The development team spent weeks, even months developing a website or mobile app, they went through the code several times, and it looks ready to be delivered to the client. But is it really?
In the flood of digitally packed information, sites and brands, only the fittest have the chance to fight for consumer attention. And before their websites or apps hit the market, they usually pass a thorough quality assessment.
It’s not final until it’s QA-ed
Quality Assurance (QA) is a process that tests a website or an app against various odds to locate code issues, less-than-perfect UX flow, and potential bugs slowing down its functionalities.
The sites or apps built for businesses are made to not only deliver on promised functionalities but also to provide a smooth user experience and impressive design. The final product must be optimized from every angle before it is to be used (and judged) by the ever more demanding audience.
QA is usually done by the development team and overseen by the project manager. It complements well with a similar yet different approach of validating the product, i.e., user testing. End users provide another perspective and feedback including reports on confusing parts, consumer-unfriendly site/app map, or user journey that parts ways with the user flow predicted by the client.
Investment, not expense
The aim of QA is to detect issues before a product hits the online shelves. While quality improvement usually comes after a product has started being used by the public, QA works as a preventative measure to save the client the trouble (and money) in the long run.
QA is an established practice in various industries, such as medical, consulting, and even aerospace. In general terms, there are two main pillars of quality assurance processes: first, a product should fit the intended purpose, and second, weaknesses and issues should be fixed before releasing it.
In the IT niche, specifically in website or app development, QA is typically applied to three main levels:
- Design testing
- Functionality testing
- Validation testing
In design testing, a project’s overall appearance is tested in different scenarios and set-ups. Both home and landing pages should be examined for mobile responsiveness on various operating systems and devices.
Content, too, is an essential part of a project’s appearance. All included material – be it written, visual or audio – should be checked for typos, viruses, and supported formats. Going a step further, SEO testing adds significant power to all site-related content.
The set-up of a website/app should breathe and allow for clear navigation. Accessibility features such as captions, alt tags, and even color choices seriously influence the user and the level of their engagement.
Functionality testing ensures proper loading, performance, and navigation of a site or app on all browsers and all devices. It examines the operation of both basic (search, plugins, links, and CTAs) as well as advanced functions (contact forms, input fields, CAPTCHAs).
This step of the QA process engages the whole development team, as well as product designers and managers. It should not only focus on code but on all elements that contribute to loading time and performance, such as image size and typography. The website/app is made to deliver on the intended purpose, and every little detail counts.
Functionality testing is particularly important in e-commerce and online marketplace projects where the poor operation is linked directly to lower revenue. A profitable site should avoid confusion and convince users to take action. Therefore, its features and functions must be optimized to deliver on the set business goal.
In validation testing, the final result is compared to the client’s requirements, blueprints, and previously handed documents. It should provide answers to questions such as, “Does the product serve the purpose of the project?” and “Does everything work as it should?”
Throughout the process, the project manager or QA tester works closely with the client to make sure the development follows the guidelines and objectives of the project. Before releasing the alpha version, QA examines the product based on a preset validation checklist.
A validation test can be done manually or using various testing tools. If the QA discovers a lack of deliverables provided by the client, the product should be fixed and optimized before the public notices.
The benefits of QA
Even though it comes at a cost and requires extra time and workforce to perform, QA prevents the launch of a half-baked product. The long-term benefits of QA include:
- Higher efficiency of website or app
- Fewer vulnerabilities and lower operating risks
- Lower need for future time-consuming fixes which saves on the long-term maintenance budget
- Improved of the total life cycle of a website/app
- Optimal user experience and customer satisfaction
- Better track record and a higher rate of activity which directly boosts revenue
- Stronger brand image and credibility
With QA towards optimal products and market success
QA is a preventative measure that detects issues and allows for fixing before the users encounter them. It is a crucial part of the development process that helps the project optimize its performance, functionality and user experience.
When done right, QA connects a client with several departments working on a project, as it compiles a multidisciplinary set of tasks.
Before a website or app reaches the public release and starts generating revenue for the client, the QA can help increase its functionality in various scenarios and support the overall positive image of the brand.