Head of Digital
Posted on November 14, 2016
With an online presence now a critical part of nearly every business’s marketing strategy, it goes without saying that there’s little room for mistakes when it comes to your website. There are over a billion websites online, meaning that no matter which industry you operate in, you’re likely to be facing considerable competition.
There’s even less room for mistakes in industries such as financial services, which must cater for diverse audiences and convey such high levels of trust. Even one or two little mistakes can go a long way in damaging trust and visitor perception.
As financial marketers it is all too easy to focus on big website ideas and either check for smaller issues at the end, or completely forget about them. Unfortunately it is often these smaller issues that cause the most damage.
Fortunately there are a number of online website testing tools that can make your job a little easier. In this blog we’ll examine three of the most commonly used website testing tools, examining the features they offer and how they may be used to help squash those annoying little bugs that can wreak havoc on your website.
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Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool
As the name suggests, the Google PageSpeed Insights tool is primarily concerned with the speed at which your website loads and displays. Whilst page load speed may not be at the top of your website requirements list, it plays an important role in user experience and thus search engine rankings too.
Simply enter your website URL and the tool will test a number of factors that influence your page load time and provide a series of recommendations. In addition to page load speed, the tool will also advise on effective spacing between elements and appropriate font sizing for mobile devices.
The accuracy of PageSpeed Insights is impressive and although some of the recommendations can be very technical in nature, it is well worth investing the time and effort to address any issues that are reported.
HubSpot Website Grader
Originally developed in 2007, the HubSpot Website Grader combines factors from a number of areas to grade your website. This includes page load speed, mobile performance, site security and search engine optimisation.
Whilst the Google PageSpeed Insights tool is more developer focussed, the HubSpot Website Grader is more geared towards marketers. However the broader nature of the tool means that each factor is not analysed in as much depth as some other tools and on occasion the tool has been known to return inaccurate results.
That said, we’d still recommend the Website Grader, as long as its results are used as a general steer towards your aims and not used as a definitive benchmark. This is particularly true for search engine optimisation as the analysis performed is very high level and does not take into account the hundreds of ranking factors that the Google algorithm uses.
W3 Validator Tool
This tool is definitely one for the web developers amongst us. The W3 Validator service analyses the HTML code that your website is built on and reports back on any coding errors it finds. It is important to note that this is not a full test of every part of your website, only the code that a visitor’s web browser would see.
Although not the most visually exciting of the tools, this tool is well worth using. Badly coded HTML may not affect the way your website works on your device, but it may have a catastrophic effect on the way your website works on another device.
The W3C Validator Tool analyses each page individually. So rather than entering just the URL of your homepage, to properly test you may need to enter every page individually. Or if your website is particularly large, choose a subset of your pages for testing.
Enter the URL of your webpage and be ready to pass any errors or warnings to your web developer!
None of these tools are a substitute for a comprehensive website testing plan. They are designed to complement existing website testing efforts and are most effective when they are used throughout the development of your website, not just at the end of your build.
They can also prove to be a useful guide to setting your aims and objectives, but should never be used to provide definitive answers alone. Make sure your website testing plan includes testing on a range of actual devices, performed by people not algorithms!
If you’d like to find out more about the website checks you need to do before launching your new website, why not take a look at our blog here.