Thursday, September 23, 2010

Preventative Website Testing

Back in my days as a programmer, our hardware techs used to use schedules for preventative maintenance on the computers. Each morning they would print out that day's list and proceed to test everything on it. As a programmer, we had similar routines that were performed regularly as a preventative measure.

When you are running a business, you have so many constraints on your time that you often put off tasks like this. But what did Grandma always say? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Even if you have a web person, it's always a good idea to have a good look at your own website. Doing so periodically will prevent many unnecessary problems and visitors will be assured a great experience.

So, here is a short checklist that I use to check my website, particularly after I have made changes to it.

1)  Be sure to test your website in as many browsers as possible. The main browsers of concern are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. Many come in versions for both PC and Mac. They can be downloaded for free.

Tip: Rely on friends, family and colleagues for a quick visual check of your website, particularly if they use a different platform or a browser version you don't have.

2)  Check all links. You certainly don't want a visitor to your site to find a broken link. Most times they will leave your site immediately.

Tip: If you have links to other websites, check them especially. The other site may change also, rendering your link to it broken.

3)  Thoroughly test your forms. Make sure required fields are noted.

Tip: Fill out your forms incorrectly or leave fields blank to see how the form breaks. Make note of what happens and what changes you will need to make.

4)  Test all navigation, including back links. Make sure every page has a link back to a main page on your site.

Tip: If you link to other websites, make sure the link opens in a new window. You want your visitors to always be able to get back to your site easily.

5)  Proof read. Check for typos, proper grammar, and proper word usage.

Tip: Consider having a colleague, friend or family member proof read your site. They are less familiar with the content and more likely to spot an error. If you can, find someone who has a skill for proof reading.

Yes, this will take some time to do. But it will be time well spent. Not only can your catch errors early but you will also familiarize yourself with your site. That will payoff when speaking with prospects.

For more web tips, download my article "Top 11 Web Layout Tips for an Effective Website". It's FREE.

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