Website Upgrading: Is it Death by Sheer Boredom or Russian Roulette?

February 11, 2019 | General | Share via:
Website Upgrading: Is it Death by Sheer Boredom or Russian Roulette?

Let’s say you’re the webmaster, or head of marketing at a mid-sized college, responsible for the school’s website.  Your last website redesign was two and a half years ago and besides installing a few cool new plugins you really haven’t touched the core back-end and front-end components that make up your site.  It was working fine so why mess with it.

Well, things just changed.  The Dean of the college just got sent an email about website security vulnerabilities and the associated risks, and now he’s asking you.  Sure enough, after you read the article and poked around a bit, your CMS vendor, database vendor, application server vendor, and front-end framework, all have released new versions that address known security exploits, as well as adding new capabilities.  Also, most of those cool new plugins, aren’t new anymore. You’re running version 1.x and they’re on version 4.

So you and your small team of two others, who comprise the whole web team, get together to figure out the plan.   Fortunately one of your team members, Allen, is a systems wiz and he doesn’t think it will take that long to download all the new releases and run the upgrades.   So Allen volunteered to do that part and now you and Sue are tasked with testing the site. You need to just make sure that nothing breaks. Sounds easy.


Your website has over 10,000 pages.  The Dean’s pet project two years ago was to make it responsive, very interactive and work seamlessly across all devices.  You know the effort that was put into getting everything to work just right back then, so you know how particular he’ll be that everything works just as well after the upgrade.

With this in mind, you and Sue start to think about your testing options.  Here’s what you’re thinking...

Let’s just divide and conquer.  We’ll split up all the pages into five buckets and enlist Bob and Mary from marketing to help test.  After Allen finishes the upgrade, each will review his pages, and report any errors or oddities spotted.  Sounds good.

Ok, let see 10,000 in our site, divided by 5, that’s only 2,000 pages each.  Oops, forgot that we need to test on mobile and tablet devices. Ok, that’s 30,000 pages divided by 5.  Ugh, 6,000 pages each. What if we find issues and need to test the fixes? Ugh again! Multiple rounds of testing 6,000 pages?

If it takes a minute a page, 6,000 pages will take each of us 100 hours.  That’s two and a half weeks of doing nothing else but looking at web page after web page. Sigh. Sounds like sheer boredom, and I might as well write off seeing any of my son’s lacrosse games for the next couple weeks.

Ok, let’s adjust the plan a bit. Instead of testing every page, we’ll only test a subset of them.   Maybe a dozen or so of each type. Yes. That’s it.   

Ok, instead of 10,000 pages we can now only test 2,500.  Times two other devices, that’s only 7,500 in total as compared to 30,000.   Maybe we can even get Allen to help out and divide the number by 6. Great only 1,250 pages each.  So now we are down to 20 hours each. I’ll still be cross-eyed at the end of the week, but it’s better than three weeks of pain.

Hmmm.  But, how can we be sure that there are no issues on pages that we didn’t test?  What if something goes wrong on those pages and the Dean sees them?

UGH again.  Neither approach sounds very good.  It’s either death by boredom, or if we take shortcuts, it’s like playing Russian roulette and at some point, I’m sure we’re gonna lose.

There’s got to be a better way!

(Drum roll, please...)

Luckily, as I was researching online for a solution, I stumbled upon a new and very affordable cloud-based visual testing tool at, designed specifically to help test website upgrades.  We can use it to almost totally eliminate our manual testing.

All we need to do is to point the tool at our website before we do the upgrade and let it take screen capture snapshots of all of our pages, across all of the different responsive breakpoint sizes that our site supports.    And then after Allen finishes the upgrade, we do the same and have it take snapshots of all the pages post-upgrade.

The tool then compares each screen capture, pixel-by-pixel to see if anything is different.  Even the slightest changes will be detected and marked as “Different”. Any page that is exactly the same, is marked as “Same” and we don’t have to worry about these - we know they are identical and we’re not affected by the upgrade.  We can then quickly review all the differences by cycling through the images like a carousel, seeing each page’s pre and post screen capture displayed side-by-side with a redlined version (or in another mode, I choose like with a vertical splitter or even flickering between the pre and post upgrade images to see subtle changes).    

And because it’s totally automated we can test all of our pages overnight!  (Maybe I can catch my son’s lacrosse games.)

What’s cool too, is that as we view the differences that are found, we can also tag them, putting them into categorized buckets to be fixed.  Then, once the fix is made we can rerun the test on just those tagged pages or any page individually.

The tool also will catch and report to us any JavaScript or resource loading issues, which might cause issues for visitors as they interact with the page.

Wow. I can’t wait to tell the rest of the team.  

--- is the only cloud-based, automated visual testing tool designed to help you efficiently and affordably test your website upgrade. Whether it’s a major version upgrade, service pack or security patch, you can quickly test your entire site, no matter how large, to uncover any lurking issues due to the upgrade.

Don't waste time manually testing your next Website upgrade. Visit and sign up for a free trial.

For more detailed information about best practices on upgrading your website and improving your website maintenance processes, we recommend reading The Ultimate Guide to Upgrading and Patching Your Website.

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