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User Acceptance Testing, Chrome Extensions, & Performance

Browser extensions cause problems. You’ll give yourself, and your dev team, massive headaches…

At DiversDirect, I ran into a load of issues with website QA because of my browser plugins. Took me a LONG time to figure out the cause — my extensions were throttling page performance. A lot.

I mean, a LOT.

Ultimately I wound up uninstalling them and doing all my QA in a Chrome incognito window (as well as naked installs of Firefox and Edge). This reduced page load time 30-50% — from Crisis! to Needs improvement. I only wish we could struggle out of Needs improvement into Fast.

So I wasn’t terribly surprised when I saw the insane impact so many Chrome extensions have on performance (via Hacker Newsletter). I had quite a few of the worst offenders installed on my workstation:

  • ColorPick Eyedropper
  • Dashlane (hate it, required for work)
  • Evernote web clipper
  • Ghostery
  • LastPass (for personal password management)
  • Selenium IDE
  • Skype

One of the extensions — not sure which — delayed user interaction by a full five seconds after all the site content was loaded. WTF?

The JavaScript Errors Notifier caused issues, too — because sometimes it reported errors related to my extensions interacting with the page rather than the page itself. I just about drove the developers crazy reporting a bunch of errors (with screenshots!) they couldn’t recreate.

Me: “Something’s wrong.”
Dev: “No, it isn’t.”
Me: “I have pics.”
Dev: “I can’t recreate it.”
Me: “There is no spoon.”

(Pro tip: DO NOT send screenshots of javascript errors to [email protected] or [email protected] email addresses. NOBODY likes getting those.)

Lesson learned! Now I have a much leaner set of extensions.

Evernote is AWESOME. Evernote Web Clipper SUCKS.

Here’s the take-away: when you’re doing QA or UAT in staging or production, make sure your extensions aren’t causing problems. Otherwise you’ll give yourself, and your dev team, massive headaches.

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