There are so many ways to configure your site to scale and grow your business. Before you go live with site updates, we encourage you to test it out to limit disruptions to your end users and confirm site behavior. Because each site is so unique, it's tough to give an exact roadmap to test every scenario. We hope these guidelines will help you along your testing journey!
Scenarios to Test Your Site
Some scenarios that might trigger your team to test your site are below:
Setting Up New User Flows
- Basically anything related to how your learners gain access to your site or content. Some examples include a new registration code, a new panorama, a new ecommerce flow, or even implementing SSO.
New Feature Implementation
- See something you like in Office Hours or a recent release? Make sure to test out the new feature you're implementing. This might look different depending on the feature, but most of the time, there is a way to test before launching the feature to learners.
Launching New Content
- Whether you are just starting to build or you've spent hours shaping your new content, there are ways to test throughout the authoring process.
Designing New Pages or Widgets
- Custom pages are a great way to utilize our default widgets to their maximum capabilities. Or maybe you are implementing a feature that uses a new widget. After launching a custom page or new widget, any future updates are live right away, so we encourage lots of testing before going live.
As you go through the rest of the article, you'll find there are multiple ways to test depending on what you are updating. We hope you can use this information to find the best place and way to test out your unique instance.
Where to Test
There are multiple locations in the platform where you might find it useful to test out different scenarios. It really depends on what you are testing.
Testing inside of content can be useful when you're in the process of building new content. Here are some suggestions for testing inside of content:
- Preview Options. Your content doesn't have to be ready to go live before you start testing it. As a manager role, use the preview page and preview content options in content authoring as you build the content.
- Tagging Structure. Tags can be a great tool to use to keep track of content statuses like draft, review, testing, etc. You can filter on tags and see them all at a glance in the main content list.
- Edit This Page button. Use the preview content option to navigate around the course as a manager role. While previewing, you can use the Edit this page button to jump back into authoring on any page in a course.
- Sandbox Content Copy. If you have a sandbox, we always recommend building content there first. Then you can copy the course to your live site once it's ready to go. Once copied, your outline and content will transfer, but make sure you check content settings as not everything will copy over.
- Don't Release Until Ready. If you are testing in your live site, we recommend not releasing the content until it's ready to go live.
- Learner Role Testing. Tests, quizzes, reflections, or anything with learner input should be tested as a learner role, not an admin.
Sandboxes are extremely useful to test anything new to your site, especially after you've launched your live site. Once you're ready to grow and scale your business, we highly recommend using a sandbox to test. The following scenarios are some examples of how a sandbox can come in handy for testing:
- Content creation. You can copy content from your sandbox to your live site. It's always best to double check content settings once copied over, but your outline and content will always transfer.
- Confirming behavior. Sandboxes provide a way to test behavior of anything from panoramas to specific click paths to how catalog sort works.
- Testing new user flows. Whether you're introducing a new subscription, a new content catalog, or maybe even turning on ecommerce for the first time, a sandbox is a low risk environment to make sure these flows are working the way you want them to before going live.
- Creating new custom pages and widgets. Iterating and improving on your site's design can be easier in a sandbox where you can be sure it's only for your eyes as you test.
Content is currently the only item you can copy from your sandbox to production, so anything outside of content would have to be recreated in your live site.
Sandboxes are a premium feature. Reach out to Thought Industries Tech Success & Support for more information.
Panoramas are a great way to stay organized while testing certain aspects of the platform. Here are some ideas for ways you can utilize a panorama for testing:
- New Content as Learners. Once your content is ready to go, you can provision it to the panorama without releasing it anywhere else. Then you can use a learner role (one that you've created for testing and is in this same panorama) to take the content. This way you can have the same experience your learners will have and test things that require learner input, like tests and reflections.
- Updating Dashboard Design. If you use the global dashboard layout, any updates you make there will immediately go live. You can create a custom dashboard for this panorama to work on a new design without anyone else seeing the changes. Once ready, you can make the changes for the global layout and have minimal disruption to your learners.
- Registration/Redemption Code Flow. Granting access via codes to your test panorama is a great way to see what the user flow is like for access codes (this is your
/redeempage for your site).
- SSO User Flows. Because there is an option to set up SSO for specific panoramas, you can set up SSO for just the one panorama you are using for testing.
