Individually checking each web page on a website is a thorough way to check for mistakes and problems on a website, but during the preliminary stages, why not find ways to at least cut out the time involved looking for these problems? Here are a few tools that I have found useful for doing a “quick and dirty” test.
First Impressions: SEO
First off, I always ask myself, “How does Google see the website?”. To investigate this is easy: try searching for the website being tested. Does Google display your page? Is it showing what you want first time visitors to see?
If the SEO has not yet been created, many online tools exist just for imagination’s sake. Meta Description Checker lets a person create an on the fly scenario of what a web page would look like if Google posted it in their search results.
When it comes to testing actual tags, Google offers a Structured Data Testing Tool. It’s easy to use: just enter a URL and it will show warnings and errors if something is not typed correctly, alongside the markup specifically involved. This is especially useful for locating specific trouble spots.
For testing Meta Tags, SEO Centro is an excellent tool. It not only tests the page, but also gives explanations and warnings. This is a better tool over many, because it can catch errors that other similar online tools will not. For example, when I tested one web page, I was absolutely certain my meta description existed and should have been working. A quick [control + f] search in the source code definitely found it in the markup, but a Google search as a test indicated something was wrong. The description was still not showing properly. Why was this happening? The reason that it initially did not fail another meta tag checking tool was because while the actual code for the meta description was right, it was not correctly placed in the head of the HTML markup. SEO Centro’s tool was able to recognize that.
It should go without saying that there should never be grammar and spelling errors on a web page. I found that even with spell check, one spelling error per page would still rear it’s ugly head! While it seems old-fashioned, just copying and pasting text into a word processing document seemed like an easy way to looking over the text not cramped inside a tiny window. However some tools can be handy for a quick run-through. I found respelt.com useful for checking individual web pages. This website was also helpful for locating portions of non-English text in a website, seeing it will find those words and mark them as spelled wrong.
Testing for Speed
Seeing Google will rank a website according to its load time, it is essential to track website speeds. Testing for speed can be easily done with web developer tools, but there are additional online tools made to test speed are helpful for locating the problems themselves along with solutions. Google PageSpeed Insights is tests mobile and desktop versions and provides a general overview of major issues in a manner that is simplified and easy to understand. But Google is just one of many endless options available to use when it comes to tools that test websites and their speeds.
The Big Picture
Powermapper.com offers a cool tool that checks across websites for a lot more than just broken links. Categories to find errors include: Accessibility, Compatibility (i.e. cross-browser issues), Search, Standards, and Usability. It searches an entire website, not just an individual page, which is useful for finding a small mistake that is inconsistent with the entire website. For example, I had a missing an H3 header in one page that I was testing, and this tool made it easy to find that immediately.
There are many resources found online that can help make testing a website easier. But there is no one way to do it, either. Being a web developer means being a master researcher and I found myself referring to three different checklists while doing my own testing:
- The Website Launch Checklist: 14 Things You Need to Review Before Going Live
- 57 Little Things to Double Check Before Your Website Launch
- How to test a website before you launch: a 28 point checklist
While all of these articles shared the same general topics, each one seemed to also feature its own special “must check” items that were sometimes completely unique to other recommendations – so much for checklists not being open to interpretation! But every website is different, so of course there is no one-size-fits-all guideline. Ultimately, making it a priority to do testing as much as possible remains the most important focus in general, in order to make sure fixes to problems are happening.