Going live! A Drupal checklist

Mark Pavlitski - Head of Development
Drupal Development

Drupal Development

So you're launching a new website or replacing an old one and want to make sure everything goes smoothly? This guide will give you a run-down of everything you can check to avoid common pitfalls!

Site status

You should always start by checking the status report (http://example.com/admin/reports/status). This page shows you all of the basic requirements for your Drupal site to run correctly.

Any issues will be highlighted in red and typically have a link to a configuration page or the documentation to help you resolve the problem.

Scheduled tasks

Drupal 7 will run scheduled tasks (known as cron jobs) out of the box, but only when users are visiting your site.

This is great for small sites which don't need much housekeeping, but if your site is a bit bigger or if you don't have visitors 24/7, you should set up a cron job to run periodically.

You can also look at a module such as Ultimate cron which gives you fine grained control over when each scheduled task will run.

Web services

Many web services such as Mollom or Google analytics need a domain name specific API key to use.

If you use any of these services on your website, you should ensure that you've registered your real domain name with the service and you've updated Drupal with your new API key.

Broken links

It can be easy when copying and pasting to accidentally link directly to a file or image on a development site.

These links can often stop working or perhaps worse, may direct users away from your live site and onto the development site instead.

You can use a module such as Link checker to ensure this doesn't happen, and it is good practice to password protect your development website, so that users (or more likely Google!) cannot stumble accross it.

Site optimisation

The site performance page (http://example.com/admin/config/development/performance) will allow you to configure a number of options to help optimise your Drupal site. This includes page caching and optimising CSS and JavaScript files.

See our series on High Performance in Drupal for some expert tips - High performance in Drupal Part 1: Give your site a boost and High performance in Drupal Part 2: Lightning fast code.

Development modules

Development modules such as devel can often reduce your website's performance, so it's worth turning them off on your live site. You can still keep them running in your development environment if needed.

User accounts

Many of us are guilty of using a common or simple password to make life easier when building a website.

Once the site is live, it's worth taking the time to update any administrative accounts with secure passwords.

It is also worth removing any unnecessary development accounts and content. Just in case.

Error messages

Being able to see debug messages and errors are handy when creating a site, but may scare off users once the site is live.

Ensure that errors and warnings are hidden by visiting the Logging and errors config page.

Site information

The site information config page holds all of the most common site information, such as the website name and email address.

It's worth double checking that all of this information is correct. It could be quite embarrassing if your first newsletter arrives from dev@example.com.

 

Some of these pitfalls can be avoided from the get go, if you follow a few simple principles. Check out Rick Donohoe's blog article Drupal site building 101 for some handy hints and tips on this!

Comments

Right on, Mark. Are you familiar with the QA Checklist[1] module? Maybe you'd have some feedback[2] on its contents. :) [1]: http://drupal.org/project/qa_checklist [2]: http://drupal.org/node/1645936

Thanks for that Mark :) I would just add to change the permissions on some txt files, specially CHANGELOG.txt on the root directory, which is telling to anyone which version of Drupal you are running. I would aswell double check that the email on admin/reports/updates/settings is correct, in order to get notifications for security updates for the contrib modules.

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