Launch Countdown: What to Test Before Your Website Goes Live
These tips will help you test for the right qualities (and bugs) in the month leading up to your website's launch for optimum performance.
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Planning for the launch of your website is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful if you start thinking about what could go wrong. The best way to make sure your first impression stays in people's heads for the right reasons is to prepare.
First things first, you'll want to access your website behind a firewall, on a staging server, or locally with CrossBrowserTesting's secure tunnel technology to make sure what you're testing is for your eyes only.
Once you have all that figured out, it might help to have a countdown calendar to strategize what to test and when. Take a look at our advice for how to test a website before launch, then fill in the gaps where you see fit.
One Month to Go...
You have some time to get into the nitty-gritty, but for now, you want to look at the basic functionality of your website because you're not going to impress many users if key functions don't work properly.
A few things you might want to check out include:
- Forms - If your website includes any pages that have form fields, including check out, payment, contact, email sign up/subscriptions, etc. you want to validate that they are correctly accepting and processing information.
- Buttons & Navigation - You want to make sure that when users are clicking around the site, it's taking them to where they want to go. Click through or automate tests for buttons and navigation.
- Links - There's nothing more frustrating to a user than finding a broken link, and they're extremely easy to miss during development. Google recommends broken link testing, but going through to click all of them manually is not the most productive use of your time. Try using a tool like Screaming Frog to do a crawl of your site - your SEO will thank you.
Keep in mind that you have a while to go until your website launch. If there are any integrations, bug fixes, or changes to code during this time, you might way to visit some of these test cases.
Two Weeks to Go...
Now that we know everything works, it's time to pay attention to usability. Here, you want to look at content like text and copy, layout and design, and images and media to make sure that everything looks as intended.
This is a good time for cross-browser testing. Since you don't know yet which browsers and devices your users will be on, it might be best to pick a few of the most popular browsers and manually go through to make sure your site looks good.
Pay special attention to responsive design. Test your site out on a few mobile devices — preferably at least one iPhone and one Android, but it's also good to see how pages look on a tablet.
To get a good overview of what your site looks like on different screen sizes and devices, you may want to use a screenshot comparison engine to run a few of your most critical pages. But it might also help to manually go through on a few real mobile and desktop browsers.
One Week to Go...
What good is testing if you don't prepare for the worst? You should be fairly confident in the basic use of your application, but you have to remember, you're preparing for a launch day.
Hopefully, you're implementing ample promotional strategies in preparation for the launch. If so, you should be expecting a high amount of traffic that will likely be significantly more than an average day.
Load testing will help you understand how much traffic you can handle at one time and will arm you with the information to make changes to avoid a site crash.
In addition, you'll want to come up with a few ways to test your application beyond what's expected. While you're accustomed to using the functions and features of your site as intended, most of the people visiting will be first-time users, which means they don't have a great idea of how everything works.
When testing, we usually want to perform the actions we think our users will follow to get to an end result, such as checking out or clicking a button. Negative testing looks at unexpected user behavior instead to explore the edge cases and determine what would break the application.
You don't want your site crashing on launch day just because someone typed an invalid input into a form, so it might do you well to check out some test cases that will push the limits of your application.
A Few Days to Go...
With all the strategic test planning you've done, you should be in a good place to unveil your site to the public eye.
If you haven't yet, outline a risk analysis and make sure that you've checked all high-risk areas. If you have, move on to the second tier of medium risk items that you might want to test.
Also, make sure to perform some last minute regression tests to validate that any code you changed or updated has remained stable. Running these tests in parallel across browsers is a good way to save time and make sure that your site functionality has held up.
Launch with Confidence
Sit back, relax, and watch your hard work pay off as your site traffic skyrockets. Once you make a checklist for how to test a website before launch, you'll be much more prepared to make a good first impression on all your new site visitors. Rather than hearing about all the bugs on your site, enjoy the compliments you receive as your users note the impeccable visual and functional proficiency of your brand new application.
This article was first published on the CrossBrowserTesting blog.
Published at DZone with permission of Alex McPeak, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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