Whether you author a blog, own a website, are a web designer or are a web developer website testing is a must. This testing goes beyond initial testing when the blog or website is launched, it needs to be an on going maintenance task.
The website or blog does not have to be live to test it.
Static HTML Website Testing
A static HTML website can be tested from your computer by double clicking the web page file on your computer which will open the web page in your default browser.
Blog and Dynamic Website Testing
For a blog or dynamic website, you can download and install WampServer locally to run an Apache server with PHP and MySQL on a Windows machine. If your application requires a Windows server then you can install Microsoft’s IIS server locally. Note: If you are running XP Pro, the ISS server comes with this operating system, you just have to install it.
Web Space Website Testing
A third way to test the web pages is to set up a test area in your web space. You have to add instructions to your robots.txt file asking the search engine bots to stay out of this folder, so your test version is not indexed. The other alternative to robots.txt instructions is to password protect the folder.
So there you have 3 ways to conduct your website testing without launching first.
Website Testing As the Website/Blog is Built
As the website or blog is built there are various things to perfom website testing in the initial development stage:
- HTML Code Validation
For a standard HTML website this can be done from your computer without the web page being uploaded to the web server. Just go to the W3C Validation Service and upload the page from your computer to the service, click the Check button and the validator will give you feed back complete with line number of any coding errors contained in the page.
A blog or dynamic website can also be checked before launch by building the template as an HTML file first, validating the coding then converting this template into the programming required for the website or blog.
Cleaning up coding errors so the web page uses standard compliant coding will make it easier for the search engine bots and those using assistive technology to surf the web to access the web page and eliminate coding issues as the cause of a cross-browser compatibility issue.
- CSS Code Validation
CSS (Cascading Stylesheets) are files or coding which format the look of the web page. CSS code validation is where the CSS (Cascading Stylesheets) coding is checked for errors.
This can be done from your computer without uploading to the web.
Go to the W3C CSS Validation Service, upload the file to the service, click Check and you will get a report back on the screen with any errors or warnings noted.
- Screen Resolution
What some designers forget is that not everyone has the same screen resolution. Each design needs to be tested in various screen resolutions to make sure that the web pages work in the different screen resolutions the target audience uses, not what the web designer or you use.
- Alt Attribute
Ensure that each image has an alt attribute. This is required if you are using XHTML coding. The alt attribute also adds to the search engine optimization of the web page, is shown when your images are taking too long to load, is shown in place of the image if the website visitor has images turned off and adds to the accessibility of the web page.
- Correct Colour Contrast
Using the correct colour contrast between the elements of the web page can make the difference between the website visitor staying for 2 seconds or staying and actually reading your web page. For example, if there is not enough colour contrast between the background oolour and text colour, it will be difficult to read the web page.
- Font Size
Selection of the correct font size for the targetted audience can be a bit challenging. Using a flexible font size will overcome this problem as the user can adjust the font size to suit their needs.
- Uncommon Font(s)
If you are into graphics or have an Office suite installed you may have font families that are not on every computer. There is also a difference between what fonts are installed on a Windows machine and a Mac. Limiting your font family choice to a selection that is available on most machines stops the user’s machine subsituting a differnt font when your chosen one is not available.
- Text Alignment
Text alignment on the web is different than in print. You have no control over how your web page will look in each browser, on each monitor nor in each operating system.
- Heading Hierarchy
Heading hierarchy is just as important on the web as it is in print. Proper heading structure helps your visitors scan the page, adds to the search engine optimization of the page and adds accessibility to the page.
- Browser Specific Design
Browser specific design is where the web page layout only works for certain browsers. Limiting your visitors to only those who use a specific browser cuts out a whole group of visitors that could spend money or improve your website’s popularity.
- Custom Error Pages
What happens when custom error pages are not included is that the web hosting company serves up their stock error pages. This is confusing to your site visitors because they don’t understand what happened. The 404 error page is the most used error page but you should create a custom error page for each error that might happen on your website.
- Website Navigation
Take a moment or two to review your website navigation system. A consistant and user friendly website navigation system will add to the usability and search engine optimization of your webiste.
- Search Engine Friendly Design
Does the website template use a search engine friendly design? Are the search engine bots going to see the important content on the web page first? or a bunch of links?
So we have ended up with quite a list of things to check when performing your website testing. If your site includes any programming (e.g. an ecommerce site) this should also be tested extensively
Website Speed Testing
Website loading speed has always been an important factor. If your site loads slowly the visitor isn’t going to wait, they will just move on.
Your website load speed is even more important as of April 9, 2010:
You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.
Although this announcement is regarding general search, site speed has been a factor for AdWords clients for some time. Google has had this on their Web Performance Best Practices page for some time also.
As the website or blog is built testing the download speed during it’s construction is important to avoid having to rethink the features included and having to work through how to improve the download speed overall.
Maintenance Website Testing
Once the website is up and running you need to do website testing as part of your maintenance program.
- Link Checking
Over time some of the links you have included in your web page content may change or become what are called dead links.
Link checking consists of checking all the links within your website/blog. This includes the links within your website as well as any external links you have. Each broken link needs to be corrected.
As you can see from reading this article, website testing is an on going task. It is not just limited to the development and launch stage, you have to continually perform website testing to keep your website/blog in tip top shape.
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