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Testing Web Sites

Your website may look good to you, but will your visitor think so too? Will search engines be able to find your pages? (Search engines cannot find links in javascript, Flash, etc.)

Here's some steps for testing your website.

  1. Firefox with the Web Developer and FireBug add-ons provides a powerful testing and debugging environment. When developing a new site, use each of the Tools on the Web Developer toolbar to test a sample page to avoid proliferating errors on all your web pages.

  2. Display your site in different browsers. Common browsers can be done on your own computer. Other browsers can be tested at Browser Shots where you can display your pages in various browsers and version with/without javascript, Java, Flash and other plugins. Queue your request for a maximum wait of 4 hours and return later to check the results.

    Check your site in AOL too, which is not available at Browser Shots. Sign up for a free account at AOL or use a paid one. Start AOL on your computer and use their browser to navigate your website.

  3. Test your links periodically. I use Xenu's Link Sleuth. Features to look for in a link checker are:

    • maximum number of pages/links checked,
    • reports errors by page so you can find them easily in your code,
    • can be excluded from parts of your site with robots.txt,
    • can exclude certain links from checking,
    • option to report redirected links as errors.

  4. Have someone else (preferably not internet savy) browse you website and tell you how easy/difficult it was to find what they wanted.

  5. Study about security risks and test your site for possible security breaches. Use the free tool Sucuri SiteCheck to check your "website for known malware, blacklisting status, website errors, and out-of-date software".

  6. Is your site accessable to those with disabilities? Test a page's accessability at HiSoftware® Cynthia Says™ Portal or use the Validate Section 508 in the Tools section of the Web Developer toolbar for Firefox (See #1 above).

  7. Is your site fast enough? Many visitors will leave before seeing your web page if it doesn't load within 7 seconds and many of them still use dial up. View the speed report for your page or use View Speed Report in the Tools section of the Web Developer toolbar for Firefox (See #1 above).
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