How to Make Your Website Professional – The Testing Phase.
- 27 October 2011 by Dean 0 Comments
Even the best looking websites will fail to be professional, and hence successful, if they don’t work properly! This post is the fourth in a series about making a website from start to finish. A focused testing phase is often forgotten when creating new websites, however, it can be the quickest phase of them all and the rewards can be critical to website success.
Put aside some time to run through your site and then fix anything that comes up. Let’s get into it…
Be prepared. Be focused.
Open up a new text file. Take notes as you go. Focus your time initially on testing, and then noting down what needs fixing. You might be tempted to fix things as you go along. My recommendation: if you can fix something faster than the amount of time needed to make a note about it, then fix it immediately.
The testing process
Start with the global elements
Global elements are the parts of a website which appear on every page. When you build a website with WordPress, just about all pages will have the same header and footer. Exceptions to this are very rare.
First test the header. The header is the top horizontal row across the page. Typically it includes a logo or site name, and perhaps the site’s navigation menu.
Check the layout and design is displaying correctly; click on all the links and make sure they go to the right places; use the search box (if you have one); check for spelling.
Then go through and check the same things for the footer.
Next you’ll want to test the sidebar (or sidebars) if you have them. Some sites may have different sidebars displaying on different pages, some pages may not have a sidebar. Make sure you test each different sidebar at least once.
Test and check page content
Take a close look at every page, as all of the pages on your site should be unique. Start with the homepage, test, view and read everything: links; layout; formatting of headers, body copy and any other styled text; spelling.
Test all the forms on your site, you might have a contact or comment form. Fill out the various forms and submit them to check if everything is working. The form might display something on the page, send data into a database or the content emailed to a certain email address of yours.
Then test any other piece of functionality. Pieces of functionality are basically something that you can interact with on the web page. That is, you do something (e.g. click) and the thing you clicked does something (e.g. views a larger version of a thumbnail image in a gallery). Functionality may include: Facebook like buttons; Twitter follow buttons; Google +1 buttons; RSS feeds; photo galleries.
You should now have a list of things to fix. After such a detailed look at your site, the list could be long and might also include ideas for things you want to add or change. Review your list and put everything into either a “MUST FIX BEFORE LAUNCH” list or a “CAN DO AFTER LAUNCH” group.
You want to fix everything that is broken or wrong with the site before you launch it out to the public. Your “CAN DO AFTER LAUNCH” list should include enhancements or additions you want to make. If you waited until all these were done before you launched your site, it could be a long time before your website is ready.
Commit to the “MUST FIX BEFORE LAUNCH” list and work through fixing everything. Once you have fixed something, of course, retest it.
A tip on text errors with WordPress sites
Typos or incorrect links can be fixed very quickly with WordPress. Make sure you are logged in to the WordPress admin, then start browsing your website. A toolbar should display across the top of the page.
To fix text errors, simply click the Edit Page button (or Edit Post button if you are on a blog post). You are then taken to the WordPress admin edit view for that page. Make the change and hit publish (don’t forget to retest!).
After everything is fixed, take some time away from the website. With a fresh pair of eyes, do a final sanity check. Browse the website and make sure that everything is “sane”, that the content is well presented and you can easily understand the purpose of the website and each page.
This post is just a taste of what you can get with the website making guide, You Make The Website.