Whether you’re launching a new website or a renovated one, having a WordPress website makes things a lot easier. However, before you launch, there’s a lot to consider. Have you tested all the new functionalities? Do all the new features work smoothly on a desktop and the latest smartphone? Will the new website cause any incompatibility issues for some users? And the most crucial question - does the new website design improve the user experience?
The best way to answer these questions is to thoroughly test your website design before going live. Luckily, this is easy to do, if you have a WordPress website. In this article, we share five essential rules to follow before launching or relaunching your website. As a bonus, we have added four tips that can contribute to better website design in the first place.
5 Rules For Testing WordPress Website Design Elements
Rule 1: Use a Staging environment
Earlier, website creators and designers would add all the website design elements in the “development” environment and move them directly to a live site or the “production” environment.
This is no longer the case. You can now make use of a staging environment to safely test out all the website changes without any impact on the live site. A good analogy for WordPress staging is a rehearsal that a stage actor gets before appearing before a live audience.
Is staging easy to execute? Typically, there are three methods of website staging:
Staging through your current WordPress web hosting company
Manual staging, which needs the necessary technical knowledge about WordPress staging.
Automatic staging: using WordPress staging plugins that are easy to install and do not require any technical expertise.
Rule 2: Create a website backup
Incompatible or poorly-designed website elements – there are plenty of unforeseen problems that can occur through a website redesign or a major version update. The same is true even for WordPress sites. For example, installing the latest released WordPress version could lead to incompatibility issues with your existing plugins/ themes.
To prevent this, you are always recommended to completely backup WordPress site before making any changes. How does a backup help? Simple, in the event of any problem, you can restore the site to its original state by restoring the backup files.
How can you execute a website backup? Here too, you can use the three modes used in website staging:
Backups from your web hosting company.
Manual backups that can be quite time-consuming and requires technical know-how
Automatic backups using WordPress backups plugin that are easy to install and execute. In fact, some plugins like BlogVault are bundled with a free website staging feature; so you can perform both backups and staging with a single tool. Additionally, it performs both backups and staging on its dedicated servers, thus putting zero load on your web servers.
Rule 3: Test your website on different screens
With the ever expanding range of mobile devices available today, your website needs to look good and perform well on different devices and screen sizes. For example, your website may be optimized for the desktop screen, but may not look equally work well on a smartphone or tablet display.
A responsive website design (RWD) provides a consistent look for your website on different screen sizes. As a web developer, ensure that you follow the responsive design technique when creating the website. RWD tools like CrossBrowserTesting can be used to test the rendering of your website on different devices.
To check if your website would look good on any mobile phone, you can use the Mobile-friendly Test platform offered by Google.
If you’re looking to go a step ahead, you can also try resizing browser windows or setting up website staging on multiple devices.
Rule 4: Test your website on different browsers
Just like different devices, users use different browsers like IE, Google Chrome, Safari, or Mozilla Firefox on their devices. As every browser uses a different parsing and rendering technique, you need to ensure that your website looks consistent across browsers.
To make this testing easier, you can make use of browser compatibility testing tools like LambdaTest or CrossBrowserTesting.
Rule 5: Test your website speed
A slow website, despite a great design, can turn off any user, be it on a desktop or a smartphone. In fact, according to Google, 53% of users leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. Slow-loading WordPress sites can also overload your local web server resulting in a drop in performance.
As a general rule, avoid the use of heavy image files or themes that have not been optimized for speed. Quality themes like GenerateTheme and OceanWP work great for creating a beautiful website and are also designed to support quick website loading.
Apart from these five essential rules for testing your website, low-quality design can also adversely impact the user experience. Good website design is key to building a healthy engagement between the business and the customer. Here are 4 design tips to consider for an excellent customer experience.
Bonus Section: 4 Tips For a Great Website Design
No matter which web designing tool or technology you are using, you can follow these 4 useful tips for any website:
1. Keep your website design consistent across all pages
Whether it is the font, the color scheme, the background design, text alignment, or the image formats, consistency is key to any good website design. A consistent page layout and design builds brand recognition and customer loyalty.
Design consistency across all web pages contributes to predictability and makes it easier to browse as compared to a website design that keeps changing across pages.
2. Make your website easy to navigate
Along with the consistent design, any website must be easy to navigate and to drive conversions. Users must quickly be able to find what they are looking without having to browse through many non-relevant pages.
Additionally, each “call to action” (or CTA) button for navigation must be distinctly visible and easy to notice. Also, think from the user’s perspective and check if frequent user tasks are easy to execute. For example, if you’re building an E-Commerce site, a shopper must easily be able to find a product and pay for it without a break in flow (finding the right product > adding to the shopping cart > checkout and pay for the product).
3. Check all your website links and integrations
Broken links are a common website problem that can cause users to turn away from your business. As a rule, check for any broken links either manually or by using link crawler tools like Screaming Frog or W3C Crawler. As part of your designing process, configure a “404 error page” that can notify users.
Additionally, check if all the internal links or buttons are directing the user to the correct target page. If you have included external links (or links from other websites), check if they are functional.
In addition to checking links, test all your website integrations, particularly those pages where you are collecting data from the user. This includes online form submissions, contact us page, or payment portals.
Finally, get a secure SSL certification for your website that encrypts all the data being transferred and also improves its search engine ranking.
4. Get your website design reviewed by another user
No matter how experienced you are as a website developer or designer, it’s always a good idea to get a second set of eyes to look at your site. Before going live with your website, get it reviewed by your colleague or friend. They add a fresh perspective to your design work and identify some common mistakes that you might have overlooked.
A great website design is the first step to improve the digital footprint of any business. With the availability of the latest designing tools, WordPress websites are so much easier to design and build. Before you look at redesigning your website, you must first ensure that you have followed through the steps outlined in this article.
We hope this article was helpful in helping you design your website design strategy. Have we missed out on anything important? We would love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.