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There’s nothing more exciting than tweaking or recreating your website’s design. After days of finding the perfect colors, creating graphics, and adding new content, you’re likely over-the-moon excited to share your new design elements with the world.

But, before you push your new additions to production and make them available for everyone to see, you’ll want to do thorough testing on your end to ensure that the changes you made won’t cause any issues that could impact the usability or accessibility of your site.

Here are 5 rules to testing that you’ll want to follow before showcasing your latest and greatest design.

1. Use a Staging Site

In the traditional development and design world, you’ll have access to a development and a production site. But, as a WordPress user, you typically only have a forward-facing production site.

As a workaround, set up a staging site to use an area for making and testing website changes. This allows you to thoroughly test all changes without the added pressure of causing the live site to go down or to load with errors. In turn you don’t have to worry about depreciating user experience.

There are many ways to set up a staging site. The easiest method is to check with your host to determine if they offer a staging site. You can also look into other options like WP Stagecoach or using a plugin to achieve a pseudo-development environment.

2. Backup the Live Site

Somewhat testing related but a must-do before releasing a website update is to ensure a full backup is run. In the event that your updates break the site or cause other issues, you want to be able to revert back to a working version of the site, giving you time to fix issues without interrupting availability or user experience.

Unsure of how to backup your WordPress site? Thankfully you don’t have to be a computer whiz! There are all sorts of plugins that can tackle the job for you including:

  • UpdraftPlus
  • VaultPress
  • BackupBuddy

Scheduling a backup before a live site update protects your brand and alleviates the risk of website issues that cause consumer frustration.

3. Test on Different Screen Sizes

While your latest and greatest design may look good on your desktop computer, that doesn’t mean it’s going to look as flawless on a tablet or a smartphone. Today it’s important to account for all users and as many screen sizes as possible. In general, design your website using responsive design techniques.

But, it never hurts to test using a variety of screen sizes. Pull up your staging site on your phone and tablet. Resize your browser window. Make sure that the updates you’ve made look good on all devices.

Testing screen sizes of ahead of time means a much lower risk of frustrating users who are browsing the site on a smaller screen.

4. Test Different Browsers

Just as you’ll want to test different screen sizes, it’s also important to test different browsers. Since browsers can parse and display script differently, you want to ensure that your changes produce the expected changes on all browsers. Be sure to test the most commonly used browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Torch. This ensures that users, no matter what browser they’re using, have the same user experience and see the same interface.

Since you likely don’t have every browser available to you, to include the endless version possibilities, you’ll want to use a browser compatibility testing tool. These tools allow you to easily debug any script issues.

5. Test With Others

Remember when you used to have someone review your paper before handing it in to the teacher? In everything we create, it always helps to have a second set of eyes. No matter if you’ve been a web designer for 10 months or 10 years, it’s best to have someone look at your work and provide feedback. After designing a site for days and days and staring at the same code, it’s easy to overlook issues.

Before releasing website changes, take the time to have someone else look at what you’ve created. Ask for a thorough script scrub as well as a holistic look at the new design of the site. Ask yourself: Does this website appeal to my buyer personas? This is a simple way to pinpoint and fix any bugs before your changes go live.

Conclusion

To avoid website mishaps, never push changes to your WordPress site without first thoroughly testing them. Be sure to keep these 5 rules for testing in mind to minimize the risk of negatively impacting your website or even worse, causing issues with user experience.

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