If there was only one single piece of advice we could give you for building and launching your new website, it would be this:
Take nothing for granted.
Just because something should look, or function, a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to.
Just because my site looks a million dollars when viewed on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, that doesn’t mean Safari is going to load it the same way. Nor we should assume that just because we find it easy to log on to my site and use all its features, doesn’t mean my customers are going to enjoy the same way.
Perhaps they naturally navigate the site in a way we hadn’t thought of, or come up stuck at a point we assumed would be pretty straightforward.
I$ t’s for the reason that, once you’re convinced you’ve done as much work on building your website as possible, there’s one more critical step that you should take before unleashing it out onto the world. And that, of course, is the testing stage.
We’re not just talking a quick once-over here, either. To really ensure that a site works perfectly and can be used quickly and simply by even the most novice of Internet users, there are four key tests you should employ before the final release.
1. The full-process test
This is the basic, “log-on and try it yourself test”. Put yourself in the position of a potential new visitor, access your site the way you’d expect them to, and check out every page, every feature and every function. There may arise many user experience questions like:
- Is it easy to get from A to B?
- Do pages load quickly and present all the information a visitor might need to carry out an action?
- Does it look as good as you thought it would?
Once you’re convinced that everything looks and works the way it should, it’s time to do the whole thing over again on a different browser through the browser test.
2. The browser test
Internet browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are finickety little things, each with their own individual quirks and unique approaches to loading websites.
This means that, whilst your new website might look perfect on Chrome, Firefox throws a few spanners in the works that throw your styling into disarray or renders your shopping cart practically useless. Of all the browsers, Internet Explorer is the biggest culprit for this, but again, take nothing for granted. Using a website builder like Weebly or Wix should work out any kinks for you, but it’s still worth taking a look for yourself.
Give your site the same thorough, full process on all the leading web browsers, including Opera and Safari.
3. The device test
Not only do individual browsers render websites differently, but so too do the hardware and devices we use to get online.
With more and more people using smartphones and tablet devices such as the iPad to get online, it’s more important than ever to make sure that our websites display properly on these devices.
If you don’t happen to have a drawer full of different smartphones, computers and tablets at hand, you can always use an online tool to test how your site functions at different screen resolutions.
4. The ease-of-use test
So, no matter which device or browser you’re using, you’ve found that your website looks awesome and works exactly the way you’d expect it to. You’ve spent so much time with this site and now you know it like the back of your hand.
But what about the people who don’t know every little intricate detail of your site nor have an idea in mind of how they should be using your site? Is it as easy for them to find the information they’re looking for or carry out actions as you think it should be?
There’s only one way to find out. Hand it over to a group of friends and see how they use it.
This will answer the very essential queries like: “Is it as easy to navigate as you think it is? Can information be found quickly? How simple is it to act making a purchase or getting in touch with an inquiry?”.
These tests ensure you find the best ways to check whether your website is ready to go live is to find out how easily your actual visitors can use it.