There are many reasons to test websites, and some of them get overlooked in the rush to launch a new site or give it a refresh.
Sometimes little or no testing is done and this can have a big impact on how well received your new website is, how successful it becomes and whether it meets the expectations you had for it.
Testing your website is vital and here are 12 good reasons why:
1. To make sure your website works
Sounds obvious but there are often simple errors that are just not picked up before a website launches or even once it has been online for a while. Broken links, images not loading, search functions not working, forms not submitting correctly are all common problems that a little testing can find and iron out.
These basic quality errors can have a big impact on your business but are generally pretty straightforward to solve.
2. To check your website displays properly in each major web browser
Keeping up to date on the latest major web browsers and versions is important, as new browsers are released regularly and other browsers gain in popularity. Browsers use different rendering engines from one another that are used to display web pages and the same page can look quite different in 2 different browsers.
A quick check of your website in each major web browser can uncover issues that may be affecting a number of users. We’ve written about browser testing before in our website audits post on breaking down browser compatibility.
3. To check your website displays properly on each major mobile device
Mobile web browsing is increasing dramatically. It is now a necessity to make sure that your website can at least be viewed correctly on the main mobile devices even if you do not have a dedicated mobile version of your site.
Having an idea of how your website displays on each major mobile device will determine whether there is more work to do in order to make your site accessible on a mobile.
4. To check that your website complies with web standards
Web standards is a subject often discussed but there are benefits to be had from getting your site to comply with them.
For one, websites that pass HTML and CSS validation are generally displayed more consistently across different web and mobile browsers. This means less browser related problems and less frustration for your users.
Passing web standards also often means a more accessible, user friendly website and one that Google prefers and so it has a greater opportunity to rank better.
5. To check that your website is accessible
Accessibility has been back in the news again recently, as the RNIB is taking BMIBaby to court over the poor accessibility of its website. Despite receiving advice from RNIB on the issues that users were experiencing with the BMIBaby website, not enough progress has been made to make the website accessible to those using a screen reader or who are unable to use a mouse.
There are many tools to help with accessibility testing but you should also try using your website without a mouse, or with a screen reader or text browser to see if you can still carry out the actions that you expect. We covered auditing your website’s accessibility last year.
6. To test and monitor your website’s performance
We know that users do not like slow websites. We also know that Google isn’t keen on slow websites. Therefore, it makes sense to invest a bit of time and effort to check your website’s performance.
Your website’s performance isn’t just down to your hosting company. The way your website is coded, the graphics used and a number of other factors can all help to increase load times and slow your website down.
Running some performance checks can identify where precious seconds can be saved and give your users a better experience. Here are 13 website performance testing tools to get you started.
7. To gain important feedback on what users think of your website
Users are what websites are designed for. So gaining feedback from your target audience is vital for a successful website. Testing your users can find out what they like and what they find frustrating or even impossible regarding your website.
As few as 5 users can identify severe issues that, once overcome, will provide an improvement for your users and allow them to complete the actions that were frustrating them previously. You can start a user experience test straightaway with WhatUsersDo, a UK based usability testing firm.
8. To work out what converts mere visitors into something more
A common aspect of website testing is trying to improve your conversion rates through A/B or multivariate testing, which aims to gain more sales or enquiries from the same number of visitors.
This is achieved by testing different versions of your landing pages to determine which one converts best and then going with that version.
Regular testing of different promotions, button styles, page layouts, copy, images, forms with less fields, etc. can improve your conversion rates and help you to achieve more out of the same visitor levels.
9. To make sure your website’s SEO is correct
Issues for SEO can easily be introduced to a website without you realising. You can break links, create duplicate content, set up new pages without writing individual page titles, not update your site map and a number of other hidden problems. These only become apparent when you start to lose visitors to your site.
A regular check of all the main SEO aspects will keep everything ticking over and ensure search engines still appreciate your website.
10. To check that your Google Analytics is installed correctly
An installation of Google Analytics can often not be carried out correctly. Sometimes the code is missing from certain pages or cross domain problems are not dealt with properly. This can result in page views being inflated or deflated or bounce stats being incorrect.
An audit of your Google Analytics can uncover these problems so that you can ensure you are measuring your visitor statistics correctly.
11. To make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors
Nobody likes spelling errors when viewing a website, even minor ones. But when you’ve read every word on every page of your own site it can be hard to see the wood for the trees.
A regular spelling and grammar check across the whole of your website helps to eradicate any errors that creep in from time to time and make sure everything is double checked.
12. To ensure your website is secure
There are many unscrupulous individuals out there who like nothing more than exploiting your website by trying different ways to hack into it. They want to use your website or server for nefarious activities such as gaining access to your data or adding in code to your website to distribute viruses, link to other sites or even replace your site with their own (note – it will probably be a dodgy website).
Whether the method used is SQL injection or a cross site scripting attack it is worth a regular vulnerability scan to make sure you are not leaving yourself open to any such unsavoury behaviour.
Bonus Reason – To Make Your Website Work Better For You
By regularly testing all of the above aspects you can be confident that many of the areas that cause problems are being taken care of.
Testing and fixing issues improves the user experience and can be beneficial for your SEO, site performance and conversion rate, as well as complying with legislation, standards and making sure your site doesn’t get hacked into.
Overall, testing these aspects will make your website work better for your business.
Image used courtesy of Leo Reynolds