Testing fails happen all the time and usually when you least expect them. I stumble across a lot of website issues and document some of them on this blog to point out what appears to have gone wrong plus include some steps that could be followed to prevent this type of error happening again.
You don’t have to be actually testing to find problems and this is the case here. I was having a look at the Feedback Army website, which is a usability testing tool that is currently the most popular tool of its type in our testing tools directory.
I was thinking of writing a review of Feedback Army and so was poking around their website at https://www.feedbackarmy.com/.
The Feedback Army site doesn’t have many pages, they like to keep it simple (and usable). But on several of their pages there is a link to ‘Usability Testing Tips’. It looked interesting so I clicked on it, and hit a big error (see below).
Your server is running PHP version 5.1.6 but WordPress 3.3-aortic-dissection requires at least 5.2.4.
The blog post containing Feedback Army’s usability testing tips cannot be displayed because of some silly server error. Most users click back at this point and possibly click off Feedback Army altogether.
If we look into the error in more detail, we can see that Feedback Army’s blog uses a version of the popular WordPress blogging software, something called WordPress 3.3-aortic-dissection. This version of WordPress needs to have PHP version 5.2.4 in order to work but the current server only has PHP version 5.1.6 and so the error is displayed.
You would expect website monitoring to pick up this kind of error, as the error is not restricted to just this URL but to the whole of blog.feedbackarmy.com (I get the same error if I try blog.feedbackarmy.com or blog.feedbackarmy.com/usability-testing/.
However, because there is a response from the webserver (even those the response is an error message) it may be that the website monitoring has not been set up to recognise this as an error. The URL returns a 200 OK response from the server and so the website monitoring (if there is some in place) may think that everything is ok.
You can run a server response code check on any URL here – https://www.seotools.com/server-response-checker/
Even if you go to one of those websites that tell you whether a website is down for everyone or just who, this is the response you get:
To monitor your website more effectively for this kind of error, you could set up your monitoring to check for a specific piece of text so that if an error such as the above is displayed, it will trigger your monitoring to alert you that it couldn’t find the text you specified.
Of course, the root cause of the problem was upgrading to a version of WordPress without checking the server requirements of the upgrade. But at least, with better monitoring in place, this error could have been caught earlier and a decision made as to whether to roll back to a previous version of WordPress or upgrade PHP to the required version.
I just hope this problem hasn’t cost Feedback Army too many potential customers of its usability testing software.