If you’re looking to setup a WordPress website, you know there are quite a few steps which you need to perform. If you’ve got a number of projects going on simultaneously, you might easily get overwhelmed with the number of things which you’ll need to think about in order to have all bases covered.

That’s why we’ve written the Ultimate WordPress Checklist for setting up and launching a website!

Table of Contents

Hosting + Installation
Security Checklist
WordPress Configuration
Search Engine Optimization
Social Networking and Integration with 3rd parties
Performance Checklist
WordPress Testing
WordPress Launch Checklist

WordPress CheckList: Hosting + installation

We’ll start our WordPress checklist with the bare essentials. Preparing the hosting space and infrastructure for your site.

Buy or get the details of the domain you will be using to host the site. You should at the very least have access to change the name servers of the domain. You’ll need these details when you come to launch the site.

Make sure the hosting company you will be using meets the minimum WordPress hosting requirements.

Buy or get the hosting details where the site will be hosted – you should have details to access a CPanel for hosting the site.

Find the details to open a support call – you might need it when configuring the site.

Create and set up all the details for a new domain in your hosting cPanel. Take note of all passwords created during the setup. DO NOT reuse passwords from other sites. Take note of the following details

FTP or Subdomain username

Domain password

Create and set up new database in cPanel. Do NOT reuse existing databases for new WordPress installations

Create a new database user in CPanel. Take note of these details. DO NOT reuse database users and DO NOT reuse passwords.

Database name

Database user

Database password

Database server address

Grant access to the newly created user to the newly created database. You should use a different user for each WordPress installation that you have.

Setup a new email address on the domain for use with the WordPress installation. Take note of the password of the email address and the mail server location. You’ll need them if you want to setup email sending and receiving through Gmail or otherwise.

Record new domain and database information into tracking software (notes in BeeWits are perfect for storing database details)

Upload the WordPress files to the File Manager. Keep the files compressed (it will take less time to upload). You can then uncompress them via File Manager.

If you want your WordPress install to be in the root folder, upload to the domain folder you have created. If you plan to have something else at the root domain, and you need to have the WordPress install in a sub-folder (e.g. www.domain.com/blog), create the subfolder e.g. blog and upload to it directly

Run WordPress installation. You’ll be able to access your install by running it on the temporary URL provided by your hosting.

Make sure you do not use ‘admin’ as the username for the administrator account as this is a security risk – because it is easy to guess. Use something which is easy to remember but hard to guess. If you site is a blog about food, name it foodieadmin or something along those lines.

Make sure the admin account has a strong password which you store in something like LastPass ONLY! Make sure you don’t reuse the password in other places. This would refer that password unsafe to use.

Login to the WordPress administration screen using your admin credentials. The WordPress Login URL is http://<your temporary URL>/wp-login.php

Go to Settings > General settings  and make sure that the WordPress Address and site address are the way you would like them to be. You might want to add www, or https if your site is going to be hosted on a secure server

Confirm that the rest if the settings such as Timezone, Membership, and other settings are as you would like them to be (Settings > General)

Setup or confirm your site name and site tagline. These are quite important for SEO purposes to choose wisely (Settings > General).

Setup Ping services to increase traffic to your site each time you publish a new post. If you have an Update service you want to use, set it up in the Writing settings (Settings > Writing). There is a list of common Update Services on the WordPress codex.

Set the Media or Uploads path. By default, all images on WordPress are uploaded into year and month folders. If this makes it difficult for you to find image files, you can untick the checkbox in (Settings > Media)

Delete sample content. By default there is a default post and default comment. You may want to delete these.

WordPress Security Checklist

Next on our WordPress checklist is securing your WordPress website. After all of the long hard work you’ve put into designing a site and creating all of the content necessary to support it, you’ll need to make sure the site has been fully secured. These steps in our checklist ensure that your site has been secured.

Enable WordPress autoupdates.

Update the unique authentication keys and salts of your WordPress installation. These keys make it more difficult to guess the passwords of your website. Generate a set of secret here: https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/ and then update your wp-config file with the secrets keys which were generated for you.

Secure the wp-config.php. If your shared hosting server supports .htaccess files, you may deny access to wp.config through the following commands at the top of the file

Remove WordPress version. You can either use a plugin or a simpler way to do this is to insert a small function into the functions.php file

Limit brute force login attempts. Some scripts will hammer your Administrative backend with repeated attempts to login with common passwords to try to get access to the backend. Prevent this by installing the Login LockDown plugin. This will disable the ability to login after a few failed attempts to login.

