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Done right, website testing is an opportunity for continual ecommerce optimisation. Done wrong, it can be a drag on release cycles and a block on consistent revenue growth.
For many brands, website testing represents both a logistical and a strategic challenge that can derail attempts to continually improve customer experience and increase online sales conversion rates.
The logistical challenge
For businesses with small QA functions or none at all, performing thorough and meaningful manual website testing with limited resources is a near impossibility.
The proliferation of devices on the market and the continual updating of browsers and OS versions, represents an inescapable, logistical challenge. With increasingly feature-rich and personalised digital experiences to test across so many device and browser combinations, compromises inevitably have to be made between the thoroughness of a testing process and the timely delivery of new releases.
A typical QA team can either end up constantly delaying release schedules or approving untested and potentially sub-optimal features to satisfy a company’s need for rolling out new features.
In these circumstances, testing for and resolving bugs can simply become a reactive process of damage limitation post-release, rather than a systematic and preventative regime that is adding real value to an ecommerce business.
As many businesses have seen this can result in a ‘clean up’ culture - the praising of heroics among testing and engineering teams, over and above the unromantic diligence of preventative testing
“Occasionally there is a superstar of an engineer that can take one of these changes and run through the gauntlet of all the possible ways that it could screw up and make it a success. And then we make a hero out of that person. And everybody else who wants to be a hero says “Oh, that is what is valued around here.”
From The Persistence of Firefighting in Product Development, MIT Center for Innovation in Product Development
Strategic challenges for quality outcomes
In this way, a logistical challenge can become part of a much wider strategic challenge.
Only allowing limited time and budget for test teams to perform their roles, or over-stretching development resources by relying on them to perform QA, can all make businesses stressful, unhappy and ultimately, less productive.
And in this world of stress, conversion rate optimisation activity can become reduced to mere guesswork and relegated to an afterthought.
Testing as a strategic response to an Agile world
The constant release of new iterations of websites and apps can release new bugs into the live environment and affect customer behaviour in unplanned ways. And with new releases coming thick and fast, it is often impossible to disaggregate one problem from another in your stats - and see where the difference can be made.
At the same time, in this age of agile there is a constant opportunity to make incremental changes that could make a huge difference to the bottom line; to perform more informed A/B testing, personalising and refining customer experiences to deliver better results, customer loyalty and brand growth.
There are more reasons than ever to be on top of testing, to ensure quality keeps pace with the velocity of continuous delivery and deployment - to have a clear view of what’s really happening with sales conversion, while preventing updates and changes wreaking havoc on your revenue stats.
Flexible testing options can lead to less stress and more success
But to do all this effectively, challenger brands need a flexible approach to testing which can really lever its strategic benefits.
Outsourced, professional, manual testing solutions can provide just the kind of large scale data you need to identify issues fast and prioritise the fixes that will make the most difference.
Running bespoke cycles of regression, usability and functionality testing, both pre and post-release, can give you peace of mind that the smooth functioning of the site is being constantly assessed and actionable feedback being looped into your development cycle.
This, in turn, will allow a company’s existing QA function and digital team to become more strategic, to focus on devising new testing scripts, coordinating exploratory testing, and implementing conversion rate optimisation, rather than getting bogged down in the day to day business of juggling devices and handsets in rounds of never-ending testing.
Ultimately, it can help ecommerce optimisation become a more organic and painless process.
For more information, download the Head of Ecommerce's Guide to Accelerating Your Conversion Rate in 24 Hours Ebook