Thousands of businesses worldwide face the challenge of establishing their web presence; a goal difficult to achieve without efficient web site development and testing tools. If someone where to ask you how good your website was, how would you answer; could you answer? There are so many factors to take into consideration, such as code validation, speed of download accessibility, usability etc, that there is no one correct answer and subsequently no one website that can provide you the definitive answer.
This article was inspired by a great blog post at Aviva Directory, entitled Grade Your Website: 31 Free Online Tests.
Below is a compendium of tools I use on a regular basis to test website I work on, based on Aviva Directory’s headings (incidentally they list the same tools I use regularly).:
The WDG HTML Validator is an excellent tool for identifying syntax errors on pages driven by markup languages. There is also an option to recursively check for errors on every page in the website directory, which is invaluable when checking large, dynamic websites.
The W3C Link Checker searches for and identifies broken links for a given URL. The tool specifically checks that all the links are de-referenceable, no links and anchors are defined twice and warns about invalid http and directory redirects.
Watchfire’s WebXACT is a must use tool for all serious designers and developers. The tool lets you test single pages and generates a very detailed report on the quality, accessibility and privacy of a website.
Web Page Analyzer from Website Optimization is an excellent tool that calculates page size, composition, and download time. The script calculates the size of individual elements and sums up each type of web page component (objects, CSS, images etc). Based on these page characteristics the script then offers advice on how to improve page load time. The script incorporates best practices web site optimisation techniques into its recommendations.
Browsershots is a tool, created by Johann C. Rocholl, which takes screenshots of your website in various browsers and platforms including Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows, Firefox and Safari on Mac OS X and Iceweasal and Konqueror on Linux. When the user submits a URL it is added to a job queue. Unfortunately the queue requires you to wait up to three hours before retrieving your screenshots, but the results provide a clear indication of how the website will be received by different user setups.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO Workers SEO Analysis Tool is an extremely useful tool that analyses an assortment of page features including meta tags, keyword density and load time. A user simply submits a URL for testing and the report is returned.