Website testing isn’t what it used to be. Your site or web app now has to work flawlessly, not only on desktop browsers, but on a range of mobile devices as well.
What is website testing?
Web testing explores functionality, reliability, and performance to ensure a site or app works for users. But that’s only the beginning. There are several other challenging areas to address:
- Is it responsive regardless of the user’s device, operating system or browser?
- Does the site perform securely, without risking data loss, even in communication with other Intranet-based or Internet-based applications?
- Are regulatory compliance or industry standards met?
- Does the web application function across various firewalls, even if certain ports are blocked?
- Are there other web services that layer into the site (such as using Google Maps API on the Contact page)?
- Does every entry and exit point function with the same level of quality (e.g. if an e-shopper comes to the site from a social ad or signs in directly)?
- Does the site or app work with low Internet speed and does it generally load and perform at a speed that satisfies customers?
Put simply, website testing is no simple matter. But customer experience suffers when testing web presence is taken for granted.
Understanding the need for website testing
Your customers can do more and more on the web every single day. New web dev tech is taking website and web application testing in several directions simultaneously. Audiences are engaging with web content on multiple, different platforms and demanding more feature-rich functionality. Developers now have to build a wide variety of websites while jumping huge hurdles in their testing.
And yet, testing is essential. A website serves as an online calling card, and no business can afford to be lax about making a good impression on the internet. Having high hopes for boosting brand awareness, generating leads, and driving sales is fine, but website testing is what will reward that optimism.
With over 1.8 billion websites active in the world, users have little reason to waste their time on one that doesn’t perform well. A fully tested web site will also:
- Increase user confidence in your business/brand
- Improve search engine rankings
- Draw more inbound links
- Bring visitors back more often
- Drive enquiries and interactions
Being on the web isn’t enough. To be effective — whether for a family-run restaurant or a global chain — a website must work well. Testing is the only way to make sure a website or application update is easy to use and accessible, therefore making a good impression on new and continued users.
Understanding website testing challenges
Site or web app testing must address usability, acceptance, security, continuous integration, reliability, and optimization. But testing is often performed with limited time and on a budget. Let’s look at these challenges more closely.
Your customers expect the web to “just work” wherever they are, but developers know that the front end is hard to test properly. Unit test coverage typically diminishes the closer you get to the browser. Automated functional tests are often unreliable. Testing may focus on proving the happy path and overlook how human users find detours. CSS is also notoriously finicky and difficult to test. And, if your developers don’t use a particular browser, chances are it gets little testing love, even though your customers use it by the millions.
Developers use unit tests to review the execution of code and gain metrics about statement execution. While some developers might take pride in their high-quality code after the unit tests come back, it’s still difficult to fully vet every line of code. This is true whether the target goal is 80% or even 100%.
One problem area is testing that only confirms what is meant to happen actually does. This approach can overlook missing code, missing error handling, or missing requirements. Only testing code against developer intentions won’t ensure that the website meets user requirements.
Automated functional tests
Automated tests allow developers and QA departments to easily design, write, execute, and review tests, which can then be automatically performed at will. This can shorten dev cycles, help developers avoid repetitive testing tasks, and improve product quality.
Plus, tools to run detailed, data-intensive tasks can open up opportunities for more frequent and earlier testing results. However, even with the advantages of running multiple data sets at once, avoiding human error, and being able to test several different configurations at once, automation isn’t the end-all be-all answer to website testing.
A certain level of skill is required to set up and support automated testing. Plus, there’s the frustration of trying to discern the importance of a failed test. The developer must decide why the test failed—was it a bug? Browser/device incompatibility? A Change in site requirements?—as well as which action to carry out. There’s also the problem of patchy automated testing coverage that doesn’t find any flaws. Developers enjoy a false sense of security until they are caught off guard by a surprise issue down the road (usually when it’s more costly in terms of time, financial, and reputational losses).
Happy path testing
Whether taking the manual or automated route, only testing the happy path is insufficient. Users don’t always do what is expected of them. They don’t read instructions. They get confused. They do several things at once and don’t pay attention. They could even be maliciously trying to break your site. Testing should not only confirm that things are work according to plan, but must also try to trigger problems and confuse the system.
For example, your website sign-in process might require a user name that is only 10 characters long without any numbers. While positive testing would confirm that entirely alphabetical names under 11 characters work for the user, negative testing would see what the software does for BringBackHairBands*9.
Another example would be testing for date validity. For instance, in checking validity of birth date field, it’s unlikely a user will be more than 150 years old or that the user’s birth date for a 2017 release will be 2019. This testing requires creative, flexible thinking that anticipates faulty situations or errors a user might encounter.
Web testing can also address the difficulties of breaking out of the template mould. Designing a website using a template supported by its own troubleshooting team of professionals gives the developer a safety net. But coding CSS can open up a Pandora’s box of browser testing requirements.
Depending on what browser the client is using, the design could look fabulous on one screen but funky on another. The site or app is going to live out in a world of many browsers (presumably) and it’s important to test for the many environments that might house the web design.
The better the testing before launch of the site or app, the fewer problems developers have to deal with afterwards. Nevertheless, web testing must continue even after the launch. Although the site or app may be performing beautifully at the outset, the ecosystem might shift in various ways:
- Plugins might be updated
- Users could identify consistent difficulty that needs troubleshooting
- Audiences could change browsing habits
- Cyber criminals could identify new vulnerabilities to exploit
Constant consideration of customer requirements for quality user experience, mobile, or desktop speed and mobile-friendliness can help power a successful web launch.
Website testing with test IO
With test IO, professionals test your web app and website across an entire range of browsers and form factors. A crowdtesting firm like test IO can quickly convene a user population that mirrors your target customer base.
Our proxy customers are experienced with web and app testing like logging bugs, pointing out missing functionality, or identifying absent error conditions and other user interface glitches. Plus, they are savvy about documenting their finds in a clear, concise, and useful way.
Humans may not be as precise as computers, but they can outdo them in many other ways, such as creativity, context-awareness, and outside-the-box thinking. Humans also have the advantage of being somewhat unpredictable, which is useful for testing the not-so-happy paths. Along with the human touch, crowdtesting offers diversity by drawing on various locations and languages, levels of expertise, demographic characteristics, and life experiences.
At the same time, test IO’s crowdtesters are familiar with the patterns that lead to web app problems. Unlike automated tests, they can always tell the difference between a showstopper bug and a change in naming conventions of your divs.
They’ll even reproduce bugs in different browsers to help you find the problem. Experienced enough to continuously test without the need for scripts or step-by-step instructions, test IO matches you with highly qualified testers.
Whether you’re doing a major overhaul of your website or a weekly update of your app, test IO can help you refine and improve your product. Our crowdtesters are available on demand, offering efficiency and scalability in real-world conditions, throughout your testing process.