A single bug on your website can not only frustrate your visitors, but it can stop them from returning.

Testing your website thoroughly is the only way to ensure what you have built, works properly. And that it is up to the standards you were originally working towards. However, it can be easy to overlook important aspects when testing a website.

Follow these steps and avoid some common mistakes:

Testing across multiple browsers

Many people are loyal to a particular browser, and when testing a website they will carry out all their testing on that browser. However, it is common for website issues to be 'browser-specific', meaning bugs will appear in some browsers but not in others. For your website to work correctly for the majority of users you must test using multiple browsers, on Mac and PC, and on multiple devices. There are tools available that let you do this online. A tool we use for testing websites is Browser Stack. Browser Stack will give you “Instant access to all desktop and mobile browsers”.

Creating lots of sample content

Often, sample content will be added to a development site to assist in the design and layout of the pages. However, this sample content is often only enough to fit neatly with how the website has been designed. To really test the functionality of a website, you should add as much test content as you can. Only then will you be able to see if there are hidden bugs in the site’s design or functionality. For example, you could test a site by adding images of varying sizes, product titles of varying lengths, and content with unusual formatting and varying lengths.

Documenting bugs and re-testing thoroughly

Even the most experienced web developers can sometimes produce a flawed website, and it is part of the development process to track these issues and work them out. If you are not tracking issues correctly, things can become difficult to manage. Every bug should be reported and recorded in one place. It should have a unique identifier, a date it was identified, and a full description of the problem, including screenshots where necessary. It is important to include details of the latest status of an issue. For example, whether it has just been identified, has been fixed, or has been retested. This will give you a clear overview of how many outstanding bugs are currently on your website. At OH! Media we use GitHub for tracking issues throughout the development process. It is especially handy when working with teams.

When re-testing an issue, it is a mistake to simply retest that aspect of the website to check that the single bug has been fixed. Anytime a new version of a website is released with changes, a single bug fix could cause a 'snowball effect' on other parts of the website. Your testing should be thorough enough that it incorporates wider areas the website, even when you are testing for a minor bug fix.

Testing the user flow

User flow, also referred to as a user path, or user journey, is a path that the user is likely to take when visiting your website. It will consist of a step-by-step list of pages and buttons they must select to achieve a certain goal. For example, that goal might be to find out some information, book an event, or purchase a product.

It is important when testing a website to follow several user paths, because this method closely mimics the actual behavior of your customers. By carrying out testing in this way you can check that your customers will be able to do exactly what they set out to do when they first visit your website. This will avoid the problem of customers finding a glitch that prevents them from carrying out their task. If that happens, they will rarely return.

Conclusion

Testing is a vital part of launching any website, and by following these steps you can help avoid losing your customers.

Written By: Scott Whitehead