April 17, 2015
Some quick tips and tutorials to get your Drupal site ready to go live.

So you’ve spent all this time designing and developing your Drupal website and now it’s ready to go live. Is there anything else you should do before uploading? Are you totally ready to go live? Take a look at this short list of items we’ve put together and be confident moving forward.

1. Turn off the theme registry rebuilding

Drupal automatically does a good job at constantly reminding you to turn this feature off once your site goes live but if you’ve been developing your website for a while it can be easy to overlook these messages. Turning it off is simple enough; from your administration menu navigate to Appearance » Settings » Your Theme. At the bottom of the page uncheck “Rebuild theme registry on every page.”

2. Do some basic SEO optimization

You don’t need to be a SEO expert to help users better find your website. Start by enabling clean URLs. Simply check the “Enable clean URLs” checkbox under Configuration » Search and metadata » Clean URLs.

Enable Clean URLs Drupal

Along with Clean URLs, you’ll want to install the Pathauto module. This module automatically generates your page URLs based on the content titles.  Simply enable this module and it should take care of the rest for you.

Next, install and enable the “Metatag” module. This will allow you to provide structured metadata, including the description meta tag and custom page titles. The steps for getting this module setup are slightly more complex but just read the module documentation.

Search engines need a sitemap to properly index your website pages. We find that the easiest way to accomplish this is by installing and enabling the “XML Sitemap” module. It’s pretty easy to use after you install it. Once installed, go to Configuration » Search and metadata » XML sitemap and create a sitemap for your website. Provide the sitemap URL to search engines to have your site indexed.

And most importantly, write good content. Content is king, after all. 

3. Minimize your CSS and Javascript files & Reduce your HTTP requests.

With so many people accessing web content via their phones these days, it’s a good idea to keep your file sizes to a minimum. In Drupal 7, there’s a pretty easy way to do this. Navigate to Administration » Configuration » Development and at the bottom of the page you’ll see two options: Aggregate and compress CSS files, and Aggregate JavaScript files. 

Aggregate and Compress CSS and JS files

Check both of these boxes. Both of these options will help reduce your page load time and HTTP requests. Alternatively, you can use CSS Minifier  to minimize your CSS and http://jscompress.com/ to compress your JS without aggregating. If you use either of the online options be sure to keep an uncompressed copy of your files for easy editing in the future.

4. Don't forget the favicon!

Nothing really ties in the whole website like the favicon icon used by browsers :) It’s something that is easily overlooked but is a part of branding your website. You can upload your favicon by going to your drupal (sub)theme settings and uploading your icon under “Shortcut Icon Settings”.

Favicon Drupal settings

 

5. Test, test and test some more.

This really goes for any type of website, Drupal or otherwise. With people using such a large array of different devices - small, large, old, new - it’s a good idea to test your website on as many devices as possible. If you built your website on a local server, you may also want to check and make sure all of your webforms are functioning properly once you upload your website to a live server.

6. Insert your Google Analytics script.

Part of having a successful website includes knowing your audience. Where do your users live? What pages are your users spending the most time on? Google Analytics provides a bunch of useful information that you can use to better tailor your website towards your target audience. There are a few ways to add analytics to your drupal site. We prefer the method of adding the analytics script directly to the footer template (region--footer.tpl.php) file. 

Google Analytics script

You’ll want to save this file in your templates folder (/sites/all/themes/your-sub-theme/templates) in your sub-theme. Go here to learn more about getting started with Google Analytics.

7. Disable unused modules

Often during the development phase of creating a website you’ll end up installing several modules, some of which are specifically used for development and some of which just don’t end up getting used.  Using a bunch of modules in your Drupal site can result in more memory being consumed, consequently slowing down your website performance.