typical testing day

“Shirley at SAA I.T provides an excellent service. Her test report was clear and detailed. I was very impressed by the advice, solutions and instructions – I was able to apply many of the devices. However, with my work commitments I decided to hand over the website and let Shirley work her magic. In much faster time than me, Shirley designed and developed it into a professional website that will be a great asset to my business.”

Nicola, Hot Tubs In France

“What is it you actually do?”

Back in the old days, when I was a test consultant in the UK, it was probably easy to describe a normal testing day. But here in France my work has changed so much, and all for the better. Instead of working for large companies, my focus is now on helping small businesses improve their online presence. So let me try and tell you, in a few words, what a typical testing day is like.

Early start

I’m not a good sleeper. My head hits the pillow and I can be asleep in a few minutes, but it’s staying asleep that’s my problem. And I wish I could blame it on something – old age my husband says. I usually wake around 4 or 5am most days, lie there for an hour and eventually I get up, as quietly as possible. I’m so practiced at these ninja-like manoeuvres I could probably serve in the S.A.S. I slide from the bed, pick up my mobile from the bedside cabinet, nip to the loo and then glide stealthily across creaking floorboards, all by the dim light of my Fitbit.

So by the time my other half wakes up at 7am, (because I always forgot to unset the alarm) I have generally logged on to my PC, had a shot of strong black coffee and checked emails in my four personal and business mailboxes. 

Next task in my typical testing day? Social Media!

 

Being sociable

Trying to produce interesting and entertaining posts for my own business pages, as well as client ones isn’t as easy as it might sound. And when you have to publish something every day then it can be a bit daunting. However, what I generally do about once a week is spend a day researching topical and trending items, that are relevant to the business pages I manage. I post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google My Business (GMB) for myself and some clients. Luckily, with Facebook and Instagram, posts can be scheduled in advance, which means I get them all done in a morning and only have to publish on LinkedIn and GMB daily. But usually I have already picked the images, ‘inspirational quotes’, and drafted the content at the start of the week.

French lessons

We moved to France in 2017 and I will make an effort to have a conversation in French with my friends and neighbours. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because I know they have led such interesting and varied lives, and I want to hear their stories. So I have 2 hours of lessons on a Monday morning – which definitely helps to exercise the brain cells. Plus there is regular homework to fit into a testing day. But I’m not complaining, I just wish I could learn quicker so I could chat with the neighbours about something other than the weather! Big shout out toLaetitia Poulter my very patient French tutor.

Blogging

As you have probably noticed, it’s been a while since I wrote my own blog, but only because I’m regularly creating blogs for my clients. Blogging can take up a lot of time, especially if the client wants a specific topic covered which requires extensive research. But I enjoy writing, and I have received some great feedback from my clients and their readers, which makes everything worthwhile. 

Great website report by Shirley. Very thorough and easy to read and implement. It was essential to have a pair of expert eyes review my website and there were quite a few quick fixes that I made after Shirley’s report. The report covered loading speed, functionality, spelling, grammar amongst many other tests

Sarah Adams – Loire Valley Llamas

Website reviews

A lot of my work comes as a result of the free business website reviews that I offer. I advertise the review service on my website and social media, and in particular, on several Facebook business groups. On average I can probably get through two website review per testing day. Anyone can ask for a review and they will receive my honest and unbiased feedback. I try not to criticise people because the majority of these business owners are individual entrepreneurs like myself, and have never built their own website before. So it’s a massive achievement for anyone to do that on top of all the other day to day business tasks, and taking care of their family.

Time for a review. Overcome your fear of criticism a testing day

Be constructive

However, there are those who seem to make it their daily mission to upset or publicly belittle others. And it was finding out how demoralised one of my clients felt when this happened to her that really brought home to me how distressing negative feedback can be. So I always word my feedback reports carefully, and I highlight the good points as well as the not so good. I also make a point of telling them that, at the end of the day, it’s only my opinion but as a visitor – and potential customer – to their website. If they don’t agree with the comments they don’t have to take any action, and I don’t get upset about it. In most instances, I’m happy to say that people do accept the feedback in the way I hope it should be taken, which is as constructive, not destructive, criticism. 

So far, I have not had a bad review, but if and when I do then I will act on their comments, and respond in a positive and professional manner (whilst silently slapping myself around the head).

Always learning

As I touched on earlier, some of my paid work comes from the free reviews. If someone has struggled to publish their website in the first place, it can be a daunting task having to make changes to fix any layout or navigation issues that I might have found. So they ask me if I can help them out. To be honest, this works well for everyone. I learn about different website design tools, apps and search engine optimisation (SEO), they get an improved site and their customers get a better user experience. It’s a win-win situation. 

Added bonus

The biggest advantage for me in doing the website reviews is that I find out about new businesses, great products and services that I might not have noticed before. And I have even bought from a few of them! Whether I buy something or not, I will always try to ‘like and share’ their business pages and posts to give them a bit of a boost. If 2020 has taught me one thing, it is to try and support small businesses as much as possible. 

Picky or perfectionist?

