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Monday, 9 September 2013

How to Implement Website Testing?

How to Implement Website Testing?

When it comes to web testing, web page or a website application, there are some general areas that website testing can focus on to ensure everything behaves as expected. The following list includes these areas for testing in no particular order, as each website owner will have their own areas of importance:

1. Functionality

This area of website testing should focus on items such as; does every link on the website actually work and direct me to the expected page? If the website contains a form or application, then not only can we determine the basic behaviour, but also test items such as input fields using test techniques such as Boundary Value Analysis and Equivalence Partitioning.

2. Payments/e-commerce

Many websites contain products or services to sell to website visitors. The most popular methods of payment such as PayPal and World Pay will provide methods of securing customer details from general view using HTTPS on the website itself or transferring the user to a secure site for payment. If a website contains a shopping cart system for example, then tests for adding products to the cart can be used ensuring that the correct items and prices are added and totalled correctly.

3. Contact / Support Information

Probably the most overlooked feature of a website is how easy it is for a user to contact the website owners to ask questions. In the past, website owners would commonly place an email link on the webpage which a user can click to launch their default e-mail client. We can easily test this functionality and ensure that the email address is correct and any associated email fields passed onto the e-mail client/program. Recently, 'chat' programs have been used to provide real-time communication between website owners and end users. Again, web testing can be used for basic functionality tests and also browser compatibility and stress/load testing too.

4. Browser Compatibility

In the past virtually everyone used Internet Explorer. Nowadays, internet users have a choice such as using FireFox, Internet Explorer and Safari for Macs etc. Common mistakes are made during website design as to the different behaviour expected between browsers and not only are there cosmetic differences but also functional behaviour. An example of this is how IE and FireFox handle 'white space', making a website appear completely different on each browser. Therefore, it is important that a website is tested on at least IE and FireFox(currently the most popular browsers) to ensure some kind of test coverage before a website goes live. Another aspect is to consider mobile phones trying to access the website.

5. Internationalization/Localization

Many websites aim to reach global markets but little or no thought has gone into their website design to accomplish this task. Firstly, web testing can be performed on different language operating systems. Secondly, and a much more affordable method is to change the language setting of an operating system. Also, we can change the localization setting to provide a more through test. For example, some web applications may only accept a decimal point when dealing with currencies. But in Spain for example, a comma is used instead. These country and cultural differences must be considered and website tested if the goal is to successfully obtain a global internet presence.

6. Security

The first thing that springs to mind when considering a websites security is when dealing with credit cards. However, most credit card processing services will offer a pre-built mechanism for dealing with credit card details, and this is often passed over to those companies and so the headache of keeping this type of information secure is no longer in the hands of the website owner. However, many websites contain forms for a user to fill-in which can then be stored on the website somewhere or in an external database. Careful consideration and subsequent testing should be performed to ensure that it is not possible for someone to gain access to this information. Due to the potentially high expertise necessary to perform this type of testing, many companies will outsource this kind of testing to a specialist.

7. Usability

A website must achieve its goal. This is where 'Usability Testing' comes into play. Often this can be achieved by pretending to be a typical user of the website or service and going through scenarios on the website making notes as to how the website functions, thus giving an impression of how a real user would feel about using the website. Information such as the layout, performance and even colour schemes can be gained by exercising this kind of website testing.

8. Stress/Load

What happens to the website when a thousand users visit the website. This can be tested by real web testers (if you can find that many free) or by using specialized third-party software and services. What we are looking for here is; does the website still function correctly? and is the website still operating at a level where it is not annoying to the end user? A user does not want to have to wait 30 seconds for a page to load!

9. Search Engine Optimization

Organic listings in search engines is extremely important from a business perspective, as being placed higher than a competitor can be extremely advantageous. There are many different areas within a website that can be enhanced to assist with a search engine ranking including, keyword density, meta-tags and sitemaps etc. This information can actually be tested via web testing and there are several free third-party tools which quickly measure keyword density for example which allows testers to identify too many or too little amounts of relevant keywords on a web page for example.

10. Appearance

An extension of usability testing is the appearance of a website. Most newcomers will instantly make up their minds about a website in the first five seconds of seeing it. If the design is not right, the user (often a potential customer) will just leave. Items such as formatting can checked, for example, the text is of a consistent size and colour and that there are no typos on the website. We can also check the alignment of text and any pictures to ensure a consistent look and feel on the website. Also, a websites colour-scheme can instantly decide whether or not the user is going to stay and look around the site. Although, most of website testing of the appearance of a website is simply an 'opinion', we can simply ask several testers their opinion which will provide a general consensus as to whether or not the websites appearance will be successful.

Author: James S Clark
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