5 Easy Steps To Test Your WordPress Website Like a Pro

Your WordPress website might boast captivating content, eye-catching designs, and premium plugins, but if your user experience falters, your online business could suffer. Unforeseen stumbling blocks, like a WordPress update disrupting your site’s functionality, can lead to a cascade of issues, causing visitors to abandon ship, especially during critical actions like the checkout process.

Understanding the Importance of Testing

To ensure a finely tuned, well-tested website that functions seamlessly, testing and troubleshooting become imperative. This comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge and tools needed to test your WordPress site like a pro. The ultimate goal is to have every plugin, theme, and template working harmoniously across devices and browsers, ensuring a flawless user experience.

The Significance of WordPress Site Testing and Troubleshooting

Testing your WordPress website is akin to the meticulous preparation of a gourmet meal. Just as you wouldn’t toss a steak on the grill without checking its temperature, turning it regularly, and ensuring it’s perfectly cooked, your WordPress site demands careful attention. Updates and design changes made directly on your live site can result in a myriad of issues—from glitches on specific devices to disappearing content—that may harm your site’s traffic, credibility, and overall success.

Lines of code used for web development being tested in a testing environment
Put it to the test

Step-by-Step Guide to Test Your WordPress Website

Now, let’s delve into a step-by-step guide on how to test your WordPress site like a pro, ensuring its functionality, usability, compatibility, performance, and security.

1. Identify the Purpose of Testing Your WordPress Website

Before embarking on the testing journey, it’s crucial to define the specific goals and objectives of your testing process. Different aspects of your WordPress site require attention, and identifying the purpose helps streamline your efforts. Consider the following types of WordPress site testing to optimize your testing strategy:

  1. Functionality Testing: Test your WordPress site’s functionality to pinpoint any malfunctioning components or elements. This involves ensuring that all features, from basic functions to complex interactive elements, operate smoothly. Identify potential issues that may disrupt user experience or hinder critical site functions.
  2. Usability Testing: Conduct a usability test to evaluate how intuitive and user-friendly your site is. Understand whether visitors can navigate through your site effortlessly, like taking a leisurely stroll in the park. Assess the overall user experience, including the clarity of information, ease of navigation, and accessibility of key features.
  3. Compatibility Testing: Check how your site performs across various browsers, devices, and operating systems. Ensure your website is the friendly and adaptable kid in the digital playground, catering to users on different platforms seamlessly. Additionally, evaluate the compatibility of your WordPress plugins and themes with each other to prevent conflicts.
  4. Performance Testing: Time is of the essence in the digital world. Gauge how quickly your pages load and assess whether your site can handle traffic peaks. Performance testing is like a stopwatch for your website’s sprint, ensuring that it meets the speed expectations of today’s fast-paced online environment.
  5. Security Testing: Prioritize the safety of your online business by conducting security testing. Verify that your site’s defenses are robust and capable of safeguarding against potential cyber threats or vulnerabilities. This involves identifying and addressing potential weak points that could compromise the integrity and security of your WordPress site.

By categorizing your testing goals into these distinct areas, you’ll be better equipped to create a comprehensive testing plan that addresses the specific needs and challenges of your WordPress website.

2. Create a Backup

Before delving into the testing phase or implementing changes on your website, it’s paramount to establish a safety net by creating a backup. This precautionary measure ensures that you have a restore point in case anything goes awry during the testing process. There are two primary methods to create a backup:

Manual Backup

For seasoned WordPress developers who prefer a hands-on approach, a manual backup is a reliable method. Follow these steps:

  1. Access the file manager provided by your hosting provider or use an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client like FileZilla.
  2. Locate the root directory of your WordPress installation, usually named “public_html.”
  3. Select all files and folders in your WordPress root directory. Download, transfer, or copy them to your local computer. Ensure to include the crucial “wp-config.php” file containing essential configuration details.
  4. Export your WordPress database through your hosting control panel’s “phpMyAdmin” or “Database” section. Choose your WordPress database, navigate to the “Export” tab, and download the exported database file to your computer.
  5. Store your backup files securely in a separate location from your website’s server.

Using WordPress Backup Plugins

Alternatively, simplify the backup process by installing and configuring a reliable backup plugin such as UpdraftPlus, VaultPress (Jetpack Backup), BackupBuddy, or Duplicator. These plugins offer the convenience of scheduling automatic backups, manually creating backups of your entire website, or selectively backing up specific components like databases, files, plugins, and themes.

