When we launch a new website or make changes to an existing one, it’s our priority to ensure everything works as it should.
It’s all well and good building a brand-new website that’s all singing and dancing on the surface. But if you look ‘under the hood’ of that site only to be greeted by substandard code, poor integrations, slow site speed, worrisome hosting and so on, it will be no good to anyone, including your customers.
That’s why we work through a robust checklist before hitting go live on any of our projects. In this blog, we discuss what this process involves, what you need to consider as the client and why it’s essential to leave time for these vital prelaunch website checks.
Why are prelaunch website checks so important?
No business wants changes to be made that have the potential to break their eCommerce store, impact customer satisfaction or cause performance issues such as a drop in search engine rankings. And every web agency should want to avoid this too. This is why thorough prelaunch website checks are integral.
Chatting to Pinpoint Team Lead Front-End Magento Developer, Matt England, he shared his thoughts on this important process:
“If we ever put something live that caused a website to go down for multiple hours, customers are without a doubt going to be unhappy and off they go to a competitor’s site. We want to avoid this at any cost.
This is the simple reason why we do so many pre checks to make sure everything is 100% ready to go and working at its best before we put it live. Whether it’s a new build project or an existing site we already work on, these checks are a given.”
However, anyone who works in the world of web knows that projects rarely run exactly to plan, and the final stages are typically the most hectic. With the added pressure of fast approaching deadlines, timescales can sometimes get squeezed. But launching a site that isn’t quite ready can cause irreparable brand damage which is exactly why prechecks are vital.
What do you need to consider?
Even though most of the work is done agency-side, there are areas that you still need to be aware of and plan for.
First and foremost is ensuring you factor inadequate time for QA testing and prechecks when considering project timescales. This is not a project phase you want to skip as doing so could have a detrimental impact on your website’s performance. If you don’t allow adequate time for your agency to carry out this process, issues and improvements will quickly bubble to the surface.
The final part of the sign-off process involves you as the client. We’re only happy when you’re happy which means we always recommend that our clients do a full site run-through before providing sign-off ahead of changes being published. Some businesses even choose to get their customers involved, allowing them to use the site as they would on a shopping journey to provide feedback and improvements.
Pinpoint’s prelaunch checklist
Before any website we work on is launched, our comprehensive checklist covers each and every technical site element to ensure your store is equipped to perform at its best. A real team effort, this process involves multiple members from developers to project managers to QA testers to internal stakeholders and, in some cases, your end users.
- Extension serial keys: The majority of extensions have a serial or licence key that’s issued to a specific domain name. If the wrong key is set, the extension will not work and will create issues on your website. As such, we ensure all extension serial keys are set for the live production website.
- Payment gateways: Are live payment gateways set and do they work as they should? There’s nothing worse than putting your site live and finding our payments can’t be taken.
- Server and hosting checks: For those using Magento Open Source, hosting isn’t included in your package. That’s why we always check we’re happy with the hosting before go live to ensure its powerful enough to support the new website. This stage involves checking technical elements such as disk space, that the PHP version is correctly set and there are no errors or warnings that could impact the website being launched.
- Analytics: Getting Analytics in place is a key step in the prechecks process. We ensure features such as Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and conversion tracking is set up correctly so you can understand your customers’ shopping journey better.
- Code audit: Code reviews and audits are a sure-fire way of ensuring yoru site is of good quality and stable. We offer a helping hand through technical consultancy, code profiling and performance optimisation to assess your site’s functionality before going live. This allows us to identify any site performance issues, security concerns, code quality and best practices.
- Production mode: For Adobe Commerce websites, it’s critical to ensure that the site is in production mode rather than developer mode otherwise this can negatively impact performance and site speed.
- Speed tests and performance reviews: For existing sites, we conduct speed tests and performance reviews as part of the prechecks process. Every time we make a change on the site, we’ll do a before and after test to ensure that we’ve not caused the site to run slower or impacted performance in any way.
The importance of QA testing
Once these prechecks have been completed, the website goes through a final important stage of QA testing. Completed by an expert QA tester to ensure every element has been considered, this process includes:
- Test suites: This is a collection of test cases grouped together that will explore a specific site area. For example, you may have test suites for the design, checkout or account areas of your website.
- Regression testing: When a change is made to your website, it shouldn’t be tested in silo. Regression testing should be undertaken to test all other functionality that interacts with the fix so we can be safe in the knowledge that it hasn’t impacted anything else. This form of testing is often given a back seat as project time constraints grow but it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking minor tweaks towards the end of your project won’t have a knock-on effect on other areas of your website.
- Mobile-centric testing: On average, 80 percent of traffic on eCommerce stores is from mobile devices. As such, the impact on your success due to a mobile experience problem could be more damaging to your sales which is why we complete our mobile tests first to give our development team plenty of time to work through bugs.
- Negative testing: This form of testing is when we operate the website using ‘bad behaviours’ such as a lot of clicking back and forth between pages and fast movements to help us find ‘edge case bugs’.
- User Acceptance Testing (UAT): The final stage of testing is known as UAT when the site is passed over to you, the client, to check. You know how your site should operate which is why it’s crucial that you are part of the end testing process. Giving you the opportunity to confirm you’re happy or advise on changes before the site goes live, it’s important to recognise that time and resource is needed to thoroughly test your site.
Does your team know how to use the new site?
Last but definitely not least, does your internal team know how to use the new website and new functionality? This needs to be a top consideration before the site is published, otherwise you’re left with an eCommerce store no one feels confident using.
We offer training on an ad hoc basis providing you with the opportunity to brush up your skills, learn new functionalities and work with Adobe Commerce experts. Our training ensures your internal users fully understand how your site works so you can really make the most of your eCommerce investment.
There’s proof in the pudding
There’s huge value in a thorough and extensive prelaunch checklist. By not giving this stage of your web project the time and attention it deserves, your reputation and sales will begin to suffer.
While there will always be something that needs testing post-launch, our processes are all about prioritisation. By following this list, any outstanding tests or improvements won’t have the potential to affect overall site functionality and performance.
If you want to find out more about how we ensure quality through every piece of work we do, don’t hesitate to get in touch.