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Web Site Cookbook by Doug Addison

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9.10. Developing Test Procedures for Your Site

Problem

You need to test your site to make sure it meets the goals you set for it, serves its visitors, and performs optimally.

Solution

Understand the types of testing that need to be done and incorporate them into your site building and maintenance process. The four main types of web site testing are:

  • Usability testing

  • Browser testing

  • Quality assurance

  • Load testing

Discussion

A former coworker and veteran web site tester once summed up her job to me: "Don't let anything get on the site that makes us look stupid." Of course, the reasons to test go beyond this simple mantra, but it also encapsulates (in its own blunt, self-serving way) why testing your site early and often matters. After the many hours you and others put into a site from concept to launch, failure to verify your plans and assumptions along the way can reduce your efforts to nothing more than a fool's errand.

Usability testing

Testing begins with your prospective visitors. Although you (like my old colleague) may worry about how an untested or unproven site will reflect poorly on your company or organization, the ones left looking (and feeling) stupid often are the site's naive users. When web surfers encounter a problem or confusing page on a site, they tend to blame themselves for what's gone wrong. The stubborn ones may try again, but many will give up and leave the site. If you haven't done the work to flush out and fix problems users may encounter on your site, you won't have ...

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