Web design elements must always tested. That testing must be thorough and it must recur regularly. It may be tempting to believe that if your website was designed professionally, then its general aesthetic and user interface will be more or less as advertised. Of course, the web design team should run a quality assurance test at the end of every project, but for the sake of extra security, so should the site owner.
Taking something like this on faith is dangerous. If there is some sort of a notable glitch in a website, or even a single broken link, it can cost the owner tremendous amounts of lost revenue before anyone reveals the reason why potential customers are clicking away without making purchases or forming a lasting connection with the site. The costs look even worse when one considers that by that time, the owner has probably sunk additional money into advertising a site that wasn’t prepared to capture its target audience.
It’s a simple matter to avoid losing that investment, though this isn’t to say that it’s easy. As much as after-the-fact testing of web design elements may seem like a straightforward conclusion to a long process, it can be pretty involved in its own right. Ideally, it involves exploring every element of user interface, from homepage and landing page down to the individual pages of an on-site blog.
Everybody Split Into Groups
More to the point, it requires exploring those elements with fresh eyes, divorced from the perspective of the web design professional who is already taking pride in his work, as well as that of the site owner who signed off on that work.
If you’ve watched as a given type of content was created, then there’s a good chance you ended up blinding yourself to its flaws and oversights, and the small ways in which it could be improved. If you can’t effectively imagine what it’s like to experience that content for the first time, then it may be necessary for you to rely on someone else to test your web design – someone who actually does have a fresh set of eyes.
Web design companies can accomplish this sort of objective testing quite easily if they have a large enough staff to break into multiple teams. In the event that two different teams are working on two different web design projects with similar schedules, it’s a simple matter to have each of them share their draft websites so the other can test it and report back on whether the designers missed any problems in navigation, aesthetic elements, or display.
Depending on the level of individuality within the company’s culture, this may also be the first step toward testing for responsive web design. If one web design project was completed on a PC, the other team may be able to test it on a Mac, or vice versa. Either team could also check the site from their iPhones, Android devices, or tablets and develop a fairly complete assessment of how the site performs on all those displays.
Check Your Devices
We’ve talked about the importance of that web design element many times on this blog. As the variety of consumer devices continues to grow, it’s increasingly vital to make sure that your website displays properly and can be navigated easily on any device that your target audience might be using. The only way to make absolutely sure that is the case is by either personally accessing the site from a variety of devices or by having your web design partners do so.
While it may be a hassle to maintain access to all those devices in order to check and re-check a single site every time new web design elements are introduced, there’s a good reason to do so, and it goes beyond testing for responsive web design. This particular testing process simply facilitates regular trips to the site and each of its pages, providing the tester with multiple opportunities to pick up on anything they might have missed when looking at the site on their own device.
This goes to show that it may be advisable to actively pursue responsive web design even in those rare instances when it’s not strictly necessary. There are time when a website’s target audience may be more limited in terms of how it’s accessing that site. For instance, a web design project may be intended expressly for a partner company, where employees are only expected to access it using a particular model of desktop computer, and a particular browser.
Expect the Unexpected
Even then, testing web design elements across multiple browsers and devices can prove useful at rooting out minor issues and preventing them from becoming any larger. It also provides clients with an additional service by guaranteeing in advance that their website can continue to function if the company using it upgrades their computers or decides to allow employees to access it remotely using their own devices.
That latter scenario should be familiar to many, and it goes to show that extensive prior testing either did help or could have helped certain companies in smoothing their transition to remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic. That, of course, is an issue that no one could have seen coming. So it is also a testament to the value of testing web design from multiple angles and identifying current problems alongside problems that might manifest in the future.
If you recognize the value of that process, then there will probably have to be discussions between the site owner and their web design partners in order to establish that both are on the same page, and to determine whose responsibility it is to conduct after-the-fact testing. The web design team should be better equipped for this in most cases, but there are also situations in which the client and contractor might wish to work together to assess web design elements, or oversee focus groups with the aim of seeing first-hand how their target audience will respond to the aesthetics and navigation.
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