Building and running a WordPress website includes many tasks, so we compiled this WordPress checklist so you don’t forget a thing. From setup to launch to maintenance, this checklist is a handy reference for your current website or your next WordPress website project.

wordpress checklist

WordPress Setup Checklist

First things first. This first WordPress checklist will help you start out on the right foot when you start to create a WordPress website.

  • Purchase a domain name.
  • Purchase a hosting plan from a reputable hosting company that specializes in WordPress hosting.
  • Install the latest version of the WordPress software on your server.

Basic WordPress Development Checklist

The following developer WordPress checklist is a brief starting point. While there are a number of specific tasks that have to be done, everyone has their own way of doing things. Add to this list as you develop your own workflow.

  • Set up new domain in cPanel
  • Set up new database and user in cPanel
  • Record new domain and database information into tracking software
  • Change DNS on domain to the correct name servers
  • Set up a WordPress staging environment
  • Clone WordPress if tweaking an existing site
  • Delete existing website files
  • Remove the WordPress default content like the Hello, World! post.
  • Delete the wp-config-sample.php file.
  • Install a WordPress theme.
  • Install necessary WordPress plugins.
  • Create a sitemap.
  • Create a 404 page.
  • Add any additional Admin users.
  • Add a favicon.
  • Add alt tags to all website images.
  • Combat Spam. (We suggest saving time using the plugin Aksimet)
  • Set up a contact form.
  • Update your user profile.
  • Make sure the timezone is correct.
  • Start tracking metrics with Google Analytics.
  • Old website URLs are 301 redirected to new URLs
  • Add blog categories and remove the “Uncategorized” category.
  • Test website on multiple devices and browsers.
  • Test Everything!

WordPress Security Checklist

WordPress sites are often targeted by hackers and bots that can exploit some common default settings. Use the following WordPress Checklist to secure your site.

WordPress Backup Checklist

WordPress doesn’t have a built-in backup solution. You’ll need to use a WordPress backup plugin to backup your site’s database and files. This WordPress checklist is specific to BackupBuddy.

  • Install a WordPress backup plugin like BackupBuddy.
  • Run a manual backup to backup your entire WordPress installation, including the WordPress database, all files, themes, plugins, media library, etc.
  • Download the backup zip file of your WordPress website.
  • Set up remote destinations for your remote WordPress backup storage to store your WordPress backups safely off-site.
  • Set up automatic WordPress backup schedules so your backups run automatically.
  • Enable Stash Live for real-time, cloud-based WordPress backups.

Use a step by step guide for how to backup a WordPress site.

WordPress SEO Checklist

Don’t skip out on a good SEO strategy for your WordPress site. A website is only as good as its SEO strategy. Well-executed SEO is the difference between 500 and 10,000 daily visitors.

  • Install a WordPress SEO plugin like Yoast.
  • If you’re new to SEO, review this free SEO training and basics of SEO for WordPress.
  • Make sure all pages and posts have a unique title, fewer than 70 characters
  • Make sure all pages and posts have unique meta descriptions, fewer than 156 characters
  • Make sure all pages and posts have fewer than 10 keywords that appear in page copy
  • Build first sitemap and ping search engines
  • Connect Google Analytics
  • Add Google Analytics Tracking ID to iThemes Builder settings
  • Activate Google Analytics Dashboard for WP and add Tracking ID
  • Connect Google and Bing Webmaster tools
  • Confirm permalink settings are not Default for SEO purposes
  • Make sure there is only one <h1> tag and that it contains the page keyword.
  • All images have alt tags with appropriate keywords.
  • Use external and internal links in the content.

General WordPress Checklist

This checklist is a sort of catch-all list with things you should double check and steps that may not have a specific category to fall in.

  • Remove all Lorem Ipsum text
  • Test your website on all supported browsers.
  • Proofread site copy for grammar and spelling errors
  • All links are working correctly
  • 404 page is created or customized
  • Be sure all required licenses for images, fonts, plugins, etc. are on file
  • Confirm client Gravatars are set up for their email address
  • Change the site tagline
  • Images are correct and have been optimized for the web (resize all large images)
  • Responsive design tested at standard phone & tablet sizes
  • Website favicon is working
  • Header (or company logo) is linked to home page
  • Page load time is 3 seconds or less
  • All external hyperlinks open in a new tab
  • Social Media sharing and links are working
  • All forms are correct and submit to appropriate locations
  • Confirm admin email address is correct
  • Confirm time zone is correct

WordPress Launch Checklist

Making a launch checklist allows us to offload the job of remembering a ton of tiny details (all those mental “notes”) and free up mental “RAM.”

  • Follow the previous checklists to make sure all setup, development, backup, security, SEO and general tasks have been completed.
  • Turn on Site Visibility in Settings > Reading
  • Check for broken links on links and redirections
  • Make sure default/Lorem Ipsum content has been deleted
  • Confirm contact form is working and notifications are set up
  • Share your site on social media

WordPress Maintenance Checklist

It’s important to maintain your WordPress site by adding new content and keeping WordPress, plugins and themes updated to the latest version.

  • Use a WordPress maintenance tool like iThemes Sync if you’re managing multiple WordPress sites.
  • Run core WordPress updates
  • Update plugins
  • Update theme
  • Create website backups
  • Secure WordPress website
  • Improve SEO

WordPress Tools to Simplify Your Life

A WordPress backup plugin like BackupBuddy is a great tool that allows you to create backups and migrate your client sites from a development site to the live site, it also allows you to create scheduled, automatic WordPress backups.

A WordPress security plugin like iThemes Security simplifies security in a number of ways. With settings for things such as WordPress brute force protection, strong password enforcement, and database backups, you are able to help secure your client’s site for an extended time period with only having touched it once.

Of all the tools you can use to ease your workload, a WordPress maintenance tool like iThemes Sync is one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Instead of logging in to each site individually, you have one place to view and install available updates. Sync was made to manage multiple WordPress sites. If you’re building and maintaining sites for clients, you’ll love all the client-driven features.

Continue Building Upon This WordPress Checklist

Use this WordPress checklist as a starting point, but remember to make it your own. Build upon your checklist and write down everything you can each time you work through a process.

Check out these other WordPress checklists:

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