Testing Tools to improve your web project
Testing to make sure your site is optimised and performing as well as possible is a massive part of a website and improving your business’s online presence. Testing to constantly improve should be a key factor of any web project. If time is set aside throughout each stage to test, overall output will improve dramatically.
We have highlighted below just a few of the tools and processes that we use when testing a site in the development phase and for on-going maintenance to ensure quality assurance is as high as it can be.
Browser and device testing
So your site looks great on your Macbook Pro and will therefore look great on everything else, but what about other browsers and devices? Throughout a web design process there is room to get used to your preferred setup, but how others visit your site needs to be considered. Luckily we do not need every single device to test on (think of the expense), instead we can use services like Browserstack and Cross Browser Testing to review our site functionality across multiple browsers, operating systems and mobile devices.
Best practice to test on should be the following (which make up for 95% of most popular browsers according to GOV.UK):
- Google Chrome latest version (Windows and Mac)
- Mozilla Firefox latest version (Windows and Mac)
- Internet Explorer 8+ (Windows)
- Safari 8+ (Mac)
Small screen devices:
- iOS 7+ (Mobile Safari and Google Chrome)
- Android 4.x (Google Chrome and Android Browser)
- Windows Phone 8.1 (Internet Explorer)
Of course if you know your project’s target audience use a particular device, you should also test on this.
If any issues crop up whilst testing you can easily track and screenshot these (Cross Browser Testing offers video capture) and pass on to your developers to make the required updates.
Both these services offer free trials, but you may not even need to sign up for these. You can use tools in your web browser. For example if you use Chrome or Firefox, right click Inspect element to view a range of common devices. If you use Internet Explorer, press F12 to access Developer Tools to view across a range of Microsoft devices and browsers. Simples.
Any of these methods are great as it ensures that you have highlighted any potential snags before a user notices – which can ultimately damage their experience of your site.
Once your site is live, you should continue to monitor Google Analytics. If you don’t have this set up then stop reading this, set up Google Analytics for your site and return to reading this. You are missing out on valuable user data. How long are people visiting the site for? Where are they leaving the site? Google Analytics will help you find these issues and investigate further.
One thing to note is that you should always filter out any internal traffic to your site. This could be your IP, your developer’s IP, your client’s IP etc. If your analytics contains internal and external traffic it can be difficult to determine how your customers are actually interacting with your website.
But Google Analytics isn’t just for knowing how many page views you have had. It should help you understand how your site is working and most importantly if it is working effectively. A good way to keep on top of this is by setting up goals. By setting up goals you can track if your site is working effectively.
The four different types of goals you can set up are:
- Destination – for example an order-confirmation page would only be accessible after successfully completing an order, meaning you could track how many orders your site has taken.
- Duration – is it important to know that your users are on your site for a long time?
- Pages / screens per session – are knowing that multiple pages being looked at on your site a key goal?
- Event – a particular interaction with your site – video plays, file downloads.
Common goals you should start tracking are the following:
- Account creations
- Newsletter signups
- Session duration
- Video plays
- Any which are specific to your site’s success
Another handy feature to work with is Behaviour Flow. This report will let you see the most common path taking through your site – from the first interaction to the last page before they leave the site. This is really handy to see if there is a particular page which is acting as the exit page for your site. Why would the majority of users leave at this point on your site? You may be surprised to see there is a fundamental flaw with this particular page.
Overall Google Analytics is great to understand how users are using your site, particularly if you regularly update. It can help you keep track of what is performing well and where to improve.
Security and Penetration testing
Your eCommerce site is all ready to accept orders, containing users personal contact and payment information but have you taken a security and penetration test yet? A security and pen test is an attempt to safely hack your site and exploit its vulnerabilities just as a hacker would do.
This is a service which you should definitely go ahead with and keep on top of. Last year’s TalkTalk hack left some customers data exposed and resulted in the company’s share price dropping by 20% and damaging their overall reputation. A pen test will look at your site’s system, application and configuration and identify how these would be exploited.
A security and pen test usually covers the following:
- Network mapping and information discovery
- Vulnerability scan
- Web application vulnerability
- Network diagram review
Common practice is to not get your hosting / server provider to carry out the penetration test as this could create a conflict of testing. You should of course alert your provider of when the test will be taking place though.
Once this test is completed, you can then provide the results to your developers who will make the necessary updates to the way the site is built and the server infrastructure. Most penetration tests should include a second phase of testing to ensure previous issues have been resolved.
Carrying out a security and pen test will never rid the threat of security attacks, but has been found to reduce up to 80% of technical security risks.
So you and the client are happy with the site and want your developers to make it live, however tempting that may be, you should definitely user test your site first. Testing with your target audience can help you identify changes required to improve the user’s experience, see how satisfied a user is with your site and most importantly if they can actually understand your site!
A lot of user testing companies will try and convince you that you need to test in a formal user testing lab for extortionate fees. This is not the case. Some of the best session results are achieved when the test subject is at ease with their surroundings and do not feel that they are being tested.
Ideally you need the following prepared for your session:
- A location to use – offices or a studio. Preferably anywhere with multiple rooms, good wi-fi and strong coffee!
- Participants. You can either source these directly or services like WhatUsersDo can help. Make sure you get your participants to sign an NDA agreeing to the session and the use of their session for your findings.
- 5 to 10 tasks which represent the most common user goal (purchasing an item, signing up to event etc). What is the most important goal of your site?
- Making sure your audio, screen capture and share software are installed and working correctly. Services like Camtasia, Teamviewer and JoinMe are really handy to offer an all-in-one solution.
- Making sure you never influence any decisions – instead let the user proceed with the allocated task.
Post-session you can compile the data how you see fit – for some clients it’s more beneficial to have this presented in a statistical, quantitative form. Other clients may prefer a meeting running through the recordings and findings.
This is only a brief introduction to User Testing sessions – I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Steve Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy as a User Testing 101 guide. Analytics will tell you how users use your site. User testing will tell you why users use your site.
Overall there are hundreds of ever-changing processes and tools you can use to keep your site well maintained. Finding the tools which works best for you, combining these processes and adapting will ensure you have a well tested site and overall positive user experience.
Get in touch and see how we can help you maintain your site today.