I have lost a client this year because they couldn’t keep up with home and business expenses during COVID-19 lockdown. I’ve heard of so many others that have closed permanently. And if it wasn’t for the fact that I can work from home, then it could easily have been me. The support of family, good friends and loyal clients has got us through this dreadful year. Yes, we have had to claim some help from the government during the worst months, but thankfully my regular client work has kept our heads above water. I have also been fortunate enough to pick up some software testing work for a large pharmaceutical company, thanks to a recommendation from an old work colleague. But testing in any shape or form makes me happy. I love finding bugs and helping to put things right. My husband says it’s because I’m picky and I have OCD, I prefer to say it’s because I’m a perfectionist. I’m still working on getting him right – but that’s another story and a different kind of testing day, and a long-term project!

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog. If you didn’t like it please let me know. And if you did like it, then can you also let me know. 

Shirley Atkinson – SAA I.T Testing

 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need additional assistance? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

How To Make Your Content Readable


If like me you spend a lot of time reading from a screen you will appreciate well written content. And I’m not talking about potential eye-strain. This is about your content being readable. Whether it’s email, website text or a blog, reading from a screen can be difficult.

Let’s talk about blogs first, because generally they will be the longest and most frequently written. As well as being relevant and interesting, your blog posts have to be readable. If they’re not, then your audience probably won’t even finish reading them. 

Child holding his face in his hands

Know your audience

First of all, make sure your text is at the right level for your target audience. For example, when I prepare instruction manuals for system users I keep it simple. I write them as if every reader is a new user, and that way everybody will understand it. User Guides are a good example because they’re not just for trainees. Experienced users will refer to them too, especially if there is an area they’re not familiar with. 

Blogging is the same. It’s easy for me to be enthusiastic about website testing because it’s my job. But if I’m going to write an article about how to improve your website, it has to be interesting and readable for my target audience. 

Plan your paragraphs

When you’re starting any blog make it clear from the beginning what the topic is, then go into more detail as you continue writing. This helps the reader understand the concept of your article from the outset. Try not to make your paragraphs too long, and keep your sentences short as well.

Writing in a notebook

How many times have you started to read something and had to start again because the sentences drag on? Sentences containing more than 20 words are considered to be too long. Also, if they are shorter there is less chance of you making grammatical errors. 

Check out the example below. This paragraph is an extract from a Yoast.com blog post. I have edited it to show you how not to write a paragraph.

If you really want original pictures that fit your post you should make your own photos. Taking your own photos ensures that you’ll show an original picture; one that can never be found on another blog and on top of that this allows you to shoot a photo that truly fits the content of your post so if you’re blogging about your day-to-day life taking your own pictures is definitely the way to go. That also goes for food blogs or for a company blog or a technical blog or anything else for that matter, it’s much harder to take pictures that actually fit the content of the posts you’re writing.

Punctuation

Even with a few commas in there to break up the sentences, it is still very difficult to follow. The sentences are far too long. Think about how you have a conversation. You don’t talk without taking a breath, so why would you expect someone to read without punctuation?

This is the original, unedited version of the same paragraph. 

If you really want original pictures that fit your post, you should make your own photos. Taking your own photos ensures that you’ll show an original picture, one that can never be found on another blog. On top of that, this allows you to shoot a photo that truly fits the content of your post. If you’re blogging about your day-to-day life, taking your own pictures is definitely the way to go. That also goes for food blogs. For a company blog or a technical blog, or for Yoast.com for that matter, it’s much harder to take pictures that actually fit the content of the posts you’re writing.

Simply put

The other thing to consider is vocabulary. Try to limit the use of long words because if they have four or more syllables they are considered difficult to read. I have read articles where the author appears to have deliberately thrown in long words. It puts me off a bit because then I start to wonder whether they are just trying to be clever, or if they are trying to confuse me?

Of course, depending on your blog topic you might need to use advanced vocabulary and terminology. But if your paragraphs and sentences aren’t too long, then it should still be readable. 

Transition words

My business website is on WordPress, and there is a really useful tool that you can use to help create readable content. Yoast SEO checks the sentence and paragraph lengths as you’re writing. It also checks whether you are using enough transition words and sub-headings. These are all elements which make your content more readable.

Great article with good readable content

It annoyed the hell out of me to start with, because I just could not grasp ‘transition words‘.  But I’m fairly happy with this article at the minute, because I can see I have got two green traffic lights for SEO and Readability.

You probably use transition words quite naturally when you are speaking. However, it can be difficult to use them in the right place when you are writing. And when you are trying to include enough transition words to improve the readability, it’s very tempting to use the same ones. This is another ‘No-No’. Try to avoid repetition and using the same words over and over and over again.

Because I draft my blogs in a word or Google document, if I’m struggling to come up with an alternative word I use the inbuilt grammar and spell-checking tools. So to find a similar word I ‘right-click’ in my document and check out the synonyms.  This will give you other examples of words that have the same or nearly the same meaning as the word you have highlighted. It’s really useful, and is yet another way to keep your readers happy, joyful and elated. 

If you want your readers to get to the end of your blog post, make sure that your text is easy to read. Don’t make your text more difficult than you have to. Avoid long sentences and write clear paragraphs.

Yoast SEO

Finally

My top tip though is read whatever you have written out loud before you publish it. Reading on screen is difficult and it’s easy to miss spelling and grammatical errors. If you read it out loud it will also help you find sentences that are too long. 

If you have enjoyed reading this article please ‘like and share’ to support a small business.

Sharing is Caring! 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need additional assistance? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed