Ultimate 11 Website Tests in 2023: Pre & Post Launch

A website launch is an exciting milestone, but it‘s just the beginning. Without rigorous testing before and after launch, issues from broken links to security holes can quickly sink your site‘s performance.

In this definitive 3000+ word guide, I‘ll equip you with a plan to audit your website like a pro. I‘ve thoroughly researched the 11 most critical test types to conduct both pre and post-launch.

For each test, you‘ll get a step-by-step walkthrough of exactly what to check, along with data and real-world examples of the impacts when things go wrong. My goal is to provide the insights you need to keep your website fast, functional and driving revenue long after launch.

Let‘s start at the beginning with what to test before you go live.

Pre-Launch: 11 Key Website Tests Before You Go Live

Thoroughly testing and optimizing your site before launch will spare you major headaches down the road. Walk through these 11 test types during development to catch issues before users experience them.

1. Functionality Testing

Functionality testing verifies that all core features of your website work as intended. Don‘t skip validation early on – according to a 2012 study by Dimensional Research, a staggering 90% of applications released to production contain bugs.

Follow these steps to rigorously test functionality:

Audit code compliance. HTML and CSS should adhere to W3C standards. Look for:

  • Proper doctype declarations like <!DOCTYPE html>
  • Well-structured DOM with unique XPaths
  • Semantic HTML5 elements like <header>, <nav> etc.

Test database connections. Validate queries and data access at all authorization levels:

  • Run sample queries to check expected results are returned.
  • Attempt to access restricted data with user logins that lack permissions.
  • Watch for proper handling of errors like failed connections.

Check cookie compliance. Test that your cookie implementation complies with privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA:

  • Confirm cookies aren‘t set until user consent.
  • Check users can opt-out of non-essential cookies.
  • Verify cookie consent banners follow legal requirements.

Thorough functionality testing will catch bugs like broken database queries, preventing frustrations during daily use down the road.

2. Usability Testing

According to research by the Nielsen Norman Group, up to 74% of users experience usability problems when visiting websites. Usability testing reveals these issues first-hand by observing representative users interacting with your site.

Follow these best practices when conducting usability tests:

Test key tasks. Identify the critical workflows users will perform, like signing up or making a purchase. Observe users completing these tasks and note any confusion.

Recruit representative users. Involve a diverse range of participants matching your target demographics. For example, include mobile and desktop users, varying age groups and so on.

Look for pain points. Watch for areas where users struggle like:

  • Broken navigation links blocking access to content. These annoy 67% of users according to recent surveys.
  • Unclear menus or options. If users are unsure where to click next, revisit the IA.
  • Missing alt text on images. When this essential accessibility feature is missing, blind users cannot understand the content.

Addressing the usability kinks revealed by testing creates a smooth, intuitive experience when you launch.

3. Interface Testing

While each component of your website may function fine in isolation, problems can arise when they interact. Rigorously test these core internal interfaces:

Validate API calls. Automate a wide range of API requests between the web server and application. Confirm expected results and error handling for:

  • Normal successful calls
  • Incorrect requests like bad data
  • Failed connections

Test application and database. Thoroughly test the vital link between your app front-end and database back-end:

  • Attempt a mix of simple and complex queries to retrieve data.
  • Verify restricted data cannot be accessed without proper permissions.
  • Check for appropriate error messages in the UI when a query fails.

Without meticulous interface testing, issues like backend outages could completely shut down your public-facing site.

4. Compatibility Testing

With a fragmented landscape of browsers, devices and operating systems, compatibility testing ensures your site works for all users. Key checks include:

Audit mobile experience. Test your responsive design on all target phone and tablet models, OS versions, and default browsers. Checks include:

  • Page layouts and sizing
  • Tap targets and spacing
  • Mobile navigation
  • Onscreen keyboard behavior

Cross-browser checks. Validate appearance and functionality across your key desktop browsers:

  • Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge
  • On Mac, Windows and Linux OS
  • Various browser versions

Print style testing. Check printed pages have legible styling without clipping or overflow. Hide irrelevant screen-only elements.

Gaps in compatibility can frustrate users. 22% of mobile site visitors will abandon a page that doesn’t display properly according to Google research.

5. Performance Testing

With 53% of site visitors expecting pages to load in 2 seconds or less, performance is critical. Rigorously test to optimize speed before launch using:

Load testing. Increase traffic volume to find maximum capacity before slowdowns. This reveals how your site scales.

Stress testing. Blast traffic beyond normal levels to locate weak points. Watch for crashes and monitor post-test recovery.

Spike testing. Simulate sudden traffic surges and measure site stability. According to Akamai, 53% of web traffic spikes above average latency thresholds.

Slow sites frustrate users, hurt SEO and directly reduce revenue. Studies show a 100ms delay cuts Amazon conversions by 1%. Optimize speed with rigorous performance testing.

