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There is a lot at stake when it comes to website testing, from the preservation of intellectual property to serving peak UX to gaining a competitive edge in SEO and traffic. For the sake of your enterprise, it is key to ensure at every step that things are going as they are meant to. To do so, business owners must know about website design testing.
Unfortunately, like a lot of fine details in web development, the testing stage is often overlooked during the design process. The result is a seemingly fine website which later turns out to have serious flaws that affect its performance or outlook. By the time the designer, site owner, or worst of all, the visitors discover these issues, it is already fairly late after release.
In this article, we shall discuss the necessity of website testing, what it entails, and how it is related to site maintenance.
Why Is Website Testing Vital for Businesses?
Every now and again, a user visits a service-based website on an online store expecting a great experience. What they end up with, however, is anything but that. Sometimes the screen is too slow to load, other times different characters like text or media fail to appear either at the right place or at all. Sometimes, the issues can be due to faults in plugins or server configuration.
Some issues are not necessarily due to technical errors, but just a matter of inconvenience. These include mobile optimization, multilingual capabilities, and other experience-based features that leave users wanting for more. All of these are the results of inadequate website development testing.
Shortcomings like these reflect poorly on a business website. And the fact that a little bit of patience and attention to detail can prevent these makes it all the worse. Websites with disheveled or incompetent design are less likely to enjoy traffic and conversions compared to well-kept pages that offer the same service.
This loss of traffic is bad enough on its own, until you realize that untested sites suffer in search rankings due to poor SEO as well. Hence, it is not just designers that must ensure testing before cutting the ribbon. The businesses themselves should stress the importance of double checking their site’s features and functionality.
How Web Creators Perform Site Tests
Top design agencies are well aware of the harm that hastily put together online businesses can suffer. For that reason, they spare no effort or expense guaranteeing comprehensive website testing.
There are countless examples of digital marketing and content creation firms, such we at WeLoveWeb, that treat the testing phase of development as a continuous process. There are different aspects to see to like ticking boxes in a checklist, and it involves perpetual upkeep so that customer complaints remain at a minimum.
The following is an outline of what the testing of business websites involves.
Starting the Review Process
After completing the project, it is not yet ready to be available to the public. First, there needs to be an internal review of its various capabilities and features. But for best results, the designers themselves don’t perform this assessment.
The reason is that they already know how everything should go, so relying entirely on their verification does make the review quite as authentic as it ought to be.
For this step, agencies should deploy an experienced team or staff member that was out of the loop for the website’s development. This provides seasoned and informed feedback on a site’s capabilities from an impartial observer.
Additionally, it also boosts the chances of pinpointing and taking care of previously unseen problems or implementing new, experience-boosting features.
Different Elements of Website Testing
Any fully functional website consists of a number of building blocks from the back to the front end. These include
- The professional layout
- User-friendly features
- Optimized code and media
- Performance, security, and compatibility features
To ensure that the overall process of website design tests goes without a hitch, it is imperative to focus on how each of these aspects pan out during the review phase. To do that requires dividing site testing into the following steps.
Assessing the Interface – Looks and Usability
It’s no secret that user impressions are the main driver of traffic for e-commerce websites. The more you provide site visitors with nifty features and facilities, the more likely they will be to return to your site and recommend it to others.
But merely juicing up your website with fun menus and graphics is just half the job. You need to then ensure that they work as they are meant to. This can be seen in two ways.
First, there’s the issue of aesthetics. If you have invested in quality images, site themes, fonts, and add-ons like menus, page redirects, animations, etc. it is important that they are free of issues or bugs. To do that you need to make sure that the coding is correct, and that errors don’t impede or mess up any of these things.
The other aspect has to do with a site’s usability. Again, the designers themselves know exactly what each button or link has to accomplish. But the public might still suffer form confusion with navigation or site use.
To negate this problem, you need to contact with professional testers to review the site. After the demo, see if they encounter any obstacle or fail to use the website to its full potential. If so, tweak your features and calls to action before repeating the process until you get to the ideal results.
Ensuring Peak Functionality and Performance
After initial website development testing, designers must contend with things that they cannot judge until after the initial assessment. First of all, they should check that the site’s features like buttons, email options, forms, booking plugins, and multilingual settings are working as they should.
After satisfying these concerns, next is the all-important step of ensuring smooth website performance. This means that, after adding all the graphics, widgets, and programming to the site, is there any negative effect that they are having on website speed?
This is important because slow web pages tend to lose visits with every delayed second. In e-commerce, that is unacceptable. Therefore, you need to verify that your site remains quick and responsive under loads without experiencing bottlenecks, crashing, or slowing down from the load of traffic, plugins, massive files, or poor programming.
