June 1, 2010

Pre-Launch Series Part 2: Testing Checklist


Hostway Team

By Simon Wright

Before launching new Web site content, it’s essential that rigorous testing takes place to confirm everything is working as expected. Catching faults and inconsistencies at this stage will ensure your consumers aren’t inconvenienced and your brand image isn’t damaged.

Test Scripts:

The various tests you intend to conduct should be articulated within test scripts. These will clearly advise testers what scenarios they are required to test and what the correct outcome is that they need to check. Getting your test scripts right is the most important part of your testing process, to ensure you don’t miss key components or carry out tests in the wrong order.

Things to check as part of System Testing:

Your technical experts should undertake stress testing to ensure your servers can cope with expected volumes. They should also check that the Web site renders successfully onto a range of screen resolutions. For example, it’s increasingly common for people to browse sites from smartphones, so it may be important to check that the user experience is robust both on smartphones and on computers. Also, where a checkout process involves the exchange of files (sometimes with third party companies), system testing will involve checking that those files can be exchanged and that they contain all the required information and formatting.

Things to check as part of User Acceptance Testing (UAT):

Whilst system testing is conducted by your technical experts, user acceptance testing is normally undertaken by the business owner. It involves pretending to be a customer and going through all the possible customer journeys that you might expect end users to follow.

UAT will involve checking that your branding is correct, and that there are no content errors such as spelling mistakes or typos. It will also help you to pick up on any broken links or aspects of your customer journeys that are confusing or overly convoluted.

UAT is particularly important where you have a checkout process that requires consumers to enter various details and go through a series of screens. You want to check that all the checkout fields work and that any required error messages appear at the appropriate points.

One particularly important component to include is checking that legal requirements are outlined correctly. For example, failure to display terms and conditions prior to submission of an order may have serious consequences. On a similar point, if your site quotes prices, it’s vital that the right prices are displayed. Remember that your Web developers won’t necessarily know whether content is right or wrong. They will just enter what’s been presented to them in the business requirements and it’s therefore your task to confirm that no errors have crept in during the process of translating those initial requirements into actual coding.

Live Proving:

System testing and UAT will be conducted on a staging environment that your customers won’t see. However, once you’ve put your site live, it’s always worth going in and checking that all the changes have taken effect correctly on the live site!

About the Author

Simon Wright works as mobile delivery manager for Royal Bank of Scotland and has extensive experience across ecommerce and mcommerce including the launch and promotion of Web sites.

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