After the internet boom, the burden of accommodating more traffic and securing their platform has become essential to websites and online businesses. Even one of the biggest websites of the world, Facebook, faced a few hours of shutdown which cost them $6 billions in market value in 2021. From a security point of view, a comprehensive report by Accenture in 2018 showed that the average cost of cybercrime organizations has increased from $1.4 million to $13.0 million, while the average cost of downtime caused by a ransomware attack was $274,200 in 2020.
Website testing techniques are often considered as the tests that are done before releasing a website. However, it is as important to run regular checks on performance and security after the website launch, especially for some use cases that may occur after the website is being actively used. In this guide, we did a thorough research of multiple technical resources and listed the most important pre-launch and post-launch website testing techniques that you should apply for your website.
Pre-Launch Website Testing Techniques:
1. Functionality Testing
This very first step makes sure that the website can deliver its main function successfully. The scope of this test should cover all the possible queries a website may receive or different types of outputs it can produce. Therefore, this step should start with a comprehensive list of test scenarios that is based on the original workflow and scoping documents of the website. Some of the key features to check in functionality testing are the following:
- HTML structure and CSS should follow W3C standards, such as declaring doctypes or having unique XPaths.
- Database connections at different authorization levels should be tested in order to verify queries deliver the expected results and restricted data is not shared with unauthorized users.
- Cookies, which are small data files stored on a user’s end and identify them once they visit your site again, are a fundamental part of any website to customize user experience or monetize their website. Make sure that your website follows relevant data privacy regulations in your region such as providing explicit information about cookie collection or allowing users to change cookie settings.
2. Usability testing
This step involves any test that focuses on a user’s interaction with the website. This step often involves working with power users or focus groups by letting them access the website and it to detect bugs or poor design. It is a good practice to let such users to freely interact with the website since they may notice bugs that are not obvious to the development team, but can also be prompted with core features that the design team needs feedback for.
- Check whether the links and buttons work properly which are essential for website navigation.
- Check if the content is complete and correct such as images containing alt texts or content having no typos.
3. Interface testing
This step is essentially checking whether different website components interact with each other accurately. Three main interfaces to focus on here are the application, the web server and the database server. Apart from checking whether the below connections work properly, this step also serves for error handling by displaying proper messages on the user interface.
- Web server and application interface: Web server is where the queries that come through the application are processed and executed at the website’s backend. This connection is where you expect the website to “do something” and the task being done. This step may involve internal API requests as well, which should be matched with potential error messages to be displayed to a user in case of connection failures.
- Database server and application interface: Similar to the previous connection we mentioned, this is where a certain data query is requested on the application side and returned by the database. It is important to check multiple data query use cases, from simple to complex, in order to verify that the required data can be retrieved from the existing database structure. As we mentioned in the security testing, this step should also check whether restricted data is properly withheld from unauthorized database queries.
4. Compatibility testing
This step is to ensure that your website is compatible with browsers and operating systems that your users will reach out to your website through. Main checks falling under this step are as below:
- Responsive design is a common practice by many websites to make sure that the websites are displayed on mobile devices properly. It is important to consider not only mobile phones but also tablets as different display options. There are both free and premium online tools that allow you to test your website even on different mobile phone models.
- Different operating systems, such as iOS and Android for mobile phones
- Printing options, especially for interactive websites that users need to save outputs from.
5. Performance testing
This step aims to check how much traffic or concurrent users your website can handle without any interruption. Especially for consumer-facing websites expecting high traffic, this step should involve not only the tests but also resolution and emergency plans such as rerouting users to different resources if they need to contact your company or displaying a proper error message for the user to try later again.
- Load testing is imposing high traffic and transaction load on the website to make sure that the website performs as expected. An important insight this step provides is the recovery of your website after such high traffic, such as average response time after different peak points.
- Stress testing is simply the load testing in which the upper bound of the traffic that a system can handle is applied. An important insight this test reveals is the resilience of your website, such as whether there are any memory leaks or security vulnerabilities that occur after the peak traffic.
- Spike testing is increasing the website traffic suddenly and measuring the performance of the system. The maximum load your website can handle doesn’t necessarily mean your website can scale up to that level quickly and without interruptions.
6. Security testing
This step aims to check whether your website is protected against any potential cyber attacks or security vulnerabilities. Security threats can vary from confidentiality threats such as data leaks to malicious attacks which may result in interruption of your website’s services.
- Check if the website’s SSL is set up accurately by trying to switch between http:// to https:// followed by the website URL.
- Check for instances that can allow unauthorized access. One easy test is to check whether you can access internal or protected URLs without password log in. Another method is to check for non-existent username and passwords to make sure that the website doesn’t allow access for this input.
- Apply SQL injection testing checks to make sure unauthorized parties cannot insert data into your databases.
- Make sure long and inactive user sessions are killed automatically.
- Apply XSS tests, such as black-box method, to detect vulnerabilities in your website code that can allow bad actors to inject client-side script into your web pages.
Which technologies to use for pre-launch tests?
Most of the pre-launch tests, such as attempting to access certain links or filling certain forms of websites, can be automated using various Robotic Process Automation (RPA) applications. Check out our specific tool lists, such as load testing tools or usability testing tools, for more information on the specific tools and solutions you can use.
Post-Launch Website Testing Techniques:
For websites that operate across multiple geographies and languages, the website should provide consistent information. Especially for commercial websites the accuracy of price conversion or compliance with local regulations may be critical to monitor.
Which technologies to use for dead links and localization?
2. Dead links
While websites are updated and structures change, some of the internal links may become obsolete. Moreover, for websites that contain many external links, the referred source may no longer exist. Dead links impact the website’s visibility and SEO in a negative way. Therefore, it is important to monitor the links in your website to delete or fix any dead links that may appear overtime.
3. Back-up system
Having a backup of your website content and code works like an insurance for any exceptional error that may occur to your website, such as a memory error or malicious attack. There are tools that enable periodical and automated website backups directly on the cloud, which you can periodically test whether it is up to date or not.
4. A/B Testing
As a concept that is not only limited to websites, A/B testing is launching two different versions of the same website with only a set of features being different. The performance and user engagement with both websites indicate which version is better and should be deployed. Especially for consumer-facing websites with high traffic, A/B testing can be very insightful.
Which technologies to use for A/B Testing?
A/B testing can be simply done by measuring certain KPIs, such as engagement rates or CTRs, between traffic coming from two different versions of the websites. There are external tools and services that provide extensive metrics and a user-friendly way to monitor results of A/B tests.
5. Activate an Analytics Suite
Web traffic and SEO optimization tools such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console can provide very useful information about the performance of your website. By setting up regular checks and certain KPIs, you can constantly check the health and stability of your website traffic and identify where you lose traffic the most, which may indicate errors related to the link or content. Check out our in-depth guide on which methods you can leverage for website analytics.
For more on web scraping:
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For guidance to choose the right tool reach out to us:
This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Bengüsu Özcan.
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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