University of Wisconsin–Madison

Prepare for Launch

Domain Name

Do you have a domain name for your site reserved? 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.

If this is a brand new site, we may have reserved a domain for you already. If you haven’t, please decide on what you’d like the domain to be and send a request to us via Domain Request Form.

If you are rebuilding an existing site, you already have a domain. If your 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 following KnowledgeBase document: https://kb.wisc.edu/page.php?id=70123.

Redirects

If you have an existing website that you’ve built out in WiscWeb, you will likely need some sort of redirects in place prior to the launch of your new WordPress site. We have a couple different options available:

  • 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 located here: https://kb.wisc.edu/wiscweb/page.php?id=73229.

  • Redirect All Requests to New Homepage

    We can set a redirect that takes any pages within your old domain (olddomain.wisc.edu/) to the homepage of your new site (newdomain.wisc.edu/). This is option is just fine but does not make the user aware that a site redesign has occurred, which is why a custom 404 message is recommended.

  • One-to-One Redirects

    In rare cases, it is necessary to set one-to-one redirects from your old site URLs to the new ones. For example, if the old page URL was http://olddomain.wisc.edu/page.htm, we could set an automatic redirect to the new page URL of https://newdomain.wisc.edu/page/. If you’d like to explore this option, you will need to create a spreadsheet with the old URLs in one column and their designated WordPress URLs in the second column. This can be attached to the Launch Request 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:

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 prefer two weeks’ notice prior to a launch so that we have enough time to test things on our end. When you know the date and time you’d like to launch (either 10am or 2pm), please fill out our website launch request form:

Website Launch Request Form