So far, we have determined through tests how a site looks, works, and how fast it is. That is all well and good, but keep in mind that different factors affect how visitors can use your site. Specifically, you need to make sure that the site’s performance and usability on different platforms.
First of all, different operating systems can affect how a site is working, so you need to assess the aforementioned aspects on Windows as well as MAC and others. Plus, various browsers like Chrome, Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, or Opera can have distinct influences your pages too.
But most importantly, the type of devices that your clients are using matters significantly here. Mobile users make the bulk of commercial and non-commercial content consumers online. Yet they are the ones most likely to experience issues like slow site speeds or inadequate responsiveness compared to Desktop users.
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Not only is mobile-first design the future, but it is also the benchmark that Google now uses to rank websites. So after optimizing your site for smaller screens, perform thorough website design testing to ensure that these changes are meaningful.
Corporate websites are among the online properties that are most vulnerable to cyberattacks and malware. There is a lot at stake here, which is why reinforcing your website with proper SSL certification, encryption, and other safety features is critical.
But afterwards, designers must verify that these changes are proving effective by testing for breaches, scanning features, and risk evaluations. Ignoring this step could be disastrous for the business and an unflattering look for the developer involved.
Stages of Testing
As we stated earlier, website testing is a constant process. On that note, the task of testing in its entirety, while it can include many steps, has two main stages: mid-development and post-development (regression) tests.
Before making a site available to the public, it needs a complete overhaul once all the programming and extensions are in order. Therefore, at every stage of development, each change or new addition that the designer implements must eb analyzed for consistency.
Even after the site becomes live, everything we’ve discussed from functionality to security details require in-depth checking ahead of release. That way, both the site owners and its users will have minimal to no complaints once the website is available to the public.
Not all issues with how a site is working become apparent immediately. In fact, some errors or bugs in web performance and design materialize due to changes made long after a site becomes fully mature and freely accessible. The assessment of such changes and their impact through website development testing is known as regression testing.
In simple terms, you keep a list of all the tested potential or recognized issues with your site before publication. Then, you perform the same tests after a new change to see how the site is doing after an alteration or modification like the addition of media, plugins, or software updates.
There are normally three approaches in regression testing.
- Retest All: You rerun all the listed tests to ensure peak functionality. This is a complex but time-consuming and costly process, which is why designer must implement pre-existing mechanisms to perform it.
- Regression test selection: To save on costs, you select a few important tests rather than complete retesting. The selection is based on a collection of test cases, called a “suite”.
- Prioritizing test cases: Here, designers decide which cases in a suite are the most important for detecting site issues after a change. By including the most impactful cases, they then move ahead with testing.
Why Maintenance Matters
It’s easy to spot small, immediately visible errors when you’re in the mid-development stage of web design testing. But spontaneous or sudden errors are just the tip of the iceberg. Overtime, as a website gets visits and undergoes updates, it needs constant and proper maintenance to make sure that everything is in order.
There are different tasks that fall under maintenance, and creators must perform each of them at routine intervals depending on scale and urgency. For a site with significant traffic, the usual division of these tasks is as follows, along with some examples.
- Weekly Maintenance
- Assessing 404 errors.
- Fixing dead links.
- Testing and updating forms.
- Ecommerce function testing.
- Data backups.
- Purging spam or unwarranted remarks from comments sections.
- Full software updates.
- Monthly Maintenance
- Site speed analysis.
- Security scanning and testing.
- Monitoring website analytics.
- Revamping SEO features.
- Quarterly Maintenance
- External site review.
- Replacing outdated media or stale graphics.
- Adjusting alt text and meta information.
- Automated emails and notification testing.
- Display checks.
- Annual Maintenance
- Copyright details on site header and footer.
- Overall site assessment.
- Checking domain name.
- Complete overhaul of business strategies and site design for preventing stagnation.
Testing the Effectiveness of Maintenance
To make sure that your maintenance process works, you need to test it before adding it to the actual site. To accomplish that, you need to perform updates on a hosted copy of your site on various operating systems or browsers before trying them on the actual website. That is done through localhost services that your developer should know about.
Maintenance versus Regression Testing
In website testing, maintenance is a different process from regression tests of a completed website. In short, regression tests involve a lengthy and cyclic assessment of software after a change. Maintenance, however, involves actual changes to a website done to maintain or improve its usability.
For e-commerce ventures, making a good first impression is important for landing customers and business partners. While top-shelf web design can undeniably help you accomplish that, it must do a lot of heavy lifting to ensure success. During that, the presence of any avoidable issues that your designer failed to fix would be a colossal misstep.
For online stores and businesses everywhere, digital agencies are a blessing. But to really take advantage of their investment, they need to emphasize thorough and constant website design testing at every stage of development and after. Eventually, their efforts to appeal to their client and Google’s ranking mechanism will bear fruit.