Websites are the engines powering the entire internet experience, but if you want to make it big, your website has to run perfectly. It should also be fast, reliable, and secure. If it is, you’ll build trust with your audience, and search engines will be more likely to feature your website higher in the search results.
This is where website testing comes in!
Website testing helps you eliminate website errors, patch security vulnerabilities, and ensure that your website runs like a well-oiled machine. But the question is: “Where do you start when you’d like to implement website testing?”
To answer this question, we’ve spoken to our team. Here are the 10 website testing practices our devs swear by!
You've heard the saying, “Proper planning prevents poor performance,” and it's true – with proper planning, you'll know where you're headed (or the goal you'd like to achieve) and how you're going to get there. That's why we like to plan properly before implementing any website tests.
To do this, we first define our objectives clearly. We also figure out the scope of what we'd like to test and develop the strategy we'll use for our testing. What are your goals for testing?
Also, as part of developing our strategy, we decide what tools we'll use, who will be mainly responsible for the testing, and which team members will do what.
Once we have planned out how to test our website, what we will test, and what tools we will use, we will also prioritize our testing. This means we will decide which parts of our website will require most of our efforts. So, we will identify the features or components that are most important for the proper functioning of our website.
For example, if we’re dealing with glitches on Page A - which brings the most conversions into our marketing funnel, and Page B - which is a slightly poorer performer, we’ll prioritize Page A based on the right metrics.
However, your website's look, features, and technologies will evolve over time. As such, these priorities are not a one-time decision.
One of the most common mistakes our developers made when they were new to the industry was putting off testing. They’d leave testing until the later stages of the development process, causing them to rush the testing process, miss critical aspects, and make avoidable mistakes. That’s why, today, they prefer to get started with testing as soon as possible.
In addition, we like an agile, iterative approach that allows us to test our website during every stage of the website development process. This not only enables us to identify any errors earlier on but also allows us to adapt our testing process on the fly and stay productive.
While starting as soon as possible is a good idea, as we’ve shown, it’s also essential to test your website consistently. For us, this means that we’ll not only test extensively during the development of the website but also consistently once it has been built, no matter how small a change we make or feature we incorporate.
(It’s saved us from quite a few nerve-wracking bugs!)
Another best practice to ensure effective website testing is to implement test-driven development. You should write your tests before you write any of your website’s code, which means your website won’t have any code that hasn’t passed your tests.
This approach sounds like a handful, but the benefits are tremendous:
First, it helps us improve code quality by identifying bugs and errors early in the development. We can then solve these before they become more challenging to resolve.
Secondly, it helps us create better websites, allowing us to consider the design, requirements, and functionality from the outset. In turn, we’re able to create more modular code that’s easier to manage and maintain.
Combined, we develop faster and see that every piece of code that makes up our website works as it should.
Think about all the components of a website. You have the user interface, the features and functionality it offers, and the logic under the hood. All these must be tested to ensure that your website works as it should.
That’s why we use different testing types to ensure we create a robust website. These include:
Website testing often involves a lot of repetitive tasks. Fortunately, by using automated testing, we can eliminate many of these, and we can also perform regression testing.
Combined, this means we’re able to ensure that our website stays consistent and reliable.
A perfect example of how we use automated testing is how we use ScreenshotAPI.
We use our tool to take programmatic screenshots, which we then use to test and debug web pages. To do this, we capture screenshots of web pages at different stages during development and compare them to earlier versions. In this way, we can identify any unexpected errors.
You can easily integrate ScreenshotAPI into your process, no matter the coding language you use, from Python to Ruby. And if you’re not a fan of writing code - well, ScreenshotAPI is an API, so you can easily set up periodic screenshots with Zapier.
(Plus, automated screenshots help our team maintain the documentation whenever we update the website or its features.)
In today's market, users will use your website on several different devices and operating systems. So, you’ll need to ensure that it works and displays properly on all these devices and platforms. While this might sound relatively simple in theory, it’s a bit more complicated in practice.
Luckily, we can use cross-browser and cross-platform testing to make the process a bit simpler.
To perform this type of testing, we first identify the most popular browsers and platforms that our user base uses. Doing this shows us what platforms are most relevant to our audience and where we should focus our testing efforts.
During testing, we then use several browser testing tools and emulators to ensure our website works as it should, no matter what the platform. Here, we can once again use ScreenshotAPI to capture website screenshots.
By properly implementing proper cross-browser testing, we know that we’ll be able to deliver a consistent user experience, no matter if someone uses our website on their laptop, phone, or tablet.
We’ve already mentioned that we use performance monitoring to ensure our website stays performant. However, while testing under typical conditions is helpful, sometimes things that are outside the ordinary happen.
Because of this, we also monitor our website’s performance under various loads and conditions.
Once we know how our website performs under varying loads and over extended periods and how well it holds up when it’s pushed to its limits, we can easily identify issues and optimize.
Website security is critical when you consider that vast amounts of data are exchanged between your website and your customers. Additionally, cybersecurity threats, such as hacking and phishing attacks, are becoming increasingly common and can result in severe consequences.
As such, we need to perform extensive security and compliance testing on our website, which, for us, includes a range of tests designed to detect vulnerabilities and weaknesses in our security measures. When we identify these issues, we can then address them before cybercriminals can exploit them.
As a result, we can ensure that our website is as robust and secure as possible, giving our users peace of mind knowing that their data will stay safe when they use our website.
Once you’ve built your website, you won’t leave it as is. Over time, you’ll likely include new information, incorporate new functionality, and possibly introduce new features. So, much like your website won’t stay the same, your website testing practices won’t either.
This means it’s crucial to regularly review and update your website testing strategy.
As our website evolves, we either introduce new test cases or update existing ones to ensure they stay relevant and effective. During this process, we can also identify areas where we’ve not implemented proper testing.
By doing this, we ensure that we have consistent, extensive test coverage that helps us ensure our website functions as it should.
There you go; now you know some of the best practices we implement to ensure that we test our website correctly and that it delivers a consistent, performant, and exceptional user experience.
Now, put these into practice and see how you can best adapt them to your team and your projects!
And while you’re at it, check out ScreenshotAPI! It’s an integral part of our automated testing strategy with its ability to take programmatic, timed screenshots of any website. You can customize the screenshots based on your unique requirements and scale up to millions of screenshots per month without worrying about infrastructure or performance.