July 07, 2015

The Importance of Testing, Part 1: An Introduction

This is the first in a 3-part series on the importance of testing.

When starting a new project such as building a new website, testing can seem like a daunting task. Because of this, most times it's done ineffectively.

However, not including thorough and detailed testing can lead to endless performance issues and unhappy users. Knowing the basics and understanding its benefits can transform your thoughts about testing. In this 3-part series, you'll learn what testing a website entails and how to incorporate testing throughout your project; the benefits of quality testing; and tools and tips for fast and efficient testing. Most importantly, you’ll learn that testing can be fun!

What is testing?

When it comes to a new website, the term testing is such a broad term. What all does that entail?

Testing your website focuses on how you’d like your users' experience to be. This requires use case testing, or testing for every user scenario possible. Use case testing involves naming the different actors (i.e., site visitors or site admins) and defining all the actions these actors can perform, such as submitting a form or editing site content. Identifying all the use cases will ensure that you've tested every aspect of your website. Use cases are also great for uncovering defects that can arise from integrating new or existing components of your site.

How do I get started?

For a large website with many links, loads of content, and multiple calls to action, this can seem like a very time-consuming process, and it can be. You can split hairs as to how many different scenarios a user could possibly face. The best practice is to focus on the mainstream, or most probable scenarios for each user. This is referred to as the “Happy Path” — the scenario in which every part of your site is working exactly as it should.

It’s also acceptable to account for when things go haywire. To be safe, include 1 or 2 more test cases that may not happen regularly. It’s good to know how to design for these scenarios in case they do occur.

Planning rounds of testing throughout your project at the completion of each component of your site is a way to save time. By not waiting until the end of the project, you can correct defects as your site is developed as well as discover more scenarios that you may not have otherwise.

I hope this brief overview has peaked your interest in learning more about the usefulness of testing. Next time, we will discuss ways good, quality testing can greatly benefit your website and its users.

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