Check and enable comments settings (if you would like commenting to be enabled)

If you have enabled commenting, you’ll need to protect from comment spam – Akismet is the easiest way to do this

Enable a WordPress backup plan – if the brown stuff hits the fan, you want to make sure you’ve got a fallback plan

Install a firewall to help protect from malicious bots, scripts and attacks. There are various options in this regard

iThemes security is a great all in one security plugin

WordFence is another option for securing your WordPress site

Another option is to enable a WAP (web application firewall) such as ModSecurity which is open source. Ask your hosting server, this might already be enabled on shared hosting servers

WordPress Configuration Checklist

The configuration of your site’s structure is one of the most important parts you need to do to complete the WordPress checklist. Of course, this is mostly up to the needs of the website and there is little guidance that we can give you there.

Plan your WordPress website’s hierarchy – if you want to give your users a positive user experience, whilst also boosting SEO of your site, you should start with a logical hierarchy for your site. The ideal way to create a hierarchy in WordPress is of course using categories. Create categories of posts which you plan to have. Your categories should help define what your website is about. You can think of it like “Chapters” in your website’s story. This is extremely important for ranking in search engines  (see later)

Add a contact page or Contact Us form – what’s the purpose of a website if your customers can’t easily get in touch with you? Your contact form should have the following as a minimum

Be easily accessible from most pages (link in header or footer)

Relay enough information from the customer to be able to answer their query

It should not ask for any non-essential information

Instil a sense of trust in the company ideally by showing the team and having some personality in the contact page

Show any additional contact options such as phone, address and social media

Add other essential, ancillary pages

About Us – a detailed overview of the company. This should contain enough information for somebody to become familiar with the company and what it is all about

Create a Privacy Policy page – A privacy policy is legally required. It is absolutely necessary to state if collect any kind of information about your users (even as simple as website analytics) – it explains what you will do and not do with that information.

Create a Terms and Conditions page – this will limit your liability, set the copyright of the website, set the governing law for the website, and reference the privacy policy you will be governed by

Add your sales, product or service pages. The pages can be either an integral part of the WordPress theme you chose (see next section), or you can consider a plugin which allows you to create sales focused landing pages

Generate an XML Sitemap for the site

Submit the default RSS feed to Feedburner to know who is subscribing to your site through RSS. Of course make sure you display the RSS icon with the correct link.

Create a custom 404 page for those times when your user can’t find what they need. Make sure you include a call to action such as Contact Us to find what you’re looking for

WordPress Theme Configuration Checklist

Choose, install and configure a WordPress theme. This of course is not as simple as it sounds. You’ll need to find something which is suitable for your industry. Choose a theme which is fully responsive.

Create a child theme before doing any CSS changes. This makes sure that when you update your theme, you don’t lose any customization you’ve done

Update the theme with your logo or the logo of the customer

Configure the menus necessary for this site

Configure any WordPress widgets necessary

Test whether your theme looks good with the most comment WordPress content using the standard WordPress test content (http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Unit_Test)

Test for responsiveness and mobile support (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/)

Link the logo of your company to the homepage

Set a favicon for your site. As a minimum you can create a Favicon using Dynamic Drive favicon generator and upload it to the root folder of your site as favicon.ico

WordPress Search Engine Optimization Checklist

Search Engine Optimization for a WordPress site is an ongoing thing. It’s starts from WordPress onpage SEO and ends with link building – getting people to actually link to your site and content. However, there are some WordPress checklist essentials which you need to make sure you are doing. If you want to learn even more about WordPress SEO you can Get your WordPress site SEO ready with these tips.

Make sure you are not discouraging search engines from indexing your site (Settings > Reading > Search Engine Visibility). Make sure it’s turned OFF

Enable search engine friendly permalinks – (Settings > Permalinks > Post name) is ideal because it includes the keywords you use in your post titles as part of the URL of the post

Install an SEO plugin. Recommended plugin choices for doing a lot of SEO related functions are Yoast and SEO Ultimate.

Generate an XML sitemap

Login to Google Search Console and verify your website

Login to Bing WebMaster tools and verify the website

Check for any errors and messages Google is highlighting and make sure you fix them

Submit the XML sitemap to the Google Search console

Submit the XML sitemap to Bing WebMaster tools

Use correct headings within your content – organize titles and headings according to the structure of your posts and the keywords you want to target for seo

All pages and posts should have unique titles with 70 characters or less

All pages and posts should have unique meta descriptions with 156 characters or less

Use two-fold headlines to improve the number of keywords you are targeting

Set post titles and descriptions manually – focus on making them not only keyword rich, but most importantly user-friendly, and ideally focused to attract users to click to your posts.

Make sure your WordPress site is fast

Make sure your WordPress website is mobile friendly

WordPress Social Networking + Integration Checklist

A WordPress Checklist for setting up a website cannot be complete if it does not include supplementary services such as social networking sites and other tools which need to be integrated. Here are the things you want to consider.

