Documentation Launch Checklist

Launch Checklist

Overview #

Welcome to WordPress.com VIP Hosting! We believe that WordPress.com VIP is a partnership between WordPress.com and some of the most high-profile, innovative, and smart WordPress websites out there. We’re excited to have you here.

The following list provides general guidelines to launching a site on WordPress.com VIP. Please know that the guidelines may vary for your specific site.

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1. Kickoff call #

To get started, you’ll have a kickoff call with the VIP team, where you will establish your launch timeline and get access to all of your VIP Tools. If you have a large content migration, this is a good time to also begin planning your migration timeline.

Here’s a typical launch timeline:

  • 3 weeks: Your developers submit your theme for VIP Code Review. During this time, the VIP team will go through your theme line by line, giving you feedback on your code. Adhering to our Theme Review Guidelines and pre-auditing your code using our Code Review List can greatly speed up your review time.
  • 2 weeks: Your team works on fixes based on code review. This time can vary greatly depending on what recommendations are made during code review.
  • 1 week: Content Migration and User Creation
  • 1 week: QA and final cleanup
  • Launch!

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2. Get acquainted with documentation and plugins #

You and your development team should explore our Documentation site and get familiar with coding for WordPress.com VIP. Good pages to focus on:

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3. Send us the list of plugins you’d like to use #

WordPress.com has hundreds of features built right into the platform which would normally require plugins for self-hosted sites (self-hosted sites can use these features via the Jetpack plugin). WordPress.com VIP sites have access to dozens of pre-approved, shared VIP Plugins.

By sending us a list of plugins you intend on using, we can help map your site’s needs to existing features or plugins, suggest more performant alternatives, or flag issues with proprietary plugins if no alternatives exist.

If you are interested in using a plugin that isn’t available as a pre-approved VIP shared plugin, we will review it for stability, performance, and security before it can be used on WordPress.com. The plugins must fit within our recommended plugin guidelines for the safety, security, and scalability of your site.

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4. Set up your WordPress.com site #

Set up a free site on WordPress.com, prefixing the subdomain with your company name (example: nbcsitename.wordpress.com). Be sure to mark the site as private. The WordPress.com subdomain you create will only be shown in the dashboard – since we’ll be mapping your domain, your visitors will see your branded/official URL. Once you’ve set up the site, let us know via VIP Support and we will mark it as VIP, which will enable the VIP Dashboard and VIP privileges for the site. When your theme is reviewed and ready for production, we will enable the theme on this site as well.

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5. Submit your theme for Code Review #

During the code review process, our engineers review your theme line by line, seeking out security holes and optimizations. It’s important to note that this process can take 10-15 business days, so please plan for this time in your project schedule. Before submission, it’s essential that your development team has read our Code Review document and check their code for Blockers. And, if they have any questions, please encourage them to open up a ticket. We are always happy to help answer questions.

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6. Start adding users to your site #

Once your WordPress.com site is set up, you can start adding users to your site. Each user will have a WordPress.com account to access the dashboard. If there’s a small amount of users (15-20), you may want to add them yourself. If it’s a large amount of users, we can help add them for you. More information on adding users here.

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7. Get ready for content migration #

As you’re ramping up towards launch, you’ll want to plan out when you will begin importing content. For small migrations (less than 15MB), you can use the Import Tool in your dashboard to complete the import. For larger migrations, we may help you bring in the content, but it should be converted into a WXR format first. More information here.

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8. Get your developers access to your code #

We review every line of code that gets committed to your site for security and performance before deploying (with the exception of CSS, which gets deployed instantaneously). Roughly 90 percent of commits are deployed within 2 hours.

After your theme has been reviewed, your developers will be able to use their WordPress.com username and password to access the code for the theme using subversion. To get access, your developers must put in an SVN Access Request through the VIP Dashboard.

If you are working with a Featured Partner, this step will not be necessary as they will already have SVN Access.

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9. Mapping Your Domain and Managing DNS #

Roughly two weeks prior to launch, you’ll want to get in touch with us about mapping your domain. Typically, you’ll send us your domain’s ZONE files, which we will mirror. Once that’s all set up, we’ll tell you to point your nameservers to WordPress.com, and since we’ve mirrored the ZONE files, everything will stay the same.

It’s very important to have the nameservers switched 1-2 weeks before launch (if using the WordPress.com nameservers) to ensure a smooth transition.

If you are required to host DNS elsewhere, please make sure your DNS host can support multiple A records.

On your launch day, we will update your site’s entry to point to your new site. Technical details and step-by-step list here.

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10. Launch! #

At this point, your theme be approved and enabled on your site, your users activated, your data migrated, and your nameservers pointing to WordPress.com. In the week before launch you’ll want to communicate the exact launch time you are looking at so that we can help flip the switch and make sure developers are around for any last-minute needs.

Here’s a typical launch process:

  • Notify VIP Team: Communicate to the VIP team early your anticipated launch date. Our preferred launch days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Since launch times and dates tend to shift, roughly 30 minutes before launch open an urgent ticket with the VIP team to let them know you’re ready to go.
  • Set your site as public: It’s very likely you set your site to “Private” before launch. Be sure to set your site to public so that your visitors can access it! Also, make sure that your robots.txt file is listing the correct records.
  • Point to WordPress.com: If we are hosting your DNS, we will do this for you. If you are hosting your DNS, you will have to do this to launch. Please be sure to confirm these changes with your IT team ahead of time. More information.
  • Set your primary domain: Navigate to VIP > Domains in your dashboard and set up your Primary Domain. This will make the correct custom domain displays to users. Verify that legacy redirects working as expected.
  • Keep in touch: If there are any issues, please open an urgent ticket and we will assist immediately.