Posts in Web Testing
I started using Site24x7 a couple of weeks ago, and this morning I purchased an annual subscription (for about $15). Site24x7 offers easy and fast (and it really is easy and fast) web monitoring services. I'm using them to get alerted when a couple of web apps I'm hosting go down. They send email and text messages. They also provide very nice up-time reports (ad hoc and emailed weekly). I'm sure there are free services/tools out there for this, but this was soooo... easy. I had it up and monitoring in less than three minutes. And the alerts have been timely and effective.

If you have a small buisness montioring need, they might be worth checking out. The price is right, and they offer a wide range of monitoring services. And I just noticed they have a web version for the iPhone. I'm going to have to check it out.
Quick tests for landing pages
Mary Flaherty wrote an article recently titled Are Your Landing Pages Driving Clients Away? In the article, she provides some great tips, that I think also make great test ideas. Here's a quick summary:

  • Does the landing page have a clear call to action? In her words, "Where's the doorbell?" Test ideas around this might include asking users if they know what they're suppose to do next once they hit the landing page. Or watching where they go and seeing if there's convergence or not.

  • Does the landing page present all the options in a manageable way? That is, can you quickly see what the options are, and find what you might need? In her words, "Which door is which?" Test ideas around this might include asking users to find specific information and seeing how long it takes for them to find it from landing - again looking for convergence. I might also ask users to write down what they think the site contains without navigating past the landing, and time how long it takes them to do it.

  • If you collect visitor information, only ask for what's absolutely necessary.  Test ideas include looking at the business process being served by collecting the information and evaluating how it would change if something wasn't collected. Is that ok? Less might be more at this early stage...

  • How is information laid out and what's the quality of the copy editing. She identifies this as the risk of "TMI." Test ideas include making sure the site has copy guidelines (and they are followed), ensuring the writing is appropriate for the audience (jargon, concepts, structure, etc...), and making sure the layout is visually appealing. Mary also talks about dumping unneeded animations, choosing relevant images, and keeping information up to date and relavent. All of these are possible tests and/or heuristics for possible problems with the site.

Check out the full article for more ideas.
For those who didn't see Karit's comment on yesterday's post on having a backup browser when testing with a proxy, I wanted to share the tool he mentioned. Karit suggested using FoxyProxy, a Firefox extension which automatically switches an internet connection across one or more proxy servers based on URL patterns.

Looks to be a cool little plug-in. Thanks for the tip Karit. I'll likely end up trying it out next week.
Keep a backup browser handy
There are many times as testers that we end up using proxy servers. For me, I find I use them a lot when doing performance and security testing, but I've even had the occasion to use them when doing functional testing. This can sometimes create issues:

  • sometimes changing the proxy settings makes it impossible for you to use the browser for other tasks (for example, if you're intercepting all the outgoing requests so you can edit them)

  • sometimes using the browser for other tasks will mess up what you're testing (for example, if you're recording HTTP traffic for a load test)

A simple way to solve this is to have a backup browser. I almost always test with Firefox, so that means that (depending on my machine) I'll have Internet Explorer or Safari as a backup. This may seem like a really simple tip, but ask yourself this: Is your backup browser setup to do everything you'd need it to do if you couldn't use your main one?

For me, that would include: equivalent toolbars, up to date bookmarks, saved passwords for common sites (like JIRA, SharePoint, etc...), and making sure all updates/patches are in place. I hate it when I have to stop testing to get my backup browser in a place where I can actually use it. So I try to make sure it never gets too far out of sync.