Website Testing

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:

  1. HTML Code Validation

    Code validation is the task of checking the background coding of the design against the (X)HTML standard the web page is using.

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Using site speed in web search ranking April 9, 2010

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.

  1. 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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11 Responses to Website Testing

  1. timeshare relief Says:

    This was a great post. Website testing guidelines are all what we need. Thanks for posting this. This could really help us for our timeshare relief sites.

  2. satrap Says:

    Thanks for the post, good info. its hard to find useful information these days. every blog or site you go to is just copy posting the same old content just to be “blogging”. its refreshing to hear something different, no matter the topic. anyway thank you.

  3. San Diego Web Design Says:

    I agree with satrap! Some bloggers are just only copying the content and more often they are just rephrasing it for new one. But Google SERP has its own way to find this kind of bloggers.

    “Content is the King”

  4. web performance Says:

    Google have added a ‘Site Performance’ tool to Webmaster Central. I would recommend it to test and monitor the performance of your website. It also diagnoses issues and suggests improvements

  5. Get Your Ex Back Says:

    I love your blog lots of useful information. I’ve added it to my favorite bookmarks and subscribed in a reader.

    All these issues are important, and that’s why I just started blogging a while ago and it feels great.

    Regards
    Evelina W.

  6. logo design company Says:

    The good thing about your information is that it is explicit enough for students to grasp. Thanks for your efforts in spreading academic knowledge.

  7. Triad Business Brokers Says:

    Excellent post. We all could use some website testing guidelines to adhere to :)

  8. klaverjassen Says:

    Great posts! I have read most of you blog and I must say that I enjoyed it. Website testing guidelines are definitely something everyone needs.
    Cheers

  9. Paul Says:

    Good pointer on the loading speed of a web site. I’m not sure this will have a massive impact on your rankings unless you’re involved in some ultra-competitive markets. Sure, if you page takes 20 seconds to load because you’ve installed 20 WordPress plugins then nobody will hang around to see what’s there, no matter how good the content. A few seconds to load… I think most people will live with it. I’d be more concerned about Google watching you bounce rate.

  10. Coat Rack Says:

    I think website testing is probably one of the most underutilized aspects in trying to increase your conversion rates, overall it is much easier to make some changes on your website and increase your conversion rate then to increase your traffic. I also think your bounce rate is being watched by Google, your bounce rate can also be affected by your page load speed. As people will get back button after page does not load fast enough for them.

  11. Gus Says:

    I think maintenance testing is one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of testing. Most of the time this is where developers tend to let the side down.

    The link to the list of best practices from Google was pretty helpful. I had a quick read through it and although I was familiar with most of it, it was a great recap and reminder. Especially coming from the Big G themselves.

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