If you stumbled across this article – you have probably heard of the term UAT (User Acceptance Test). If so – you can skip ahead to the list. Otherwise – here’s a quick definition. UAT refers to the process of approving a new website or site feature. There are several methods to go about doing this – but one of the most common methods is to have the developer sit down – side by side with the project or website owner to run through the features of the website.
During this process – users will get to test out the website for its functionality, usability, design, and any bugs or issues. Once the website or feature passes the UAT phase or essentially passes the website launch checklist – it will typically take between 1-2 weeks for the website to launch or go public. So – without further ado – let’s have a look at the 10 UAT checklist we’ve compiled below.
1. Website Security
Check the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) of your website. See if it contains an “s” or not. The “s” in HTTPS stands for secure – which you can get for free! HTTPs gives an extra encryption so it’s harder for strangers to hi-jack information being transferred by the user to your website. To do this – you will need to obtain an SSL (Security Socket Layer) certificate. Not only will this improve the security of your website – but will also give your site an SEO boost.
For a typical website – the free version provided by the host or Let’s Encrypt should suffice. However if your website deals with a lot of transactions – you may need to get a paid SSL certificate to provide extra confidence. There are different types of paid SSL certificates such as Domain Validation, Organizational Validation, WildCard SSL, etc. To quickly summarize – when doing a UAT for your website – don’t forget to check if the site is https and is hosted on a trustworthy provider.
2. Website Accessibility (Redirects)
Second on our UAT checklist is about common redirects. URL redirect is also known as URL forwarding. It is essentially making the web page accessible through multiple URLs. However – going overboard and funneling traffic through a dozens of URLs to a single page is bad for SEO. You should stick to redirecting “www to non-www”, “http to https”. Let’s look at an example.
If a www to non-www redirect is implemented. Whether I type the URL as www.enablerspace.com or enablerspace.com – I’ll end up on the same page.
So one of the things to do before you launch your website is test out different variations of the URL and see if you can still get to the same page. If not – you may want to implement some redirects to ensure that incoming traffic is getting to your site.
3. Default 404 Error page
Now that we’ve talked about forwarding traffic from one page to another for common URL variations with redirects – it’s also important to let the users know if a page is really non-existent. To check this – type in a URL that you know does not exist on your website and see if you get to an error page. It should say something like “Sorry the page you’re looking for does not exist”. To a greater extent – a default 404 error page can also help keep the user engaged by suggesting similar or related pages on your website.
4. Technical SEO
By doing this check – you are ensuring the discoverability of your website. There are many tools out there that you can use to check the foundation of your website’s SEO – and one of the tools that’s easy to use is called Screaming Frog. Run your website through this tool and audit for missing meta properties like title, description, keywords, etc.
While we’re on this topic – two other basic technical SEO you will want to check are the robots.txt and sitemap.xml files. The robots.txt file is a set of instructions for web crawlers to follow – while the sitemap.xml serves like an outline of the website for search engines. By having these two files properly set-up – you are making it easier for search engines to put your website into their database. If you’re having issues locating these files – simply drop us a message and one of our Digital Enablers can help.
5. Functionality Across Multiple Devices
This is one of the first things I personally do when testing out a new website. I typically start with the desktop or laptop. Access the website you’re testing out with different browsers (ie. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, etc). Now see if the website looks weird or dysfunctional on any browsers. Once you’ve done this on the desktop – try resizing the window by dragging one of the sides of the “view-port”. The website’s content should rearrange to best display on the different window sizes. If anything looks funky – take note as potential areas for improvement.
Once you’ve tested the website on desktop – do the same on your phones and tablets. Again – test them on different browsers you have installed and see if it functions smoothly on all of them.
6. Usability Testing
Now that you know your website is displaying properly across multiple devices and browsers – it’s time to test out the functionality. Start by looking at the navigation bar (hamburger menu on mobiles) – to see if you’re able to use it seamlessly to navigate the website. Then move on to test the banners and sliders to see if everything functions properly. After that – depending on the scale of your website – you’ll want to spot-check or click on all the buttons to see if it reacts the way it should. This includes social media buttons and social sharing functions.
7. Site Content
Check and fix broken images and links. One way to do this is to quickly skim through for any glaring error, whitespace or mispelling. Another method is to run the website through third party tools like we’ve mentioned earlier.
Other than searching for any major errors – you’ll want to also click on any external links on the website to see if they are opening in a new tab. If you find that your website does not have a lot of content – you may want to check out our guideline for creating a scalable content strategy.
8. Call-To-Action Fields
Once you’re done auditing the site-content – the next step in our website launch checklist is testing out the CTAs. Try fill out a form and see if it is processed correctly. Are the emails going to the right personnel, are their contact information collected properly. Here’s my personal preference for spot-checking if you’re short on time. First – the first form on the home page. Second – the form on the contact-us page. And finally, the form to subscribe.
9. Language Bar
If your website is multilingual – you should check if the language switches properly. Also – on the more technical side – you’ll want to see if the hreflang and canonical tags are set-up properly. The easiest way to do this is to right click on the page, select view page source, and then search for the hreflang tag. This requires a bit of basic coding knowledge – so if you get stuck you can ask the website developer or one of our Enablers to help.
10. Unauthorized Plug-ins, Extensions, Tools and Scripts
This one might be hard to audit on your own without any coding knowledge – but you can ask the developers directly. It does require a bit of trust. Essentially – you’ll want to make sure that the person who’s developed your website did not install or use cracked or pirated plugins, scripts or tools. This is especially dangerous because cracked tools could make your site prone to cyber attacks by leaving a “back-door” open. Simply put – it sneaks a short code snippet that once you’ve installed on your site – allows evildoers to have the administrative privileges without you knowing.
So – that’s it for our simple Website launch checklist. We hope you find this list helpful for performing your next UAT. Also – by no means is this an exhaustive list – so feel free to share any additional checks or your own methods of doing a UAT below. And finally – if you’re looking for someone to help perform a full-UAT of a website or start implementing technical SEO optimization to an existing site – please don’t hesitate to contact-us and one of our Enablers will be delighted to help.