Testing & Launching Your Online Store

Test.  Test.  Then Test Again!  Remember, your new online store is dealing with credit card transactions ("people's money"), coupled with a number of features to engage your online visitors.  There's a lot of moving parts, so you really can't test too much. 

The next important thing to digest is this:  There WILL be bugs in the code.  So prepare for that.  Time is allocated for testing to FIND these bugs before your customers do.  The other challenge that you will face is that someone will want design and functional changes once you have time to fully exercise the finished product.  It ALWAYS happens.  Lastly, and probably most importantly, you must realize that there are a ton of devices and browsers that your new website must work on (and each has unique requirements).  Every combination must be tested and re-tested every time changes are applied.  The developers go through multiple test-review-fix cycles during System Testing and you will go through multiple test-review-modify/fix cycles during User Acceptance Testing (“UAT”).  Give this much overlooked step the time and patience it truly deserves.   

There are 10 unique testing environments!  Every time changes are applied, the testing cycle must be repeated in FULL.  So when it comes down to crunch time and the delivery date is in jeopardy, push the launch date rather than squeezing the testing period.  Quality first.

We find that most ecommerce redesign project plans omit two very important pre-launch functions. 

    • Google Analytics Testing to verify that tracking code is working and data is being collected properly in your TEST system.

    • SEO Tuning:  Just prior to launch, update XML Sitemaps, Robots.txt file and HTML Sitemap. Finalize 301 Redirect List and new destination pages.  Preserve SEO integrity to avoid any dips in traffic.

Your finally there!  It's time to launch your new ecommerce store.  Although we wish it was as simple as "flipping a switch", it's just not that easy.  There’s still work to do.  After all the files have been moved, continue to perform quality checks and submit modifications requests to your development team as needed.  Here are some highly-recommended post-launch tasks:

    • Website Sanity Check:  Verify that all the features, navigation, forms, etc. are working properly.

    • Google Analytics Health Check:  Verify data is being collected in your “live” GA installation. 

    • SEO Health Check:  Verify that pages from the previous design are redirected appropriately in the new design.  Verify SEO integrity for pages that still rank in the search engines.  Verify XML Sitemaps, Robots.txt file, HTML Sitemap are correct and functioning properly.  Review WebMaster Tools to ensure site integrity with Google (can Google crawl your website effectively).

Then it's time to CELEBRATE!  Don't forget this very important step.  Seriously.  You deserve it.  You should be proud!  To get to this point, it requires many dedicated, hardworking people.  Make it an event.

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