You’ve designed a very usable website, you have integrated a sale and you hosted it using a very secure and dependable web hosting company and you have trusted a safe payment processing system and you have integrated with your website. Nevertheless, until you know your site is actually working and accessible, all these can prove to be useless. You will need to test, test and test again, if you want to create an accessible website.
Testing a website is a long and tedious task, but it’s perhaps the most important task of all. A recent Forrester Research report says that failure to ensure website quality will cost the average mid-size or small company thousands of dollars in wasted expenditures on website redesigns, forfeited revenue, and lost customers. There are different stages to testing, all of which are important. Ranging from browser testing to content testing, none should be eliminated.
Visual Acceptance Testing
The first port-of-call for all webmasters is Visual Acceptance Testing. This type of testing generally ensures that the site looks as it is intended to be. This includes confirming that the site looks good and it also entails checking the graphic integration. In this level, you should make sure you assess every page carefully ensure that each looks the same. The site should be colored depths and should be tested under different screen resolutions.
The most vital area of testing, and one which should never be missed is functionality testing. It involves an assessment of every aspect of the site where scripting or code is involved, from searching for dead links, to testing forms and scripts.
Make sure you also test your payment processing system thoroughly and completely. Besides, you wouldn’t want a potential customer to get trapped at the last stage and eventually leave the site just because something is wrong with the payment processing.
This stage of testing ensures that your site has a professional appearance and removes any errors in your content. In this stage, you should check for spelling and grammatical errors and you should reread each page on your site. This is very important.
System and Browser Compatibility Testing
In order to ensure that your website renders correctly on a user’s screen, the test phrase must be completed. First of all, you should test several pages from your site on different browsers such as internet Explorer 4, 5, 6, Netscape 4 and 6, and Opera. This can be very important – Netscape users will end up annoyed and they’ll go elsewhere, if your site does not work properly with the Netscape browser.
Monitoring and Tracking
It is both important and interesting to understanding what your visitors do on your site. If a majority of your visitors who proceed to purchase a product leave the site when they get to a specific page in the order process, you need to be aware of it.
It could be that the page in question is confusing or it is very hard to use. Fixing it could increase your sales exponentially. In fact, it is not uncommon for slight changes in a website’s headlines and order processes to result in a 200%-300% increase in sales. This is just an example; there are many reasons why you want a detailed analysis of your site visitors.
Majority of the website hosting services offer a stats package that you can study. Call up your hosting service and ask them, if you’re not sure where this is. A vital part of tracking your marketing progress is through statistics. Get a package that can help you in this area if you don’t have access to website statistic. Do not get a counter that just shows how many visitors you’ve had. You’ll be missing out on vital information that can help strengthen weaknesses in your site.
A good website hosting service would offer traffic logs that provide an invaluable insight into the traffic being referred to a web site from various sources such as other links, directories and engines.
Unluckily, traffic tracking provided by web hosting services is often in the form of raw traffic log files or other difficult to understand, cryptic formats. These log files are basically text files that describe actions on the site. It is literally impossible to use the raw log files to understand what your website visitors are doing on your site. Opting for a traffic logging package would be a great idea, if you do not have the patience to go through these huge traffic logs.
Basically two options are available to you and these are: subscribing to a remotely hosted traffic-logging service or using a log analysis package. A remotely hosted traffic logging service may be easy to use and is generally the cheaper option of the two. For a powerful free tool at Statcounter.com. WebTrends.com and HitsLink.com are also reliable tracking programs.
These services do not use your log files. A small section of code is placed on any page you want to track. Information is stored on the remote server are available in real time to view in charts and tables form, when the page is viewed.
A good traffic logging service provides detailed statistics pertaining to the following;
- How many people visit your site?
- Where do they come from?
- How are visitors finding your site?
- What traffic is coming from other sites, search engines, and other sources?
- What keyword search phrases are they using to find your site?
- What information are visitors most interested in – what pages are frequented the most?
- How do visitors navigate within your site?
Answering these fundamental questions is essential for making informed decisions that maximize or increase the return on investment (ROI) of your website investment.
Analyzing all the statistics you get from your tracking software is the most important aspect of tracking visitors to your website. Hits, visitors and page views are the three main statistics that will show your overall progress. Hits are tracked when any picture or page loads from your server onto a visitor’s browser. Hits, nevertheless, can be very misleading. It is quite an irrelevant statistic for your website.
Page views/visitors is the statistic that is probably the most important for a website. This gives you a good indication of two things. First, how many people are coming to your site, and secondly how long are they staying on your site. You can figure that most visitors view one page on your site then leave, if you have 250 visitors and 300 page views. Consider upgrading your site’s content so your visitors will stay around longer if you’re not getting 2 page views per visitor.
Keep up the good work if you see the number of visitors you have increasing as well as the number of page views per visitor increasing. Always look for this stat as an overall barometer of how your site design is going and if your marketing campaigns are taking hold.
Another good stat to look for is unique visitors. If a person visits your site for the second time, they will not be added to the unique visitor’s category. This is a good way to track new visitors to your website.
A good indication of how “sticky” your website is, are page views. A good statistic to keep is page views divided by the number of visitors you have. The statistic will give you a good idea if your content is interesting and if your visitors are staying on your site for a very long time and surfing.
Some people are intimidated by web traffic statistics (mostly because of the sheer volume of data available), but they shouldn’t be. While there are many highly specialized statistics that can be used for more in-depth web traffic analysis, the above areas alone can provide invaluable information on your visitors and your website performance. This data is available for a reason and it is up to you to use it.
Tracking Your Sales
Like any business, it is absolutely important to track and maintain your sales records. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your income and expenditures.
There are many ways to keep track of your sales. Using orthodox methods, for instance, keeping a paper journal is time consuming. Simple spreadsheet programs as well as basic accounting software are available at low or no cost. However, it is advisable to install QuickBooks, Quicken, or Microsoft money to keep track of your accounting; all these are advanced accounting software.
Sorting your register transaction by date, transaction amount, document number (e.g., check number), order entered, or cleared status, such advanced programs save your time. The tracking feature included in such software tracks, by user, changes made to each transaction. Reports can be generated with a few clicks, daily, weekly, monthly as well as yearly sales. These reports help you analyze the sales of each and every product. Reports and logs can be generated to keep track of all your customers.
Note: Affiliate marketing solves many of the mentioned tracking problems for you automatically. The company you are affiliated with keeps track of your traffic and sales, when you become an affiliate and resell other company’s products for a profit, and it also presents all the information to you in easy to read charts and graphs. At Wealthy Affiliate you learn about a turn-key affiliate marketing system that you can use to earn multiple income on the internet.