Regardless of the chosen method, it’s crucial to periodically test your backup files to confirm their validity and ensure successful restoration if the need arises. This proactive approach adds an extra layer of security and confidence before initiating any changes to your WordPress site.

3. Set Up a Testing Environment

To conduct effective testing without impacting your live website, it’s essential to create a dedicated testing environment, often referred to as a staging site. This safeguards your live site from potential disruptions during the testing process. Here’s a comprehensive guide on setting up your testing environment:

  1. Select a Staging Site Option from Hosting Providers: Begin by exploring the offerings of your hosting provider, as some providers offer the option to set up a staging site as a subdomain. Check your hosting account dashboard for staging site features and follow the provided instructions.
  2. Manually Clone Your Live Website to Staging: If your hosting provider doesn’t provide an automatic staging setup, you can manually clone your live website. Use an FTP client like FileZilla or leverage plugins such as Duplicator, WP Staging, or All-in-One WP Migration. Follow these general steps:
    • Access your live site’s files through the FTP client or plugin.
    • Copy all files to the staging environment, ensuring a comprehensive transfer.
    • Duplicate your live site’s database and import it into the staging database.
  3. Match Staging Site Configurations: Ensure that your staging site closely mirrors your live site in terms of:
    • WordPress Theme: Select the same theme to maintain visual consistency.
    • Plugins: Install identical plugins to replicate functionalities accurately.
    • Configurations: Match settings such as permalinks, site language, and other configurations.
  4. Adjust Staging Site Settings: To prevent interference with your live site and maintain a realistic testing environment, consider:
    • Disabling Email Notifications: Avoid unintentional emails to users during testing.
    • Preventing Indexing: Configure settings to prevent search engines from indexing the staging site.

By diligently following these steps, you’ll establish a staging environment that mirrors your live WordPress site, providing a secure space for comprehensive testing without any adverse effects on your active website.

4. Make and Test Your Changes

With your staging environment ready, it’s time to delve into testing based on your priorities and upgrade requirements. Follow these key strategies to ensure a thorough evaluation of your WordPress site:

  1. Evaluate Core Functionality: Begin by scrutinizing the core functionality of your WordPress website. Verify the seamless operation of features, including user registration, navigation, and any custom plugins. This step is crucial, especially after recent additions such as new plugins or theme changes, addressing common WordPress errors.
  2. Cross-Device and Browser Testing: Strut your website across diverse devices and browsers to guarantee perfect styling and responsive design. Ensure a flawless user experience regardless of whether visitors are accessing your site from desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
  3. Optimize Speed and Performance: If speed and performance are on your checklist, consider the following optimizations:
    • Image Optimization: Compress and optimize images to enhance loading times.
    • CSS and JS Files Minification: Minify your WordPress CSS and JS files for efficient loading.
    • Caching: Implement caching mechanisms to boost overall site speed.
    • Content Delivery Network (CDN): Integrate a CDN to optimize content delivery globally.
  4. Enhance User Experience: Focus on the user experience by conducting a comprehensive review:
    • Identify Broken Links: Hunt for broken links and 404 errors that could disrupt the user journey.
    • Form and Contact Functionality: Thoroughly test forms and contact functionality, ensuring smooth submissions and accurate validation messages.
  5. Security Sweep: For those prioritizing security, conduct a rigorous sweep to identify vulnerabilities and fortify your site against potential threats:
    • Update Everything: Ensure all components, including plugins, themes, and WordPress itself, are up to date.
    • Strong Passwords: Reinforce security with robust passwords for all accounts.
    • Security Plugins: Leverage reliable security plugins as your cyber bodyguards, actively protecting against potential threats.

By addressing these testing aspects, you’ll be well-equipped to make informed changes and improvements to your WordPress site, ensuring a seamless and secure user experience.

5. Conclude Your WordPress Testing

Congratulations on reaching the grand finale of your WordPress testing journey! As you transition from the testing environment to your live site, follow these strategic steps for a seamless implementation:

  1. Strategic Organization: It’s not a willy-nilly affair; it’s a strategic deployment. Initiate the process with non-disruptive updates, ensuring a smooth experience for your visitors. Organize your changes methodically, starting with smaller updates before gradually introducing more significant alterations.
  2. Gradual Rollout: Avoid turbulence for your visitors by adopting a gradual rollout strategy. Introduce changes systematically to minimize the impact on user experience. This approach allows you to monitor the live site closely, addressing any unforeseen issues promptly.
  3. Polished Site Version: Your goal is to present a polished version of your site to your audience. Before each rollout, ensure that every element has been thoroughly tested, and the changes contribute positively to the overall user experience. This polished approach instills confidence in your visitors and maintains the professionalism of your online presence.

