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How to test the quality of a website design?

You ordered s new website from a company that develops websites. The website was created in a relatively short period of time, they considered your wishes and the price was just below the amount you were prepared to pay. At first sight, the site looks good and because you lack the technical knowledge required for a detailed test, you decide for the purchase: “If a company has so many references, it has to be good, right?” In this article, we will present some details that you have to be aware of when accepting a new website.

We will present some common issues that may occur on a newly built website and that you can detect on your own. Usually, these happen due to inexperience and/or haste of developers in combination with bad (or even non-existing) quality control. If you do not detect these errors in time, you could lose a large share of visitors and consequently sell less; and corrections can cost almost as much as the new website.

Incorrect display on mobile devices and laptops

In average, mobile users represent over 50 % of site visitors and this number is constantly rising. They usually have lower resolutions (the same applies to smaller laptops), slower connections and often a limited data plan, and they interact with the site using the touch screen. Site elements therefore have to actively adjust to resolution changes (responsive design), which means adjusting the size of these elements and fonts.

You can check if your site is mobile-friendly with the Google Search Console – Mobile-Friendly Test or using built-in browser tools. To activate these browser tools, press Ctrl+Shift+M in Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome and try resizing the window in various ways.

Slow response

Long loading times of a website can drive away potential buyers, because they get tired of waiting. Low loading speed is usually a result of a slow server in combination with a non-optimised program code, poorly organised sources of oversized files.

You can test the loading speed using PageSpeed Insights, but if you use WordPress, we recommend to check out our article on how to speed up your WordPress installation.

Code errors

Modern browsers (and search engines) go relatively easy on HTML and especially CSS code errors. Even so, it can happen that in certain cases backend code errors cause incorrect display in browsers, make the collection of analytical data more difficult or even cause unexpected bugs that prevent further interaction. For testing HTML, you ca use Validator.nu; and for testing CSS the W3C’s CSS Validator.

Backend code errors can become very problematic because they can grow from warnings to critical errors and may cause site crashes in case of site updates. If you use WordPress, you can use the setting define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true ); in wp-config.php for turning on the display of warnings and errors – see instructions here (we recommend not to do this on a live site).

Security weaknesses

No matter if the site uses WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or another CMS, at the handover to the client, the software needs to be updated to the latest version. The same also applies to themes and plugins that are installed. This way we remove security weaknesses that may be caused by third parties. Testing the developer’s code for unintentionally caused security weaknesses is more complicated, which is why we will not discuss it here.

If your website is built in WordPress and ready to use, you can see our article on how to improve it’s security.

Insufficient SEO optimisation

A shining new website does not automatically mean that you will reach better positions in online search engines. If the developer did not consider good SEO practices, it can even happen that you achieve a lower placement. By not using a standard for robot exclusion (robots.txt) or in case of incorrectly structured URL addresses, double or unwanted content can sneak into search engines. Incorrectly set (or even unset) redirections can cause important content to be completely overlooked, and lower placements, which can also result from incorrectly structured HTML tags.

As a tool for a rough analysis of the current SEO state SeoCentro’s SEO Analyzer can be used. A simple way for testing redirections from the old site to the newly published site is by using the existing index of your site. Enter site:your-domain-name.com keyword into the search engine, click on the results and if you reach the correct pages, your redirections were implemented correctly.

High-quality website design is more important than you think

Think about what people would think about your product or service if it was sold on an incorrectly displayed website. They would probably not get the best impression regarding the quality of the product or service and might even not take your company seriously and simply close the site. You can also expect to get less action on social networks, if any. Due to a lack of traffic from social networks and bad SEO optimisation, you will have to spend more money on advertising, which means less money available for corrections, etc.

You can avoid this black scenario by getting your developer to remove these errors in a timely manner or simply by choosing a developer with a sophisticated website development process. Contact us and we will use our long experience with designing high-quality websites to find the best solution for you.