is our step-by-step guide for ensuring everything goes smoothly along the way.

Prepare

For a New Website Launch

If your website is brand new, your main concern will be selecting the right hosting environment for your needs and signing up for an account. We recommend finding a provider that supports WordPress hosting.

Next, if you still need to consider it, it will be time to decide on a domain name. Some web hosting services offer domain names as a free add-on for signing up for their plans, so be on the lookout for those offers.

To Update an Existing Website

For those replacing an existing website, a few additional steps are required. First, creating a backup of the content you are replacing is advisable. This backup should include website files, databases, themes, plugins, and media files. Thankfully, several WordPress backup plugins are available to simplify this process. You can even host the old website in a separate sandbox environment to retain access to its content. Just ensure you can access the DNS records to point your domain to the new hosting environment.

The next step is moving all of your old website material over to new pages or potentially a new domain. Migrating a WordPress website has become much easier in the last four to five years. In the past, this process has involved dealing with database access and replacing various entries to match your new hosting settings. However, nowadays, numerous tools make the migration process significantly easier.

Migration

To start, you’ll need to install WordPress on your new hosting account. Most hosting companies provide an easy way to install WordPress; simply look for options like “One-Click Install” or “Quick Install” in your hosting account’s control panel. Follow the instructions provided by your hosting company to complete the installation.

Once WordPress is set up on the new hosting account, you must import your WordPress site’s files and database. Plugins like “All In One Migration” or custom-built tools from WP Engine or Pantheon simplify this migration process, too. However, giving this step your full attention throughout its duration is important, as small details can be crucial to the overall success.

Then, after transferring your WordPress files and database to the new hosting server, you’ll need to update your WordPress configuration to reflect the new hosting environment.

Point DNS

A DNS (Domain Name System) acts like a phonebook, translating human-friendly domain names (e.g., www.example.com) into IP addresses that computers use to communicate (e.g., 192.0.2.1). Once you have a hosting provider, they will provide you with an IP address for their hosting server, which represents the unique address of your website’s home on the Internet.

Next, access your DNS settings by logging in to your domain registrar or DNS hosting provider’s website. This is the service where you initially registered your domain name. You can check with your domain registrar if you need clarification on your DNS provider.

In the DNS management interface, locate the section where you can edit your DNS records. You’ll want to modify the “A” record (Address record) or the “CNAME” record (Canonical Name record), depending on your hosting provider’s requirements. Be aware that DNS changes can take some time to propagate across the Internet, typically a few hours, though it can vary. During this time, some visitors may see your old website, while others will see the new one. Be patient and wait for the changes to take effect globally.

Testing

Now, visit your domain on the new hosting server to check if your WordPress site is functioning. Always test various features on the site to ensure everything is working as intended, including all of your pages, posts, images, and plugins.

By following these steps, you should have a smooth launch of your new website. This process doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Of course, there’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in the release of this new website, but with proper preparation, smooth migration, and thorough testing, you can ensure a successful deployment. Remember, patience is key during the DNS propagation period. Embrace the excitement of unveiling your new website and enjoy the rewards of your hard work. Happy launching!

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Pablo Ruiz de ChavezWeb Developer