6. Security Testing

According to research by PurpleSec, 97% of websites contain vulnerabilities. Don’t let your site become a statistic. Methodically test security including:

Confirm SSL setup. Check that HTTP requests automatically redirect to HTTPS. Switch between protocols and validate the cert doesn‘t raise browser warnings.

Attempt unauthorized access. Verify you cannot directly access protected pages and assets without logging in. Tools like Burp Suite automate authorization tests.

Test for SQL injection. These attacks allow malicious SQL to be injected into queries to access or destroy data. Probe for vulnerabilities to prevent data loss.

Audit user sessions. Check sessions expire properly after idle periods. Don‘t allow unlimited active sessions which can be exploited.

Simulate XSS attacks. Test input fields and paths for potential code injection vulnerabilities. Identify points of weakness before hackers can exploit them.

Neglecting security testing can be catastrophic. The average cost of a corporate data breach now exceeds $4 million according to IBM research.

Which Tools to Use for Pre-Launch Testing?

Many basic website tests can be automated using robotic process automation (RPA) tools like UiPath and Blue Prism. For more specialized testing, take advantage of purpose-built solutions:

  • Functional testing – Selenium, Katalon Studio
  • Performance testing – Loader.io, BlazeMeter
  • Security testing – Burp Suite, OWASP Zap
  • UX testing – UserTesting, TryMyUI

Rigorous testing across all dimensions will set your website up for an optimized launch. But the work doesn‘t end there…

Post-Launch: 11 Ongoing Website Tests to Maintain Performance

Launching your site is only the beginning. Without ongoing testing and monitoring, performance and security can rapidly deteriorate. Stay vigilant by continually checking these key areas.

1. Localization Testing

For global websites, regularly verify localized content across all languages and regions you operate in. Important checks include:

Pricing accuracy. Confirm correct currency formatting and conversions for all international storefronts. Even minor price mistranslations will frustrate shoppers.

Regulation compliance. Review content to ensure adherence with region-specific laws around privacy, accessibility and more. Non-compliance can lead to legal action.

Translation consistency. Check for irregular translations across languages that alter meaning. Inconsistent messaging damages brand reputation.

Staying on top of localization helps you connect with audiences worldwide. Companies that localize content see conversion rates double on average according to BigCommerce research.

2. Broken Link Checking

Over time, some links on your site will break as content moves or sources disappear. Dead links create a poor user experience and damage SEO, so regularly check for issues.

Run automated crawlers. Tools like ScreamingFrog and Xenu crawl your site identifying broken external and internal links to fix.

Check key pages manually. Complement automation by manually clicking major navigation links and verifying connectivity.

Monitor stats. Watch site crawl errors and 404s in Google Search Console to catch breaks quickly. Studies show 50% of links break within a year.

3. Backups & Recovery Testing

Even robust sites suffer outages from server failures, hacking attempts and human errors. Regular automated backups limit downtime and data loss when disaster strikes.

Schedule backups. Use tools like Backupify to automatically backup both site files and databases to cloud storage daily.

Test restoration. Periodically restore backups to staging environments and verify complete recovery. Document steps required to restore in your incident response plan.

Store offsite. Keep backup copies in a secondary cloud location to protect against issues like data center outages that could impact primary backups.

With 29% of businesses needing over 10 hours to recover from downtime, backups can be your lifeline.

4. A/B Testing

A/B testing allows you to try variations of designs, content and features with real users to see what best optimizes conversions and engagement.

Identify test ideas. Develop hypotheses around improvements to your site CTA language, page layouts, flows and more.

Set up split tests. Tools like VWO and Optimizely make it easy to set up and monitor A/B tests across site visitors.

Analyze performance. Statistical engines detect which variation outperforms across key metrics like click-through-rate.

Double down on winners. Roll out winning variations site-wide and brainstorm new test ideas to continue optimization.

Companies using A/B testing improve conversion rates by over 15% according to HubSpot. Don’t leave money on the table.

5. Analytics Review

Actively monitoring key analytics provides invaluable insights into site performance and user behavior over time.

Configure Google Analytics. Install tracking code site-wide and set up dashboards, reports and alerts tied to business goals.

Review metrics. Analyze trends in traffic sources, device usage, landing/exit pages, geo data and more.

Watch for red flags. Declining traffic, high bounce rates and drops in conversion performance can indicate site issues.

Tune SEO. Use tools like Google Search Console to check indexed pages, optimize content and fix crawl errors.

Regular analytics review prevents surprises and helps you react quickly when changes occur.

Keep Optimizing Post-Launch

Launching a website is an exciting milestone, but testing and optimization should persist long after going live. Use this comprehensive 11-point checklist of the most critical website tests as your guiding plan both pre and post-launch.

Staying diligent across functionality, design, compatibility, security and performance will ensure your site continues delighting users while achieving business goals.

To discuss hands-on help auditing or maintaining your website, reach out to schedule a quick consultation. Our team of 500+ technology experts can provide optimized solutions tailored to your business needs.

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