You may have heard the term ‘Quality Assurance’ at one point or another, but what exactly does that mean and why does it matter to you? The answers here can vary, so for the sake of this post, we’ll narrow our focus down to the wide world of web design and development.
This includes everyone that interacts with the web, the designers and developers, the clients hiring them for their work, as well as the users that interact with that final product. So, let’s cover those basic questions we all learned in elementary school; what, who, where, when, and why?
What is Quality Assurance (or QA)?
If you were to do a Google search for Quality Assurance, it would return:
“The maintenance of a desired level of quality in a service or product, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process of delivery or production.”
When it comes to web design, this means producing a product and/or service that follows the requested specification, without errors or potential problematic issues for users. Our clients are paying for a product that provides better resources and usability to their users, while also helping to increase their business or awareness. So to simplify this even further, QA is the testing process that’s implemented to ensure quality standards are met, and that the overall usability plays nicely with everyone who interacts with it.
Who is responsible for QA?
Anyone can test a website or application, right? Well, sort of, but there are certain skills and traits that aid in making a good candidate for the job. A detail-oriented eye is necessary, as well as a basic understanding of the project and the development process. Having a passion for quality, the ability to put yourself in the seat of the user, and a test-to-break attitude are all great traits to have as well.
The QA tester should also be separate from the developers and designers. As they’re working on the same part of a project over and over again, it can sometimes cause a tunnel view effect on the work they’ve recently done, which can cause potential issues to be overlooked. The tester goes into QA mode looking for issues by breaking down each section, and reporting back on the things to be fixed or improved upon; before it’s released to the rest of the world.
Where does QA take place?
Technology is a big melting pot, and because there are so many options out there—with more popping up every day—it is important to keep this in mind for QA. In order to catch as many issues as possible, testing needs to be done across the board. The main web browsers and devices that are most commonly used by the population should be the main chunk of QA, while keeping in mind that these favorites could eventually be replaced in the future.
If you have access to Google Analytics for the current site, use it! Knowing how much traffic generally comes from each browser, device and operating system is very helpful in determining the test plan. If the majority of the user base is working with Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7, start testing there and with considerable detail; as I’m sure we all know, Internet Explorer can be funny sometimes and needs an extra eye during testing anyways.
When should QA be done?
QA is an ongoing process. It starts as soon as the project has been defined and continues on into the future; it’s a journey, not a sprint. There are issues that can arise at any point in time. Something could come up during the development process, after the site has launched, or when software is updated. As technology advances, so should QA.
Why is QA important?
We could answer this just by asking ourselves why we want quality in a product and/or service. Because we don’t want to invest in something (whether it be time or money) that will end up breaking or frustrating us beyond belief, right?
Our clients aren’t paying for an unsatisfactory product, just as the designers and developers don’t want to show that off as their polished work. Afterall, they don’t want to lose business or have negative reviews floating around out there, so that level of quality needs to be there in the first place. Not to mention, the users want a good experience, not a headache.
Spending the time on proper QA is necessary for a project to succeed. Here at VIA Studio, we place a high value on this step. All of our projects go through a rigorous QA period, so both ourselves and our clients are always putting our best foot forward.
How, exactly, is the QA process implemented?
Well, my friends, this is a question for another blog post coming soon. In the meantime, check out more on how Quality Assurance creates better user experiences!