Testing is the only way to make sure everything works well. Not all themes and plugins work as you want them to work. Even when you are “live” with your website you will have to test from time to time to be sure everything works and looks well. For example before and after updating WordPress, the theme or a plugin.
A poor or not functioning plugin or theme doesn’t say everything about that plugin or theme. Yes, there are poorly coded plugins and themes out there. That won’t work well with other plugins or just don’t work at all. There are themes that make it impossible to add plugins. And there are themes and plugins that are outdated.
That is why you always have to be prepared. You always have to test plugins and themes before you put them on your website. To make sure they function well, look good en you know all or at least most of their settings. Getting comfortable with the settings is also a part of testing everything!
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Test, test, test!
After a thorough search for the right theme and plugins, it’s time to install them, discover all the options, configure everything to your likings and test it all.
I test everything on a live website (not going to tell you which…). It may be easier for you to install a web server on your own personal computer. Or you create a subfolder on your website with restricted access. The latter option may come in handy when testing plugins that connect to social media or API’s you can’t reach from your local web server.
Take notes of your finding during the testing process. When you encounter technical problems, it is easier that way to explain it to the developer. And it a good method to remember all the settings the moment you go live with the theme or plugin. They don’t all have a settings export/import function.
- Install and activate plugins one by one. If something might go wrong, you cab safely assume it’s the last plugin that triggered it. Like a conflict with another plugin or with the theme.
- If something goes wrong after activating a plugin, deactivate it and see if everything is back to normal. If so, you have a starting point to look for the source of the problem.
- Try all the options of a plugin one by one. Also activate or configure options that you might not use. Maybe they turn out to be useful. At least you know what it does.
- Always read the documentation of the developer.
- Does a plugin or theme keep giving you trouble, even after consulting with the developer, go look for an equivalent alternative.
- Have you decided not to use a plugin or theme, delete it as soon as possible. Keep the website clean!
- Keep record of the themes and plugins you aren’t going to use and why. You don’t want to re-test a theme or plugin you’ve dismissed a few months earlier. Unless you have a very good memory.
- Search on Google and/or on the website of the developer for known issues. Like the compatibility with other plugins. Compare this with your own installation. This may save you a lot of time and frustration even before you’ve installed the plugin or theme.
- Thoroughly test your website after you went live with the theme or plugin. It may look well on your test site, but does it on the live site too?
- Test the performance of your website before and after the activation of a theme or plugin. It’s an indication for the possible extra page load time it may cause.
Let others test
Finally a less obvious tip, but one that can make a difference: let other people test! Ask family, friends or colleagues to test your website and have them report their findings. Select people that don’t have a lot of ICT skills and use the internet “because it’s there”. You might be surprised!
By testing thoroughly you get to know the theme and plugins well. You discover how you can use it, what effect it has on the looks and functionality of your website, what the effect is on the performance. You will get better in maintaining your website, because you know how it works and how it’s built up. Testing can save you time and frustration.
Any thought on testing themes and plugins? Please share them in the comments below!