By following these steps, you’ve effectively executed your WordPress testing plan. Your live site transitions smoothly with precision, providing an enhanced experience for visitors. With a strategic and organized approach, you’ve ensured that your WordPress website remains polished, functional, and ready to impress.

Best Practices and Top WordPress Testing Tools

Now that you’ve completed the meticulous testing of your WordPress site, it’s time to ensure ongoing success by employing the best testing tools and practices. Here are key strategies for maintaining a well-performing website:

  1. Regular Updates and Testing: Keep your WordPress site in top-notch condition by frequently updating and testing. This includes updating your WordPress version, plugins, themes, and regularly backing up your site. Consistent testing ensures that your website remains reliable, secure, and equipped with the latest features.
  2. Embrace Automation for Precision: Automation is your ally in maintaining a finely-tuned website. Utilize automated testing tools to perform repetitive tasks with mechanical precision. Tools like Codeception for automated browser testing and PHP Unit for unit testing can work tirelessly to scrutinize every aspect of your WordPress site.
  3. Ensure Mobile and Browser Compatibility: Your audience accesses your site from various devices and browsers. Avoid limiting your testing to desktops; instead, prioritize mobile and cross-browser compatibility. Tools such as BrowserStack and CrossBrowserTesting facilitate comprehensive cross-browser testing, while Responsive Design Checker ensures your site’s responsiveness on diverse devices.
  4. Optimize Speed and Performance: A speedy website is paramount for user satisfaction and search engine rankings. Leverage tools like WP Rocket for caching and lazy loading, Cloudflare for Content Delivery Network (CDN) services, and Google PageSpeed Insights for in-depth speed analysis. Additionally, tools like GTmetrix and Pingdom help analyze overall site performance.
  5. Combat Broken Links: Don’t overlook the impact of broken links on user experience. Employ tools like Broken Link Checker to identify and rectify broken links, ensuring a seamless navigation experience for your visitors.

By incorporating these top testing tools and practices, you’ll maintain the optimal performance of your WordPress site, providing a satisfying user experience and boosting your site’s ranking in search engines.

FAQ Section

Q1: Why is regular testing crucial for a WordPress site?

A1: Regular testing is essential to identify and address issues promptly, ensuring your WordPress site remains secure, functional, and compatible with the latest technologies. It helps prevent potential disruptions, enhances user experience, and maintains optimal performance.

Q2: How often should I run updates on my WordPress site?

A2: Aim to run updates regularly, ideally on a monthly basis. This includes updating your WordPress core, plugins, themes, and performing backups. Regular updates help patch vulnerabilities, introduce new features, and keep your site in line with the latest industry standards.

Q3: Are automated testing tools suitable for all types of websites?

A3: Yes, automated testing tools can benefit various types of websites, regardless of their size or complexity. These tools streamline the testing process, ensuring thorough examinations of functionality, compatibility, and performance, saving time and minimizing human error.

Q4: How can I ensure mobile responsiveness in WordPress?

A4: To ensure mobile responsiveness, utilize tools like Responsive Design Checker during testing. Additionally, choose themes and plugins that prioritize responsiveness, and regularly check your site on various devices to guarantee a seamless user experience.

Q5: What precautions should I take before making changes to my live site?

A5: Before making any changes, always create a backup of your site. This serves as a safety net in case anything goes wrong during the testing or updating process. Whether through manual methods or backup plugins like UpdraftPlus, a backup ensures you can restore your site to a stable state if needed.

Glossary of Terms

  1. Staging Environment: A replica of your live website used for testing changes without affecting the actual site.
  2. Compatibility Testing: Evaluating how a website behaves across different browsers, devices, and operating systems.
  3. Usability Testing: Assessing whether users can easily navigate and interact with your website.
  4. Backup: A copy of your website’s data and files, crucial for restoring the site in case of errors or issues.
  5. Security Testing: Checking and ensuring your website’s defenses are robust against cyber threats and vulnerabilities.