We make comparisons about what’s real or not all the time. Fake news, fake websites, fake designer products. It’s all over the place, even within the business industry. Brands which claim to fix all your problems or provide a specific solution cut corners to save time and money. Often leaving you with a below-average experience, which has been sold to you as prized gold.
And no other industry will do this to you more than the web testing industry. All those third parties or agencies you believe to be working away in the background maintaining your site at its peak performance, are in fact skimming over your website/app to find just a few defects a month to keep you happy. But why can they do this? Because the people regulating your third party/agency web testing have limited knowledge about what they are looking for, while the other company provides you with overly complicated results which boggle your mind.
How can you tell the good from the bad?
Web testing isn’t a one-off transaction. Even if you are launching a new site or re-platforming, testing your website/app once will always come back to bite you. Why? Because the digital world is evolving. Different functionalities need to be added, products and payment options updated, security loopholes eradicated, and legal requirement changes.
In your third-party or agencies, you should foster a long-term relationship, where both you and your fellow company are on the same level. You should be partners, not one-night stands. They should offer you actionable insights, be able to cater to your needs and offer different solutions which are evidence-based. Think of them less like web testing companies and more like a business development resource.
So far, I’ve discussed these different and often lacking agencies but not given any evidence. So, here are two large companies which have used an external web testing company but then felt the sting of below average service.
John Lewis- Last year the big retail day of the year begun. Black Friday. After being adopted by the Brits within the last 5 years, increased online Black Friday shopping has skyrocketed as eager shoppers search the web for ground-breaking deals. It’s one of the most important calendar days of the year within the ecommerce world. John Lewis had previously felt the sting of below-par web testing back in 2015 as their site crashed due to a surge of online users and thus made the decision to employ a third-party testing company. So far so good. But it all hit rock bottom as the site crashed again in 2018. Shoppers were left with a simple onscreen apology as the site failed to overcome the high amounts of users.
Given that over £230 million was spent during Black Friday in 2018, John Lewis missed out on a priceless opportunity to boost their overall revenue. What’s so disappointing about this instance is that John Lewis had previously experienced a website crash and by learning from their mistakes, would have likely understood how web testing, or more specifically load testing prevents such disasters. Combine that with the fact that they had previously joined with a web testing company, which should have seen Black Friday coming and we are left with two options. Either the testing company performed below par testing or didn’t even offer load testing ahead of black Friday. This type of company exactly encapsulates the type of web testing agency you want to avoid.
For us, this was expected. Last year we produced a website wars ebook analysing some of the top retailers' websites. John Lewis's site had one of the lowest conversion and CX scores.
Uber- Next let’s focus on the primarily app-driven business, Uber. In 2018 the uber app was downloaded 155 million times worldwide, with 21% of Android users in the US having the app installed on their device. Uber is popular and its users trust its service, but this was all at risk during November 2017. The app was subjected to a huge hacking scandal where 57,000,000 user’s sensitive information was put at risk. The issue was solved after Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to delete all the stolen data, but why did it get this far? Like John Lewis, Uber also has an external testing agency but clearly, they failed to hit the mark when it came to testing security defences.
Many companies, just like Uber, approach security testing from a one-sided point of view. They view it from the inside out, but the hackers are coming from the outside in. You can’t mark your own homework and you definitely can’t test your own website.
This is where the difference between a good web testing company and a bad web testing company becomes even more substantial. A good company will use licensed professional hackers/testers to seek out all of the security or performance issues on your site, whereas a bad company will allow any rogue tester to seek out problems. Using a professional means all of the tricks hackers currently use to break into a website are tested on your site and your site is being viewed by actual users. So, when a real-world hacker does attempt to attack your site, you already have the barriers in place to stop them.
To prevent hacking, you need to think like a hacker and use actual hacking methods.
Unfortunately for Uber, the pain doesn't stop there. Their app is still trailing behind in terms of performance, making users either frustrated or forcing them to abandon the app altogether. Wasting your user's time and money is a big no-no and can easily be fixed by using a professional, experienced testing partner.
Both John Lewis and Uber have experienced the effects of bad web testing or non-existent security testing. Trusting an external company, which doesn't provide actionable insights, doesn't want to form a long term partnership to help your business grow or uses skimming testing techniques, will always come back to bite you. Now it’s time to see what a great testing company looks like.