Prepare for Launch

We suggest reviewing this page to familiarize yourself with the steps needed to prepare for your site launch. Then, fill out our Website Launch Request Form using the button on the right.

We request that you submit your launch request at least TWO WEEKS in advance of when you’d like to launch.

Website Launch Request Form

Domain Name

A domain is the naming system used by servers to provide users with a memorable address for accessing a website. The domain for your site is part of the website URL. Take this website, for example. The URL is https://wiscweb.wisc.edu/ and the domain is wiscweb.wisc.edu.

Do you have a domain name for your site already reserved? If so, please include it in your site launch request. If not, add your desired production domain to the launch request form and we’ll review it. If approved, we’ll configure it for use in WiscWeb.

If you are rebuilding an existing site, you may already have a domain. However, if your existing site lives in a sub-directory (domain.wisc.edu/subdirectoryname), we will need to request a new 3rd or 4th level domain for you as WiscWeb sites cannot be published to sub-directories. More information about the difference between a 3rd and 4th level domain can be found in the Domain Naming Guidelines for WiscWeb document.

Note: WiscWeb can no longer publish new sites to non-wisc.edu domains. If you require a .org, .com, .net, .coop, etc., they can still be purchased from a 3rd party domain registrar (like GoDaddy) but will need to redirected to a wisc.edu domain upon site launch.

Redirects

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Custom 404 Error Page

When rebuilding an existing website, it is recommended that you make users aware that the site content and navigation has changed. A great way to accomplish this is by setting a custom 404 error page. That way, if a user attempts to access a saved URL that no longer exists in the same location, they will learn that the site has changed and that they should update their bookmarks. You can also provide a link back to the homepage of the new site so that they can view the changes and demo the new navigational structure.

This is something that you can now set up in the UW Theme yourself. Please follow the KB instructions on creating a Custom 404 page.

One-to-One Redirects

If you are rebuilding an existing site and want to change the domain when you launch in WiscWeb, you may decide to redirect your old domain to the new one using a one-to-one redirect. This option will be available in the Launch Form when you designate that you are rebuilding an existing site.

Other types of one-to-one redirects can be handled separately by requesting them via our Support Form.

Testing

Prior to launching your site, we highly recommend testing the site in a couple different ways.

Multiple Browsers

Each browser renders a website slightly differently. We’ve worked hard to make sure that the UW Theme offers a consistent experience regardless of the browser but the content you built out could render differently in Firefox vs. Chrome vs. Safari vs. Internet Explorer, etc. Use the preview URL (https://sitename.wiscweb.wisc.edu) to test your site in as many browsers as you can. Click through each page and note any inconsistencies.

On and Off Campus

UW-Madison offers high speed internet, which means that your site content may load a lot faster on campus than it will off campus. Do yourself a favor and try accessing your preview URL (https://sitename.wiscweb.wisc.edu) from your home, a cafe, etc. If images are loading slowly off campus it means they are too large.

Desktop, Tablet, AND Mobile

As you build out your site, you’ve likely only looked at it from a desktop computer. Since the UW Theme is responsive, the page content is designed to flow down to fit a bevy of screen sizes. Therefore, we suggest that you test out the site on smaller devices like tablets and smart phones to make sure the page content is rendering as expected. This will give you an opportunity to tweak anything you don’t like before you launch the site.

Accessibility

While we cannot provide accessibility assessments on your site, we can offer a few resources for you to use. We highly recommend testing your sites and making attempts to improve your sites’ accessibility. Why? In addition to wanting campus websites to be accessible by all, it is also required under Section 508 standards. Find out more information about these guidelines (and why they are vitally important) on the UW-Madison Information Technology website. We also request that you please review UW-Madison’s World Wide Web Accessibility Policy prior to launch.

Accessibility resources can be found here:

Custom functionality

If you had any custom development completed on your site, make sure to test it, to confirm it works as expected in different browsers and devices, and that it doesn’t require any further development at this time.

Content

  • Make sure that no “test” pages are published, and all published pages don’t contain placeholder text, dummy content such as lorem ipsum.
  • Review all images on your site to be sure they don’t contain any privacy marks, and include proper alt attributes. Your images should also be optimized for web prior uploading them, so they load fast. Make sure that none of your images excess 300-500kb. there are a few online tools for easy and quick image compression: Image Compressor, Tiny PNG, and Small PDF to reduce the size of your documents.
  • Test all the forms that you have on your site to ensure they are being submitted correctly, and that correct receiver email is set.
  • Confirm that all the social links and address in the footer are correct.

Search Engine Optimization

By default, WordPress permalinks aren’t SEO friendly, but you can easily make them user and SEO friendly by making updates in Settings > Permalinks (in WordPress dashboard). Make sure you pick a permalink structure that fits your site goals.

Google Analytics

If you are interested in having your website pull data about site usage on the day you officially launch your site, this will need to be set up ahead of time. If you are ok with this not pulling data right away, it is absolutely fine to leave this until after the launch.

Existing Google Analytics Users

If you already have a Google Analytics account for a separate site or for the site you are rebuilding, that same account can be used. You may need to create a new instance for this sites’ domain, however.

New to Google Analytics

If you are new to Google Analytics but know you want to start tracking user metrics for your WiscWeb site, it is time to get that account setup.

Documentation

Our KnowledgeBase documentation will walk you through how to get started with a Google Analytics account and how to link that account to your site in WiscWeb.

Final Checks

Prior to launching your site, we recommend that you do the following:

Broken Links

Comb through the site and check every hyperlink to make sure it is resolving to the expected location. If it isn’t, login to your WordPress site and update the link. If your site is large, consider using a Link Checker like BrokenLinkCheck.com.

Team Checks

Send the preview URL (https://sitename.wiscweb.wisc.edu) to a few members of your team and give them an opportunity to review the site content. We recommend keeping this number low but it does help to have a second or third pair of eyes looking at it.

Scheduling the Launch

The last step in the process is to schedule your site for launch. We require two week’s notice prior to a launch so that we have enough time to test things on our end. When you know the date you’d like to launch (all launches are now scheduled for 10am), please fill out our website launch request form:

Website Launch Request Form