Most modern web users access the internet from a wide range of devices. These devices include phones , tablets, games consoles, TV’s, PC’s and smartwatches. As such, it’s important that business owners make sure their websites are up to the task.
Similarly, a lot of modern web users will buy products and services from these websites via a mobile device. Throughout the development process, businesses must make sure their sites are compatible here too.
Delivering a solid, consistent experience across a wide range of devices and platforms is essential. At the same time, business websites should not compromise the UI or the overall experience in favor of speed. So how do companies make sure their sites are up to scratch?
The answer is testing. Testing, testing and more testing. Testing web apps, services, pages and widgets. Ensuring that functionality, performance and speed are the best they can be. The testing process should begin at development stage, but it’s also an ongoing procedure too. If your website is simple to run, your business will cut a lot of costs.
You can’t truly gauge how well your website will perform until you’ve put it through its paces. And those paces need to be the same as a large traffic surge, as close to peak time as possible. A process like JMeter load testing helps test your website and web apps under a heavy load, mimicking that surge of traffic.
If your website can cope with the highest amount of users possible, then it’s a good sign that you’re ready. If the site crumbles, then you have a problem. Ultimately, it’s a game of trial and error, so don’t give up if things don’t fall for you.
Use a wide range of devices
It’s a bit of a no-brainer, really. As we previously discussed, web users will interact with your site from more than just a PC, so you have to be prepared. In order to get prepared, you have to experience exactly what the user does.
So boot up a tablet, console or TV, and type your site in the address bar. How is the experience? Is it optimized correctly? Do all the images align, and does the page make sense? Hopefully!
Free web tools
It’s possible to test your own site using… other sites. One of the most common ways to do this is to check your site’s speed using Google Chrome.
- Open Google Chrome
- Open the page you want to check
- Hit the F12 key
- Choose the network tab
You’re now presented with a list of page sizes and page load times. Not too shabby, eh? Elsewhere, there are more general testing tools, that can check basic site features like SEO. These bits of software should not be taken as gospel – they’re just an indicator that you’re headed in the right direction.
Simply put, task analysis – or user task analysis – assesses whether or not users can complete the tasks they wish. Can your users easily leave comments? Can they easily find your old blog posts or an archive? Anything that can be done on your site, needs to be able to be done quickly.
You have to check on several things here. Most notably, how quick and easy is it to complete a task? If you want people to buy your product, but it’s too hard, they’ll click away fast. If a user makes a mistake, how easy is it to rectify? If they add something to their basket by mistake, can they remove it?
Furthermore, are all the relevant buttons and links easy to see, and easy to click? If it’s not obvious where someone should go, they won’t be going anywhere. You want people to be able to advance through your site quickly and efficiently, with little fuss.
One of the easiest ways to cure this problem is by using a contact form. Or, you can create a survey. Either way, make it easy for people to report errors and issues to you. Use your family and friends, if necessary. Ask them to browse and feedback to you!
Alternatively, you could conduct some remote testing. This involves asking multiple people based in different locations around the globe to try out your site. This ensures that people who speak different languages and have different net speeds still have the same experience.
Other important factors
Aside from core site functionality, you should be reading through your copy and ensuring any errors are wiped out. Additionally, run through your social buttons and make sure they’re fully integrated with your site. One click should direct users to your Twitter/Facebook, so make it easy!