In the website development process people designated by the customer can verify and test the website’s individual elements before the contractor proceeds to the next stage. In most cases, these elements have been properly implemented and their functioning should not be a problem after delivering the finished website. However, the old saying states that we should trust, but verify. The same is true in the case of ordering a website. The customer must test, verify and report any observations expecting the contractor to remove bugs.
Someone without experience with technologies and Internet marketing is unable to completely verify the website before accepting it. Such a person should enlist the help of a professional or use tools that help to verify the website’s appearance, structure and key functionalities. In other aspects, we have to rely on the professionalism of the contractor.
It’s worth getting to know which elements of the website can be checked and whether it’s worth checking them, as well as learn the easily available methods of verifying their proper functioning. You should demand from the agency that the following elements of the website function in accordance with the agreement.
The key to assessing the conformity of the website with the arrangements is to verify that all the elements described below function properly not only on the home page but also on selected subpages. In the case of less complex websites we can test all the subpages relatively quickly.
Appearance of the website
Checking the appearance of the website has nothing to do with the matters of graphic design. This isn’t about simply checking whether the website looks as agreed from the aesthetic point of view. Such mishaps aren’t likely to happen to the agencies, and if they do, they are easy to fix and are dealt with quickly. It is key in the process of checking the website to verify that the individual elements are properly displayed in a variety of conditions. This mainly means the different sizes of the browser window resulting from different screen resolutions of devices.
Today, with tablets, smartphones and TVs, desktop PCs and laptops aren’t the only devices used to view and navigate websites. Sometimes people also use smartwatches and other devices with unusual screens that are getting more and more common. And this trend will continue.
Testing should begin with a thorough inspection of the page and testing various functionalities on the devices that we physically own.
There’s never enough of them, so emulators are necessary. You can manually change the size of the browser window – open the website on a screen with the highest possible resolution and subsequently test lower resolutions. However, it will be more convenient to use applications such as Responsinator. These are tools that allow us to effectively check the appearance of the website with different screen proportions and resolutions.
The website must look as intended on the screens of all mobile devices. Using the above-mentioned applications that emulate various screen sizes we can partially test the responsiveness of the website, that is how it dynamically adjusts to smaller screens – e.g. tablets or smartphones.
However, not every website uses RWD (Responsive Web Design) technology. There are still situations in which a separate version of the website’s interface adapted for mobile devices is created. It opens automatically when it detects that the site has been accessed from such a device.
In such situations more advanced emulators that can “pretend” to be another device come to our aid. Mobile Emulator and BrowserStack are such tools.
It’s also worth using tools that automatically assess the website for compatibility with mobile devices. The most important one is Google Mobile Check. You can also use the W3C mobileOK Checker.
There are tons of browsers on the market and even more versions of these browsers. Each of these supports a slightly different set of functions and does it in a slightly different manner. It’s worth making sure that our website is displayed properly in all (or at least in the popular) browsers.
To find out what browser and which versions are popular, you can visit Yourbrowser.is Browser Market Share.
The Browser Shots tool, in turn, will take screenshots in selected browsers running on Windows and Linux as well as on Apple computers. Similar offer is available from a paid website called Browshot.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The level of search engine optimization of the website and its contents is a key feature in terms of how easy it is for the Internet users we wish to attract to find the website. Google is by far the most popular search engine but in some cases it’s worth taking care of positioning in other search engines as well.
SEO determines how the algorithms of search engines will evaluate the website and its content, and consequently, how high in the ranking can the website be placed. SeoSiteCheckup is a tool that allows us to check this. Using this service will not replace a SEO audit but it will find and demonstrate basic errors in the design of the front-end.
You have to remember that optimization of websites for search engines is an ongoing process. This is due to changes in the evaluating algorithms and the appearence of new websites competing for the attention of the same users, as well as the fact that the currently existing websites are being changed.
Every person launching a website wants it to be popular. Social media constitute one of the channels that make it possible to achieve this goal by encouraging people to share pages (e.g. articles, products) on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, thus generating traffic to the site.
In order to facilitate sharing, social buttons are placed on the website. However, their presence is not the end of the activities aimed at social media. You always have to check if the website has been optimized for sharing, i.e. whether after publication the preview of the page will look attractively and are the proper title, introduction and the corresponding thumbnail image being displayed?
Facebook lets you see the post before sharing. Unfortunately, in the case of Twitter and LinkedIn you have to publish the message to be able to see the result. You can set up a temporary account for the purpose of testing the website and thus check how the posts will look like.
For a more detailed analysis in terms of cooperation of the website with the social media you can use the services offered by Iframely.
Just like mobile friendliness, the speed of loading the website is a factor that Google takes into account when assessing the website and determining its position in the results.
Google itself provides a very good tool for checking the loading speed: Google Page Speed. It separately assesses the speed on computers and mobile devices and displays suggestions as to what can be fixed and how.
For more in-depth analysis you can use WebPageTest which provides a detailed report on where the possible problems may occur.
The loading speed is also important from the point of view of the users as they are the ones that have to wait for the page to load. When loading our website takes too long, the user may want to disregard it in favour of a competing website. Sometimes, a small and easy to eliminate element causes the page to load overly long.
Knowledge about the specifics of traffic on the site is very important from the point of view of its owner. The contractor should embed the code recording site traffic and user behaviour on the website.
The most commonly used web analytics tool is Google Analytics – although it’s free (in most cases), it allows you to analyse a wide range of factors.
You should make sure that the tracking code has been embedded correctly and that it is used on all subpages, which is necessary. To check this you can use a tool called GA Checker.
Moreover, you must be aware that the customer should also be given access to the analytics panel that contains the website’s statistics.
Errors in the code
The presence of several errors in the code, which may happen, does not mean that the website will not be working properly – however, it’s worth minimizing their number. The W3C Markup Validation Service tool lists the errors of HTML code for a given site, similarly, CSS Validation Service checks the CSS code. Such a breakdown can be presented to the contractor that developed the website, asking to explain and correct the errors that affect the website’s performance.
More significant consequences than those caused by HTML errors can be caused by so-called broken links that lead to non-existent pages. They can be found using so-called spiders, i.e. applications that scan the entire website following all the links they find. Here are some examples of spider: Online Broken Link Checker, dead link checker, Dr. Link Check.
All of these elements are important. Testing them must take place before the formal acceptance of the website. It should also be noted that beyond the functional and technical issues we should check whether each page looks the way it’s supposed to according to the project and whether the contents are placed in the right spots and include no errors.
To facilitate your website testing, we provide you with a ready-made checklist containing all of the elements mentioned above.
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