How to test the usability of a WordPress website prior to launch

Your online presence is more important than ever before, particularly when it comes to your website. Whether you are launching a brand new business or are in the midst of a website redesign for an existing business, don’t fail to conduct adequate testing before the site goes live.

Failure to test your site could create huge problems for your client base and impact your sales and reputation. There is nothing worse than having the phones going crazy because the website isn’t functioning properly or realising months down the line that certain purchases can’t be made because of broken links.

It’s vital to conduct tests to figure out if you’re having problems. Websites that allow visitors to make purchases can be especially complex so this should be a priority to test. Due to the complexity, there are a lot of things that could potentially go wrong which could lead visitors to abandon the purchase altogether.

It can be difficult (and expensive) enough to generate traffic to your website, so you want to make sure you have everything in place to secure the lead when they land on your site. Losing them to something as basic as website bugs is a huge waste of time and effort.

Testing your WordPress website

There are a lot of factors that need to be worked out before you can decide how your usability tests are going to work. Firstly, you need to decide which of your staff members are going to be responsible for planning and conducting your tests and the things they should be looking for.

Your staff members should all be familiar with using your website, so when a redesign happens it’s important for them to practise using the site and provide feedback on any bugs or problems they encountered before pushing it live. This is a great opportunity to educate your staff regarding your website so they feel comfortable walking a potential customer through the navigation.

WordPress tech support tips: things to test

Now you’re ready to conduct testing, you may be wondering where to start. Though every website is unique, there are the same key areas to check. Here are our top tips of things to test:

• Loading times

Slow page loading times are common for WordPress websites. Whether it’s down to a bad hosting provider, poor code or too many unoptimised images, there are many reasons why a WordPress website is running slowly.

Every second counts when it comes to page speed, especially when speed can directly affect the user experience of your customers and your search engine ranking. Ideally, your website should load in less than 2.5 seconds – you can test it at Pingdom.

• Navigation

A poorly designed site navigation panel will confuse your customers, making it harder to convert them. Studies show that people scan rapidly through your site’s content and can skip important top-level pages leading to low visits on pages that should be getting lots of traffic.

Excessive drop-down menus can also be difficult for search engines to crawl, affecting your ability to rank for key phrases.

The easiest way to test the navigation of your site is to come up with a list of items for your test subjects to find, and see how long it takes. Some examples could be, your contact details or your returns policy etc.

• Responsive design

Now websites are accessed regularly from phones and tablets, you need to test how it looks on multiple size screens. There’s little point in spending the whole time designing and testing your site on a desktop, yet ignoring how it looks and functions on a mobile.

In fact, some may argue it’s MORE important to test your site on a mobile phone as Google’s Mobile First index will see the algorithm primarily rank the mobile site in the future.

• Broken links

Nobody fancies landing on the dreaded 404 error page and you’ll find most users unwilling to stick around on your website if they can’t easily find what they came for.

Broken links can cause loss of revenue, a poor SEO score and frustration to visitors. All links within your site, including payment transaction links, should be tested to make sure they are functioning correctly.

The easiest way to access broken links is to use this free tool.

• Content

The last, but extremely important, check to make is to proofread all content on your website. If you have a particularly lengthy website with hundreds of pages, you will need to come up with a structured plan to share the burden. Spelling errors happen to the best of us but when they are on something as important as your website, they cause a negative impression of your business. Be sure to get multiple proof-readers of your site to avoid missing any errors.

Most websites will usually have some kinks to work out after it has been created, and fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to make it easy to handle usability testing. Most businesses benefit from WordPress tech support to keep their website running as smoothly as possible.

We will tune up your site to speed up page loading times, fix any emergency WordPress issues, and provide weekly WordPress Core, Theme and Plugin updates to keep your site in tip top shape. Check out our monthly plans to find out more.

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