By now, you’ve spent a lot of time planning and assembling the pieces of your new business Web site. In this step, you get a prize for all that work – seeing it all come together and watching your site do its stuff.
Whether you’ve hired a pro or did most of the work yourself, you now know how complex even a simple site can be. With that comes bugs. They’re unavoidable, have a tendency to reappear, and you’ll always need to stay on the lookout for them (see Step 11).
Best practice? Thorough testing of your company’s new Web site before going live.
You can do this “live” online, but in a place no one but you will see – a test site, your place to work the bugs out.
We cover what you need to know in 4 parts:
- Using a Test Site
- Staff and Customer Site Reviews
- Testing on Different Platforms and Browsers
- Tracking Bugs, Confirming Fixes and Testing Links (Again)
Using a Test Site
A test site is a twin of your Web site’s live server environment to use for debugging and development before you launch. Check with your Web host on how to configure it.
It’s best to do your testing along the way during the production process. But if you haven’t, don’t be tempted to go live without doing it now.
Be thorough, taking it one page at a time. Once a page is error-free and everything works the way it should, move on to the next one, repeating the process until you’re done.
If your site is big and ambitious, with lots of files and content, it might be easier to debug with automated testing programs like TestComplete, eValid or Badboy.
However you go, be sure to test for the following:
- Have you checked for spelling and grammar mistakes? Even the slickest, most professional site will look like amateur hour if you’ve ignored basic content editing. And don’t trust your spellchecker. It doesn’t know the difference between “their” and “there” and a lot more.
- Are your pages and navigation consistent across the site (see Step 4)?
- Do all of the links work, taking users where they expect to go?
- Are all of your pages printable? Building in a “Print This Page” function is a big crowd pleaser.
- Do your Web pages validate properly. There are plenty of online tools to check.