I aim to make this website as easy to read and understand as possible, for those who are new to testing websites as well as those that are a bit more experienced.
Hopefully this testing glossary will provide some basic details about a term that you may not be familiar with.
Please suggest any terms not currently found in the list with an explanation of what that term means and I will add it to the list.
A/B Testing – a form of testing, also called Split Testing, where you test different versions of the same page to see which performs better. You might test whether the positioning of items on the page, design of those items or copy used in headlines or on buttons helps to convert more of your visitors to take the action that you want them to, whether that is buy something, sign up to a newsletter, register on your site or make an enquiry.
Accessibility – or Web Accessibility, which is defined by Wikipedia as ‘Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities.’
Apple Safari – a web browser produced by Apple. Mostly used on Mac desktops and laptops but is also available for Windows. Current version is 8. See also Mobile Safari. Also see Testing Resources section for Safari’s current browser share.
Automated Testing – a method of testing whereby a series of automated processes or scripts are utilised to test specific parts of a website or application. The main aims of automated testing are to carry out easily repeatable tests, which could be to carry out a greater number of tests or test more efficiently.
Browser Checking – see Browser Compatibility Testing.
Browser Compatibility Testing – a method of testing to check that a website or application works and displays correctly across the major web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple Safari, among others. May also include browsers found on mobile devices.
Browser Testing – see Browser Compatibility Testing.
Bug – a term meaning a problem with a website or application. Can also be termed as a Defect or Issue.
Bug Tracker – a piece of software or application that helps you to keep track of all the bugs found. Many bug trackers include workflow features that help to assign bugs to developers to be fixed and then close them off when completed satisfactorily. Popular bug trackers, also called defect trackers or issue trackers, include Pivotal Tracker, Bugzilla and Fogbugz. We have over 20 bug tracking tools in our directory.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – an area of testing focused on improving conversion rates for a given desired outcome, such as a user completing a purchase or submitting an enquiry. CRO often employ testing tools to test different page layouts, text, images and positioning of elements to determine which combination works best.
Defect – see Bug.
Defect Tracker – see Bug Tracker.
Functionality Testing – a method of testing to check that each piece of functionality within a website or application works correctly. The functionality might be an enquiry form, a shopping cart or a signup process. Those items of functionality need to be thoroughly tested in order to make sure that they work as intended based on what a user might do.
Google Chrome – a major desktop and mobile web browser, which is currently the most popular browser worldwide. Current version is version 41, Google Chrome updates versions regularly. See Testing Resources section for Google Chrome’s current browser share.
Internet Explorer – a major desktop and mobile web browser, made by Microsoft. Current version is version 11. See Testing Resources section for Internet Explorer’s current browser share.
Issue Tracking – see Bug Tracker.
Link Checking – a method of testing to check that links throughout a website are not broken and link to the correct page or resource. Link checking is often automated and employed on large websites comprising of thousands of URLs or web pages.
Load Testing – a method of testing that simulates a large number of users trying to access a website or application at the same time or over a short period. Load testing is used to determine how many visitors, or how much load, a website can handle. It is especially useful for ecommerce sites or sites that experience spikes in their usage such as in the period before Christmas or during particular events.
Mobile Browser – a web browser specifically designed for a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.
Mobile Device – any type of handheld computer that you can use to browse websites or use mobile applications. Typical mobile devices are smartphones, such as Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S5 and typical tablets are Apple iPad or Google Nexus 7.
Mobile Safari – a version of the Apple Safari web browser designed to be used on Apple’s mobile devices including the Apple iPhone and Apple iPad.
Mobile Testing – a method of testing to determine that a website or application works and displays correctly on a mobile device. Mobile testing may include functionality, compatibility, usability or performance testing but is concentrated on just testing on mobile devices.
Mozilla Firefox – a major desktop and mobile web browser, made by Mozilla. Current version is version 36. See Testing Resources section for Firefox’s current browser share.
Multivariate Testing – a method of testing whereby several changes in page layout can be tested at the same time and compared with the current version of a page in order to attempt to improve conversion rates. This is often a method employed in Conversion Rate Optimization.
Penetration Testing – also called pentest, is a method of security testing to attempt to gain access to a system by attacking it with a series of different tests, in order to find security weaknesses.
Performance Testing – a method of testing to find areas of a website or application that are causing slowdowns and are possibly getting overloaded or failing altogether.
Regression Testing – a method of testing where the testing of a website or application is completed again after bugs are fixed to determine whether any of the bug fixes have caused any other areas to develop problems. When preparing a new website or application, a series of regression tests may be carried out to make sure there are no new problems that require fixing.
Screen Resolution – the size of a screen is determined by its physical size, such as a 23-inch monitor for example, but also by its resolution, which is a measurement in how many pixels are capable of being displayed. This is normally shown as a width x height measurement, such as 1920 x 1080, which is the screen resolution of my monitor. Mobile devices also have screen resolutions, the iPhone 6, for example, has a resolution of 1334 x 750 (in this case that would be height x width). Understanding screen resolutions are important for responsive or adaptive web design or generally for understanding what page elements will fit and display correctly on a given resolution.
Security Testing – a method of testing to find security holes, weaknesses or vulnerabilities with a website or application.
Site Monitoring – utilising a testing tool to automatically check that a website or application remains operational. Most site monitoring tools trigger alerts if a check finds that the website is suffering an outage. More advanced monitoring tools can be scripted to step through specific user journeys, such as a checkout process, to make sure that each step is working.
Software Testing – an area of testing concerned with testing software, either online or offline software. Software testing often employs more complex testing tools to plan, execute and report on testing, as the nature of the application being tested is also more complicated.
Split Testing – see A/B Testing.
Stress Testing – see Load Testing.
Test Plan – a plan that describes what you are going to test and how you are going to test it. The purpose of the test plan is usually to set out the approach to testing, the resources that are available for testing and a schedule for the testing.
Usability Testing – a method of testing focused on making websites and applications as straightforward to use as possible. The aim of usability testing is to discover aspects that frustrate, confuse or bewilder users, which could cause them to not make a purchase or move to a competitor.
Validators – a type of testing tool that scans a web page or an entire website to validate its code against a series of web standards. Validators will usually provide a report containing a number of errors or warnings for pieces of code that do not comply with the correct standards. Also see Web Standards.
Web Analytics – a type of software that tracks and collects statistics about users visiting a website or application. Web analytics software usually then provides a way for viewing those statistics. Google Analytics is a good example of web analytics software.
Web Standards – a series of standardized best practices and web-based codes, such as HTML5 and CSS3, which define and describe the underlying details of many websites and web applications.