- Client Roles. Use a test panorama to explore what default client manager roles, like Client Admin or Client Managers, can do and see in your platform. To test these, you would need to create new accounts for these roles (you cannot impersonate manager roles). It's also a good idea to test out custom client roles in this panorama so you can see the permissions you chose in action.
Custom pages are a way to test new designs for overall pages, but also specific widget testing. Here are some guidelines and scenarios for testing with custom pages:
- Custom HTML Widgets. Building anything custom might take some tweaking. Use a custom page to switch between editing and the final product easily and no worries about others seeing the in progress version.
- Test Assets. Test out default widgets with your images or resources to see how it will look to learners.
- Keep it unpublished. You can keep Publish Page disabled until you're ready for final checks. While you're working on it, you can still view the page as a manager.
- Test as a Learner. Once you're ready to do a final check, we recommend publishing the page and using a learner role with ideal access to make sure everything is showing up the way you want it to. If you are not pointing to this custom page URL anywhere on your site, it would be tough for someone to stumble upon the live page. If you'd like to be extra cautious though, you can set up a prerequisite course for the page (recommend a test course that no real learners have completed). Next, manually mark the course as complete for your test learner. Then only your test learner can view the page.
Using Roles: Manager vs. Learner
As a manager or administrator, there are many ways to preview the platform as you are creating new experiences, but you can't get the full learner experience without using an actual learner account. Here are some reasons to explain why this is the case:
- Manager roles have more access to content than learners (Administrators always have full access to content). This means mangers cannot test out any new purchase or enrollment flows from a learner's perspective as they have the ability to simply access content at any time.
- Managers are already signed in and considered registered. Therefore, managers cannot view any flows that apply to signed out users or registration flows.
Once you are ready to see what the learner's experience will be, we recommend using actual learner accounts to finish testing. This is an invaluable part of testing and can reveal a number of things you want to edit before you go live. Here are some tips for testing with a learner account:
- No dual roles. We do not recommend using a dual role account to test as a learner. Use a learner only account to perform tests so you know you're seeing what your end users will.
- Email can be real or fake. If you are testing email notifications, using a real email becomes necessary. To avoid creating multiple new emails, the platform does accept email variations using the plus sign trick. Simply add a + to the end of your email username (but before the @). Example: firstname.lastname@example.org. However, some testing can be done without using a real email. Just something to keep in mind.
- Incognito windows or different browsers. Using an incognito window or a different browser to login as your learner account offers a couple of advantages. You can easily switch between your manager interface and your learner interface without logging out and back in. Using this method, you can also make edits and see the results on the fly by refreshing your learner window. We recommend using this process when you are doing end-to-end UAT testing.
- Impersonate learner accounts. To easily switch to a learner and view the experience quickly, you can impersonate your test learner account. It can be quicker than logging in to the learner account in an incognito window, but you will be logged out of your manager account. Also note that any actions you take when impersonating are recorded.
- Set up personas. Use naming conventions for the test learner accounts (name and emails) to help you easily identify what the account is meant for. This can help you to know when an account is used for testing, filter out test learner accounts in reporting if needed, and even potentially mention what access the learner has. Chrome profiles can be especially useful if you are testing email notifications - simply switch to the test learner's Chrome profile to jump into their email.
Widgets to Test
Some widgets are very different when viewing as a manager vs. a learner. In these cases, we recommend testing the following widgets with your test learner accounts:
Dashboard widgets: Learner Access, Dashboard Stats, Badges & Leaderboard
- It's best to login as your test learner account and interact with content and other user flows to test out dashboard widgets.
Discussion widgets & experiences: Communities, Linked Reflection Manager, Discussion Pages and Threads in Courses
- Managers have more permissions than learners on any discussion threads - like being able to delete any comments. To view what your learners will experience, login as one of your test learner accounts.
Recently Viewed widget
- This widget relies on a learner account interacting with content. It will not populate for manager roles.
Recommendation Content widget
- Either based on a Recommendation Assessment or Recommendation Engine, this widget will have different experiences for managers vs. learners. It's important to use a test learner account to go through the assessment flow or view the engine results.
Featured Content widgets
- This comes back to access permissions. Certain manager roles will have access to all content or more content than your ideal learner. Make sure to set up a test learner account with similar access to your ideal learner. Then login and view these widgets to ensure the learner is getting the experience you're aiming for.