Testing Your Website: Methods and Suggestions
Testing regularly is one of the best habits to acquire when creating a website
You would probably not believe how much money big companies are spending on what we propose in this chapter and ten times more when they realize this important step too late.
So, you probably want to start this new period of testing by re-reading the methodology behind testing a website. Then we hope you will will be able to continue with the more advanced testing methods that are found on this page. Testing does not have to be a chore, it can be made into a simple and convenient tool that you can quickly implement when the need arises (as it often does).
Testing is about developing 2 skills, asking the right questions and observing your users.
When to test
- It is never too soon to test. But you need to recognize that the results of the test are dependent on what stage of development your site is at. Because of this you will want to test multiple times during the building of your site. This will give you a better overall sense of how your site can be built to best answer the questions of your readers.
- 1 or 2 pairs of critical eyes being applied to your site as you build it are very precious, to give you feed back on what they understand and what they did not understand. It is especially important to have testers that can follow the progress of your work. If you don't test often, knowledge of the chronology of the site will be lost to your testers.
- Test your site during the creation phase, as discussed on the test early page. Test before you have a homepage or without showing the home page to testers (remember you can lock pages). Let testers see how your pages circulate and how they promote readers to move through the pages, independent of the guidance of a homepage.
- Test when you feel like the first version of your site is taking shape, tabs grouped in logical categories and home page displayed.
- Test when your site is running, when your site is active. Get feedback from your users.
- Big updates will progressively take shape during the life of your site, but when it is time to apply the update, organize a few tests just before and after structural changes.
Testing is a State of mind
- When you test your website you need to understand you are not listening for confirmation of what you think you already know. You are looking for new elements and new ways of seeing your content that you might not have thought about or thought were important.
- Be ready to go through parts of this guide again, each time a new element that seems to be important is revealed by the testing process _ Especially if there is new information that you want to integrate into the structure of your site.
- Don't overreact to one user's remark. This often happens when a tester says something that confirms your preconceptions, or because you were easily persuaded at the time. Individual opinions are good to recognize and compile ... but let these opinions slowly shape how your site grows and improves.
- Be an observer, a facilitator, a friendly ear. Let your testers talk, make comments, tell you what they are thinking about when they use your site. Don't judge them.
Listen. Note. Learn.
Signs of success
- The new tests help you find even more ways to improve your site. You might notice a topic that is buried behind the wrong tab or behind a title describing some other aspect of your subject.
- You see new and interesting questions to address, or discover new ways to answer your existing questions.
- Users are able to remember where information is on your site.
- Users are able to guess where the answers to their (or your) questions will be, just by looking at the tabs.
- Users feel comfortable browsing your site and don't feel as if they are going to get lost.
- You know you have a good website when users are curious to find out what is on other pages, and without prompting, want to explore your site.
- More people contact you throughout your contact page. Often when you do a good job of answering users' questions, their vocabulary and the way they talk to you will change. For example, questions that were asked often in emails tend to stop, because readers are able to find these answers in your content.
- You start getting (more) spontaneous feed back, contributions and suggestions.
Remember a successful test is not one where you don't find problems.