One thing that is certain about website creation is that no user wants to go to a site that gives them a bad experience. When a user encounters such a site, they will quickly turn away—causing you to miss out on converting that user into a regular site visitor.
In this article, we will take you from an absolute beginner level and transform you into a competent tester of website user experiences. We’ll give an introduction to website testing, and then talk about such topics as what to test, how to test it, what tools to use and how often to test. Let’s get started!
Why Is Website Testing So Important?
We all know it: Users have short attention spans. We are all guilty of this. Even the slightest glitch in the user experience journey can result in a user closing your tab in their browser and moving on to the next site. There’s a lot of data that backs this up, too.
Consider the following statistics from Sweor: 39% of users will abandon a website due to a poor user experience; 57% of users won't recommend companies to their friends that have websites that aren't mobile-friendly; 88% of users state they will not return to a website if they have a negative user experience.
What Are The Advantages Of Testing A Website?
Once we have tested our website for quality, we can expect a number of benefits. These benefits include:
• Attracting and retaining more users to the website.
• Improving users’ confidence and trust in your business.
• Ensuring users using a variety of devices can access your website.
• Increasing search engine optimization (SEO) and incoming links.
Guide To Website Testing
It's important to first determine what to test:
• Functionality: We need to be absolutely sure that all buttons, forms and links work as intended.
• Usability: We need to check if a website is easy to navigate and users can understand where important elements are located.
• Responsiveness: We need to make sure the website changes its layout based on the different screen sizes of desktops, tablets and smartphones.
• Speed: We need to confirm that the site loads as quickly as possible.
• Security: We need to ensure that data in transit is encrypted and sensitive information is hidden.
How Do We Test This?
For functionality testing, we want to see how links, buttons and forms perform. We can test these by answering the following questions:
• Links And Buttons: Do all the links and buttons take you to the right page?
• Forms: Do all the forms send the correct information?
Usability testing needs to confirm that important elements are easy to identify on the website’s pages. Look at the following elements and answer the questions about them:
• Navigation: Are important pages easy to get to?
• Content: Is the site’s text easy to read and presents accurate information?
Responsiveness testing confirms that the site will look good on any type of device. Answer the following questions in your testing:
• Devices: Does the content load correctly on all different device types?
• Orientation: Does the website adjust correctly when a user rotates the screen?
Speed testing verifies that the site loads within an acceptable time limit. Testing the loading times involves asking the following questions:
• Loading Time: How fast does it take the web page to download and be rendered on the screen?
• Rendering Time: How long does it take a dynamic web page to be assembled by the web server?
Security testing verifies that sensitive information is not exposed. Answer the following questions:
• Data Encryption: Does the site require data encryption in order to use?
• Password Masking: Are password fields masked with asterisk characters?
Tools And Techniques
Now that we know what to test and how we should go about it, we can start taking a look at the tools and techniques to use.
Functionality can be tested both manually or automatically. By doing a manual check, you can check each link, button and form to see that they work. This can be time-consuming and leaves room for human error, so an automated approach may be better. An automated approach uses a script or testing tool that can go through each link and see if the desired result is returned.
Usability is best tested by having target groups of users try the webpage and report on their findings. A survey can be used to get their feedback and any problem areas can be addressed after statistically analyzing the results. It’s also possible to use AI to help with this, although usability can be somewhat subjective, so human intuition is often better.
Responsiveness can be tricky to test because there are so many different devices out there. The best way to test this is by using a development environment that emulates different devices. A similar tool is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, where you can simply input your URL. Using these methods, you can see how the website looks on all sorts of devices from the comfort of your own system.
Speed can be tested in several ways. To see how long it takes your page to be created on the back end, you can check the settings of your particular platform and see if it can display those metrics. For the speed of downloading the page, a free tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights will show the delay it takes to load the page.
Lastly, security can be tested by checking for “HTTPS” in the URL instead of just “HTTP.” Make sure that there are no certificate errors when loading the page using HTTPS. Also, manually check that passwords use asterisks instead of displaying the actual password when typed in.
When To Test?
One more issue to consider when testing your website is how often testing should occur. We can consider three major time periods when testing is ideal: before launching a new website, after making significant updates and on a periodic basis for quality.
Anyone getting started with website testing should consider following the blueprint presented here to create a positive user experience.