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.

The domain name should be recognizable to campus by either keyword or abbreviation and should accurately describe the group or program to which it refers.

Domains on campus typically follow one of two patterns:

3rd level domains
something.wisc.edu

  • Used for  university-wide, interdivisional, and broad-scope entities and initiatives.
  • 3rd level names that represent particular projects or localized services are discouraged, even if the project or service involves multiple units of the university.

4th level domains
something.departmentname.wisc.edu

  • Whenever possible, organizational units and groups should request 4th level domains that reference the larger college, division, or department in the sub-domain.
  • A best practice would be to vet these domains through your overarching group/dept/division to ensure you’re using the correct sub-domain and also getting permission to relate your site to that sub-domain.

If you are rebuilding an existing site, you may already have a domain. As long as it is a wisc.edu domain, we should be able to use that for your new WiscWeb site.

We ask that you please visit our KnowledgeBase to review the types of domains that can and cannot be supported in WiscWeb:

Domain Naming Guidelines    Best Practices in Domain Naming

Example WiscWeb Domains (requires NetID login)

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.

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.

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. Edge, etc. Use the preview URL (https://sitename.wiscweb.wisc.edu) to test your site in as many browsers as you can.

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.

Accessibility

While we cannot provide accessibility assessments on your site, we can offer a few accessibility resources for you to use. We highly recommend testing your sites and making attempts to improve your sites’ accessibility.

Content

  • Make sure that no “test” pages are published, and that you’ve removed placeholder text such as lorem ipsum.
  • Image suggestions:
    • Make sure you include proper alt text on all images.
    • Make sure that none of your images exceed 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.
  • Confirm that all the social links and contact info in the footer are correct.

Google Analytics 4

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 site’s 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 Google Analytics 4 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.

Launch FAQ

Do you have questions about the launch? We document some of the most common questions in our Launch FAQ.

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