First and foremost – you should implement a Social Sharing plugin. SumoMe is great because it’s enables non-intrusive, light share buttons which do not require a plugin. You only need to add a simple script to your WordPress theme

Twitter Integration

Implement Twitter Cards for your WordPress website – this allows your posts to look better when they are shared on Twitter. Specific SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO and SEO Ultimate implement Twitter Cards

Customize your Twitter Social profile to the look, feel and branding of your website. Twitter Recommends a Profile Header size is 1500px by 500px, whilst the profile picture should be 400px by 400px

If you’d like to push posts to Twitter automatically – you might consider installing WP to Twitter

Facebook Integration

Implement Open Graph (or OG tags) for your WordPress website – these are supported by Facebook, and will show the correct title, image and other details for your post when sharing to Facebook. Yoast and SEO Ultimate both implement Facebook open graph tags correctly – so you might want to consider implementing one of these plugins

Customize your Facebook page to the branding of your website. The Facebook cover photo recommended size is 851px by 315px, whilst the profile picture is 180px by 180px

If you would like your WordPress posts to automatically get published to your Facebook page, you might consider installing the official WordPress Facebook plugin. You’ll need to have created a Facebook application for your website

Mailing List Integration

One of the primary aims of your website should be to collect leads. The most efficient and effective way of keep potential leads coming back to your website is to collect email addresses. Using an email address, you can keep potential clients interested with targeted content. An essential part of developing a website should be thus – a means of collecting email addresses

Register with a mailing service for use with your website

Implement a newsletter component with a widget which suggests users subscribe to your newsletter.

An even more powerful way to collect email address is to create a popup with a Lead Magnet – offer something targeted to your client in exchange for their email address

SumoMe ListBuilder is an excellent way of picking up email addresses. Make sure you have a powerful lead magnet – something essential to your visitors. Something they can’t do without.

Analytics, Monitoring and Uptime Integration

Add Google or any other Analytics to the theme

Add Monitor.us or Pingdom uptime monitoring service to ensure you get notified if your website experiences downtime

Add HotJar to see what your visitors are up to in real-time using recordings, HeatMaps and other visitor insights

WordPress Performance Checklist

Performance is something which you need to take a deep hard look at and should be considered a full phase by itself. We’ve got a specific post on how to Make WordPress fast in 8 simple steps. We’ve also included the essentials steps in our WordPress checklist.

Cleanup any unused themes, plugins or anything else which you will not be using

Install a WordPress performance optimization plugin such as W3 Total Cache or any other performance plugin which you prefer

Check how quickly your website loads and try to implement suggestions to make your website faster

Load time of your website should be 3 seconds or less

WordPress Testing Checklist

You may want to run website tests using the WordPress testing data – and check whether the posts pass all the recommended tests.

Run a few pages of the site through the W3C Validators to check for valid syntax. You should check using both the HTML validator and the CSS validator.

Check whether you left any broken links by mistake

Check whether your website has any accessibility problems, and fix them

Your website should look great all ALL browsers, not just the one you design it with. Check how your website looks on different browsers using browsershots.org. As a minimum you should test on the following browsers


Internet Explorer



Any other browser requested by your client

Your website should use a responsive theme which makes it look right on ALL sizes of devices. You should test on all of the following devices as a minimum

Extra Small devices (smart phones)

Small devices (phablets and tablets)

Medium devices (Laptops and small screens)

Large devices (Large screens)

Make sure you have removed any dummy text such as any Lorem Ipsum text

Proofread the content of the site for any spelling and grammar errors. Spelling mistakes and grammatical problems will leave a very bad impression on your visitors. Proofread multiple times, by different people.

Make sure all contact details are correct throughout the site

Check that images are formatted correctly and have been optimised for speed

Check that audio and video items are correct

Check that any assets such as PDFs are correctly linked. Text assets should also be thoroughly proofread too.

Any old website URLs which are still sending traffic should be 301 redirected to new versions of the pages

Any images, files, fonts, themes and other content should be properly licensed. Licenses should be properly stored to ensure they are accessible in case of disputes.

Website Functionality Checklist

Verify that all forms are working and submitting any data correctly

Contact forms should be tested to check that they are sending to the correct email address

Test for forms displaying a correct message after submission and redirecting to the correct page if necessary

Check that any form or email autoreplies are working correctly. Text within the autoreplies should have been proofed with all website texts

Check that all sharing icons are working correctly

If you’ve enabled posting to social networks, verify that posting is working ok, especially the Featured images and texts on the different social networks

WordPress Checklist: Launch

Change DNS on domain to your hosting’s nameservers. Wait some time for the name servers to propagate – check the propagation on WhatsMyDns

View site to check for any obvious problems

Check the site on the new domain to make sure that everything is showing correctly

Check links to make sure they are referencing the correct domain

Pat yourself on the back – your new site is up and running!

Post Launch Checklist

Add the website to your portfolio

Setup a retainer with the client for maintenance updates

Take a backup of the development site

Clean up your development server and archive the development site backup

That should be quite a comprehensive WordPress checklist for you. We tried to cover most essential stuff, we’d be happy if you could point out missing steps. We’ll gladly add them to make this checklist even more complete.

Get in touch with your suggestions below.

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