Test before you launch so you don’t crash and burn.

No matter how much you test your new website yourself, you won’t notice all the same bugs as a test group.

Creating a test plan of real site users gives you valuable insight to help improve the site before it launches. From bugs to design issues, you get feedback to create a better site.

Setting up a test plan ensures all elements are thoroughly tested multiple times before launch. The result is a smooth running site your visitors will love.

Determine Who Will Test

Choosing the right test group is important. You want testers who will delve deep and go beyond looking at simple grammatical errors. Invite a small group of testers to go through every page, link, video and other elements of the site. For best results, use testers who either understand your business or who have some knowledge of web design to better know where to look for bugs.

Create A Timeline For Testing

The last thing you want is an indefinite testing period. Everyday you wait to launch is another day your competition is gaining new visitors, but you still want your site to work correctly. Create a timeline that includes several phases of testing and bug fixes. No matter how much you test, a few small flaws might escape notice. Don’t worry. These issues can be fixed after launch. The key is to ensure the major issues are taken care of. Plan for several weeks to a few months for testing.

List Elements To Be Tested

You want your testers to look at every single element on your site. There are also some items you want to make sure they don’t miss. Provide each tester with a detailed checklist of items to test. Encourage them to go beyond the list of course. Some of the main elements to include are:

  • Compatibility with various browsers
  • Compatibility with browser plugins (ask testers to list installed plugins)
  • Mobile compatibility and navigation
  • Menu navigation
  • All links
  • Video playback
  • Page loading speeds (ask for the testers’ connection speeds and devices)
  • Image loading time
  • General content – all dummy data removed, content makes sense, fonts easy to read
  • Ease of use of the design

Your exact checklist might vary, but include any elements visitors would use on a regular basis. If these don’t work properly, you need to know now before they ruin your big launch day.

Setup A Feedback System

The feedback system is the most important part of the plan. You can add a feedback form to the site itself, setup a special email account for bug reports, use a project management system with all testers and the developers involved or any method that works well for you and your testers. The idea is to have an easy to way to receive feedback and organize problems so they can be fixed quickly.

Establish A Schedule For Fixes

Once bugs or design issues are reported, they need to be fixed as quickly as possible. For instance, if the first stage of testing lasts three days, you may schedule any reported issues to be fixed within three more days if possible. You can then start the second stage of testing by the seventh day. For any problems that you can’t fix yourself, talk to the developers or designers to see how quickly issues can be fixed so you can plan accordingly.

Retest After Sets Of Major Changes

One round of tests aren’t enough. A single bug fix might have repaired one issue, but created another. It takes several rounds of testing to ensure the site is running as smoothly as it possibly can. Plan for at least three to four rounds. Testers might have overlooked a bug in the initial tests, but find a major issue during the third round. Spending this extra time is crucial to a site’s launch success.

Conclusion

A testing plan is a must for any website. While developers and the site owner test the site, the real test comes with genuine users. Getting their feedback helps you perfect your site. Establish your testing plan before the site is even complete and you’ll be ready to start testing the moment the developer gives you the go ahead.

Have your testers found issues that need to be fixed? Contact FatLab today to see how we can help.

Image: Steve Jurvetson