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4 Ways to Properly Test Your Site Before it Goes Live

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
Published on August 31, 2016

If you're about to launch your redesigned website, make sure to perform these tests to discover any errors and ensure that the site will function properly.

Near the end of a website redesign project, you’re likely to be excitedly anticipating the launch of your new site and eager to let your users take advantage of its new design and functionality. But how can you be sure that the site will be functioning correctly before it goes live? The answer is testing.

We’ve written previously about Quality Control (QC) and User Acceptance Testing (UAT), as well as prepping your new site for search engine optimization (SEO), all of which can help you make sure that no mistakes are made on the site before it goes live, but what about ensuring that the site won’t crash or become non-performant once it has been launched?

While performing baseline testing from the user’s perspective is an important part of ensuring a site is ready to go live, you also need to make sure your site will be able to handle the traffic that you expect to receive. How can you make sure that the site will be able to perform if traffic goes up, and how can you be sure that it will provide the security that your users expect?

In order to be certain that your site is ready to go live, here are critical 4 areas in which you should perform testing:

1. Load Testing

We’ve written before about how to calculate the peak traffic that you expect to receive on your new site, but we haven’t delved into how or why you should perform load testing to ensure that your site will be able to handle this amount of traffic.

When doing this testing, you want to know whether your site will slow down or begin surfacing errors when traffic increases. If you do find that there are any performance issues, what is causing them? Performing load testing will help you determine whether caching is not enabled as aggressively as you need it to be, if you are making any exhaustive database queries, if you have any networking or hosting configuration issues, or anything else that may be negatively impacting your site.

Load testing also gives you the opportunity to review the application logs on the server to see if any errors are being thrown that aren’t visible to the end user. Finding and addressing these errors during pre-launch testing will help you ensure that any issues are resolved before they affect your users’ experience on your live site.

2. Unit Testing

Often, simply checking to see if your site will be able to handle traffic spikes is not enough. You’ll also need to be able to make sure that the site will be able to handle any user interactions during periods of high traffic. These interactions could include forms that users will be filling out and submitting, member logins, shopping cart functionality, or credit card payments.

In order to simulate the interactive elements of your site, using a tool like JMeter will allow you to make sure all of the site’s functions will perform as expected, no matter the traffic load.

3. Integration Testing

Enterprise websites often connect to multiple integrated systems, so it is likely that your site will be pushing and pulling data from a MAP, ERP, or PIM. Simply testing to ensure that the correct data is being sent to or received from these systems is not enough; you’ll need to ensure that these integrations are also performing correctly when the site is under heavy traffic load.

In addition, some third party systems have daily or hourly API limits. If you’re pulling data from these systems on every page load, you may soon reach those limits, at which point the integration will cease functioning. You’ll need to be aware of whether this will be an issue during times of heavy traffic, so that you can use caching or another strategy to account for and surmount these limitations.

4. Security Scanning

As you prepare to launch your new website, it’s incredibly important to ensure from a coding and hosting perspective that your site meets industry security standards. Performing baseline tests can ensure that you are following best practices for security. These tests include:

  • Port Scanning – Ensure that only the necessary ports for the website to function are open.
  • OS Patching - Ensure that the hosting environment is patched with the latest operating system updates.
  • Application Patching – Ensure that the web application software itself is fully patched and up-to-date.

Also, depending on your industry, you may also need to ensure that you are following PCI or HIPAA requirements. Ensuring that you understand what those requirements are and that you have addressed them prior to your site launch will eliminate the possibility of delays before your site can go live.

The Importance of Testing

All of the items above are aspects of testing that are often overlooked when preparing to launch a new site. With the proper planning, you can make sure that these tests are performed prior to your site launch and catch any issues that might result in a less than ideal experience for your site’s users.

Do you have any questions about how to perform these tests before launching your site? Do you want to know more about how Diagram can help you ensure that your site is following best practices and providing the best experience for your users? Please contact us, and we’ll not only help you optimize your site, we’ll work with you to build a complete digital strategy. We look forward to helping you find success in your online efforts!