Testing your website regularly is the only way to ensure it performs optimally, is usable, secure, stable and compatible with different devices. But as websites become more complex, so the different ways of testing your website become increasingly important.
Following are the five most common – and most useful – ways to test a modern business website so that it meets all the criteria above.
- Usability testing. This is the most common – but also most time consuming and hence costly type of testing, because it involves physical users testing a website to make sure it’s easy to use, logically designed, and makes sense to the type of user it’s aimed at. While there are different tools available to simplify the usability testing process, there’s no shortcut to getting real human feedback on performing the common types of tasks you expect your users to be able to perform on your website. Fail this test, and you can expect a raft of frustrated users calling your support desk.
- Functionality testing. Making sure your website is usable and intuitive is very different to ensuring its various functions and features work correctly. Clicking a button or link, scrolling through a list, or entering information on a form, are all functions that should produce a predictable result. Failure to do so means a broken or non-functional website. Thankfully there are many effective tools to automate this type of testing on most modern websites, so it’s not as labour intensive as usability testing.
- Performance testing. A usable, functional website is no good to your business if it’s slow, unresponsive or can’t cope with large numbers of customers accessing it at the same time. Performance testing takes many different forms, but at its simplest, is a good way of ensuring your website is as fast, stable and resilient as it needs to be, for both normal use and high-volume events.
- Compatibility testing. Websites don’t exist in isolation. They are online portals accessible around the clock from an ever-growing number of devices, and as such, need to be tested for usability, functionality and performance on all (or at least most) of these devices. As with functionality and performance testing, there are many good tools available that can automate compatibility testing, on physical and virtual devices, and the advent of stricter design standards has also ensures broader compatibility across devices that subscribe to those standards.
- Regression testing. Keeping websites usable, functional, fast and compatible is often complicated by new features and functions constantly being added, new databases being linked, or even new product types being sold. Any number of ongoing changes can break previously-working functions, slow a website down, or result in dead links that go nowhere. Regression testing, which can also be automated, is a good way to ensure existing functions are not broken. Regular usability testing is still necessary if large parts of the website are changed or the look and feel of the site is altered in any way.