The Top 10 Tips for Better Front-end Website Testing

These days everyone knows the importance of front-end site testing and has some basic tools in place to help them – but how do you know if your testing efforts are ideal? From speed testing to usability testing, use these ten strategies to ensure your website is always running on all cylinders.

1. Keep a Constant Eye on Speed

As any good web developer will tell you, load speed is a vital metric to consider as part of your front-end load testing efforts, as it directly affects user experience. Slow load times can make the difference between a thriving business and an enterprise that seems to exist only to drive customers to the competition. Users expect near-instant results when they navigate to a website and most of them aren’t going to wait around politely as your site struggles to load. Studies done on user experience suggest that you’ve got less than five seconds to get everything up and ready to use. From this point of view, it’s easy to argue that load time is just as important as site element functionality. Forms that don’t fill are a big problem, but so is a site that takes forever to get up and running on the user’s device. Speed monitoring is a major part of any robust and effective frontend testing routine.

2. Take an Engineer’s Approach

Front-end testing was once mostly just a physical check to make sure code looked the way it was supposed to and CSS wasn’t rendering in any weird ways that would throw off the design. These days, though, front-end development is about more than just the design. At larger companies, designers, and development are often done by two different people rather than by one person. This means that the front-end is becoming more advanced and requires the same sort of precision testing approach that engineers used to apply to the backend only.

3. Test Early and Often

Testing is all about gaining certainty that your code is working properly and the front-end looks and acts the way it should. Is that really something you only want to do on occasion? To stay competitive, you’ve got to keep a constant eye on your frontend and check consistently throughout the day. This is nearly impossible to do without automation and it’s why we created MachMetrics. It’s so easy to forget to test, so utilize a platform that tests without you remembering to do so.

4. Audit Consistently

While small daily automated performance testing is a good idea, it’s also smart to zoom out and take a high-level view on a regular basis. This kind of big-picture analysis doesn’t need to happen every day, but on a monthly basis, it can make a big difference in how you understand performance. Putting out fires on a daily basis can make it hard to keep track of the long-term, but we make it easy by providing custom reporting that allows you to see both the forest and the trees.

5. Test for Different Devices

Veterans will already know this, but it’s something novice web developers can forget to take into account as they test. A GUI that looks ship-shape in tests on a desktop browser may look completely out of whack on a mobile phone. Regardless of what techniques you used to design around window screen size and other cross-device differences, it’s essential to check your work to make sure you were actually successful in creating a functional site in any environment.

6. Test for Different Regions

They don’t call it the World Wide Web for nothing. Whether a business is national or international, it’s essential for front-end testing to take region into account when it comes to load speed. MachMetrics automates region tests and gives you insight into slow loading performance based on geographic location. Compare the results of these tests with sales information for particular reasons and see whether there are any troubling correlations to address.

7. Present Findings to Non-Engineers

This may seem like a dead-end to many developers and engineers, but it can actually be quite valuable to share front-end testing findings with leadership in other departments. The key is to translate what you find into language a marketing manager or CEO can understand. Graphics displaying speed test results are as easy to understand as it gets. If you need more resources allocated to front-end development, hosting, or other services, shareable analysis could be your ace in the hole.


8. Combine Testing with Fact-Finding

Specificity is the key to truly understanding what works and what doesn’t during front-end testing. It’s one thing to know that something’s broken, but it’s another to know why. Testing isn’t just about identifying problem areas and going to fix them. Part of the value is in learning more about your systems and coming to understand what makes everything tick.

9. Get as Precise as Possible

It’s easy enough to test your front-end and find that you’re getting dismally slow load times. But if you don’t know the root cause of the slow speed, you aren’t going to get to fix it. You’ll want to analyze every request to find out whether it’s DNS, JavaScript, CSS or something else causing your performance woes.

10. Track Trends to Correlate With Changes

Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but this truism can miss the point. Your speed was fine all day right up until the very moment you pushed a new front-end change and now it’s lagging behind. Regular and detailed automated speed testing that comes with reviewable reference materials allows for easy identification of potentially broken code and other issues.

Analytics drive online businesses to achieve greater success and more reliable stability and that’s as true of engineering and development as it is of marketing and sales. You need information on your side to stay ahead of the game and on top of the competition. And when it comes to website performance, this vital information comes from front-end testing. Traditional testing alone isn’t enough, though—you need a powerful automation tool like us to drill down on the details and provide insight where you need it most.

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