James Hepton, founder and managing director of TestApproved, discusses the challenges SMEs face when trying to ensure their websites are as good as they can be.
Tell us about TestApproved. What is the business about and how do you operate?
TestApproved is a front-end website testing service for businesses. The service allows businesses to test all parts of their website covering content, functionality, search engine compliance and mobile performance. We test everything manually with our UK based team who are all experts in their field with years of experience heading up digital projects for SMEs. As a result, we are able to not only offer insight in to any issues but also to offer feedback and recommendations on how a site could improve its layout, content and technical elements. The service is innovative in the way our customers interact with us.
Traditional testing companies may offer solutions with expensive commitments, in terms of both time and money, working on full-scale testing plans as bespoke pieces of work. We have made it easy to make testing part of an SMEs processes with simple online submission of pre-created test plans. For example, an SME could test their home page or they could test their entire checkout process by simply submitting their URL to us through our site. All of our issues are tracked and shared via our easy-to-use, cloud-based bug tracking service.
How did you discover there was a demand for your kind of services?
The team and I have all worked in SMEs for many years. I have only ever worked in SMEs personally and I have always found the same story. SMEs need to run lean and as a result, testing websites and new launches are usually an afterthought and very few SMEs have dedicated in-house testing teams. Why would they? They’re not an agency, they’re not launching new sites and pages every day so the ideal would be a testing service that’s quick to use and is completely flexible depending on the requirements of the business.
Why can’t SMEs just self-test their websites? What extra to you bring to the table?
I think ultimately it comes down to how much time and resource you have and how finely toothed your comb is. When we test a site we test everything. We click every link, we read every word and we check every major browser for display issues – including mobile. We have expert knowledge on the things Google et al want to see on a site as well as looking at the more technical elements such as URL structure, meta descriptions and external CSS. It can be a very time-consuming process which we are well drilled in. We can do it in a faster and more cost effective way with the added bonus of getting fresh, knowledgeable eyes on a site.
What kind of companies have you been working with?
We’ve recently been working with digital agencies, helping them to free up their design and development resource to work on design and development rather than being pulling on to testing. It’s really nice when I speak to an agency and they immediately engage and start asking questions like ‘What browsers do you test on?’, you know those are the ones taking testing seriously. I actually had one agency tell me that their landlord takes care of QA (Quality Assurance) testing for them, I had to explain the difference between us and PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing).
How do you expect your business to develop in the future?
I would like us to become a trusted partner for SMEs to test their new sites and developments quickly, cheaply and effectively. I think that there is also a real opportunity for SMEs using digital agencies to come to us to make sure that their agency is doing everything they should be. There are plenty of agencies out there doing it right but there are plenty cutting corners to get a project delivered as quickly as possible, which I’ve seen first-hand.