Testing is central to the process of website creation, but many marketers rarely examine this critically important step. When done properly, testing is time-consuming. Thus, when the schedule (or budgets) are tight, unfortunately, testing is the first thing to go. And when this happens, errors creep in that can destroy user trust, and damage long-earned brand equity.
All testing is not the same: each type of testing has a specific purpose. If it is omitted from the web process, risk increases; when it is done, the budget increases, as does the project timeline. The challenge on every project is to choose the right balance.
Here is a list of the types of testing that are possible:
- Information Architecture Validation Testing: To ensure that the navigational schema actually makes sense – and is scalable.
- Design Testing: To ensure the emotional connection connects the user to the brand (and to the goals of the business).
- Unit Testing: To ensure that each module of code delivers on the technical requirements.
- Integration Testing: To ensure that the whole system works together as expected.
- Usability Testing: To ensure that real users can intuitively perform typical tasks using the system.
- Stress Testing: To establish the point at which the system can no longer handle the volume of transactions without failure or excessive slowdowns.
- Speed Testing: To identify the components of the system (or page) that are causing slow page loads.
- Security Testing: To prove that known security issues have been addressed.
- User Acceptance Testing: This is the “official” sign-off testing process that is done by clients to identify any remaining errors.
- Regression Testing: To ensure that any fixes did not introduce additional errors.
- A-B Testing: To ensure that the pages are optimized to achieve the business objective.
An excellent test program rests on three key principles:
1) Process: Behind every test, there must be a process to ensure that tests are as positive as possible. This would include a robust design and development methodology, code reviews, test cases, and more. It’s far easier to build quality in, than to apply it afterwards.
2) Testing technology: Just about every test can benefit from the use of technology to automate the testing process, improve the efficiency when manual processes are required, and track/report testing results.
3) Separation of responsibilities: While it does make sense for a developer to perform unit testing on their own work, all other tests benefit from having a separate (and independent) testing team. Developers spend their time developing “in the trees”, and often can’t see (or don’t want to see) a buggy forest.
Marketing Insight #1: A key goal of a holistic testing program is to identify mid-course corrections that can help the website better achieve its business objectives.
Marketing Insight #2: “Testing” is not just a website development activity – it applies to everything. In the context of writing, for example, it’s called “editing“.
This week’s action plan: Find out if these tests are on the to-do list of your website or web landing pages. If they are not, educate your colleagues on the importance of testing and integrate these tests into the development process.