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Importance of Testing – Part 3: Revenge of the Requirements

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How about my Star Wars joke title? Anyone? Anyone? A little bit? Ok, great! So previously, we discussed how to lay out your requirements while trying to be realistic about them and the needs of your organization. Now, let’s take a look at the actual testing portion!

Once the developers have asked their questions and implemented the functionality requested, testing is the next logical, though sometimes not the most glamorous, step. Let me preface the next paragraph by saying: Surprises happen! It’s completely understandable – and often unavoidable – to not know what you do not know. So you take the results, bring them to the attention of the developer and work on the next iteration.

Be mindful that setting up testing data can often take longer than the actual testing. Personalization, A/B testing, Sitecore goals, campaigns, personas and more can be done in parallel, but there’s a lot of time and effort that will be needed to prep for checking a goal trigger, for example.

Personalization, a very popular trend in digital marketing, can definitely take time to prep, test and execute well to scale.  Recently, there was a CMS Experts Group meeting, organized by Janus Boye, Boye & Co, where personalization was a main focus of discussion, even with those who use content management systems (CMS) other than Sitecore. Look for more information related to the group in a future post!

Using personalization as a way to test the rest can be a very powerful tool! But before getting immediately to personalization, creating/prepping the content or Sitecore “items” needs to be done first, at least in part – and this all depends on what was in the requirements!

  • For starters, creating goals, outcomes, campaigns, and the required folder types (discriminate or indiscriminate) is pretty easy! Try creating 1-3 goals and organizing them in a single folder designated for testing. This will make it easier to filter them out in future reporting.
  • Creating test pages might be a bit obvious, but if you have more than one page type, you might need to create a lot of test pages. Additionally, if the end goal is to personalize or test a content set across the site, creating test copies of page templates might not be a bad idea.
  • Leverage as many tools as possible like the Sitecore Analytics Testing Tool. This extremely useful Chrome extension has saved a ton of testing time, allowing the user to spoof IP addresses for geo personalization, fake out clearing cache and cookies to simulate different sessions or different users, as well as assist in testing the infamous Subgroup Round Robin Sticky test strategy. Sitecore Analytics Testing Tool, I don’t know what I would do without you!
  • Testing tools outside of Sitecore (or any CMS) must be considered as well. These silent heroes can include anything from Google Sheets (don’t knock it!), testing platforms such as TestLink to thoroughly document test cases, LucidChart to visually map out a user’s digital experience or even an amazing quality assurance analyst if you have one of those handy!

If all does not go exactly as planned, continue to work towards a successful result! One thing that I have seen fairly often with the pursuit of testing content and personalization is the unwillingness to take time – time to document marketing requirements beyond the wireframes, time to build content test variations while working on the default and/or time to allocate resources to focus on maturing a strong digital strategy. But stick it out! The analytics will make it worth it.

Have questions about using some of the tools mentioned, or just want to chat about Sitecore, digital strategy or more? Fill out the lovely contact form or don’t be afraid to message me on LinkedIn and Twitter @sitecorejo. And click away if you missed Part 1 (Introduction to Importance of Testing) or 2 (Requirements for Marketers) of this series!

And for those located in Florida and the Tampa Bay area, check out the Florida Sitecore User Group and join us at the meetings. There’s one coming soon! Check out the events and stay up-to-date on Twitter @FloridaSitecore!

May the digital experience force be with you. Always!

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Jo Troxell, Senior Digital Strategy Consultant

Jo Troxell is a digital and technology analyst who has vast experience in digital strategy and implementation, quality assurance, content management, front and back end development. He drives data-led marketing efforts for his clients. Jo works with clients to help them grow their business as they focus on reaching digital maturity through personalization, A/B testing, analytics to help them grow further, faster.

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