QA: What is it, and what does it do
If you work or dabble around the development of websites you’ve likely heard the term ‘QA’ being mentioned. And while those of us closely linked to the building and implementation of sites understand what QA means and its importance in the process, this can sometimes get lost to those not so closely involved. So let’s pull the curtain back on this process and make it clearer for us all.
So what is QA?
QA stands for Quality Assurance and is the process in which we ensure that a website is delivered and performs as expected. While those that carry out this process are known as QA developers, they generally remain separate to the design and development of the site but act as a bridge between them and a final check to ensure user satisfaction. Through their review and investigation of a site, they aim to uncover any errors or bugs present; as well as ensure that the staging site matches the designs in terms of both the UI and UX.
The QA process is a continuous and ongoing process that rarely if ever can be considered complete. With the rapid development of modern technology; device types, screen sizes, and browsers are constantly changing. As a result, QA typically aims to ensure that the site will function as expected on all major and popular mobile devices, desktop screen sizes, and browsers. Normally these are defined at the start of the project, and in cases of site redesigns, can be informed by the analytics of current sites. Essentially the QA developer aims to ensure that the website will function optimally, and as expected across the widest range of devices possible.
Obviously, the length of time required for this process varies depending on the complexity and size of the project. For example, generally, a Drupal site will require much less time than a B2B eCommerce site will. And when it comes to eCommerce of any size, there are many more areas to focus on and ensure function. Generally, any custom-built features will be reviewed in their own right, ensuring that they function as intended, and then that they function within the wider site as a whole.
So what does the QA process look like?
The QA process can look different for each project, and most companies will have their own process and checklist for this. Below are eight general stages of a process. Some can be combined together, and others can be omitted depending on the site.
Front-end Review: This stage of the process generally involves ensuring that the staging site matches the designs provided. This includes both the UI elements as well as UX aspects.
Navigation Review: As stated earlier every company has its own process for QA, and for some this review will occur early on, sometimes before any front-end work has been implemented. This review ensures that the site flows as expected and while this covers aspects of UX, it is generally considered a separate step.
Content Review: This step involves the review of content such as imagery to ensure they are of good quality, are cropped correctly, don’t cause loading issues, etc. The overall content is also checked to ensure it doesn’t negatively impact page loading speeds, as fast loading speeds are important for retaining users.
Link Validation: In this step, QA developers manually check every hyperlink on a site to ensure that they link with the correct page or document.
Forms and Input Validation: All input fields, and form submissions are tested in this step to ensure that they function as required. Functionality such as mandatory and required fields will be tested as well as any other behaviours to ensure they follow the correct rules.
Interoperability Review: We touched on this step earlier, and it essentially involves the testing of the site’s appearance and functionality across a range of device types, screen sizes, and browsers. Just to note that this step can go by different names depending on the company and team, so perhaps you have heard it referenced by a different term.
Custom Functionality Review: Again, this was mentioned earlier but it is the process in which any custom built/coded features are tested to ensure functionality and to review if the manner in which users will interact with it are acceptable.
Payment Gateway Review: While only relevant to eCommerce sites, this is a crucial step and review for these sites. In this step the QA developer will test the payment process from start to finish, experiencing it as a user would, and validating that it functions on all agreed devices and browsers, as well as ensuring any integrations and payment methods function as required.
The backbone of development
So as you can see QA is an integral part of any development process. Without it errors, bugs, and UI/UX issues may go unnoticed. The QA developers are the bridge between developers and designers, ensuring that the user is kept in the conversation while balancing requirements, and any technical limitations. At Monsoon Consulting, we recognise the importance of our QA developers and involve them throughout the process, ensuring that any development work that goes live is of top quality and functions as expected.
If you want to learn more about how to improve your site we have some other articles published on improving your mobile commerce experience, as well as how to ensure your user experience is ready for upcoming sales periods. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team to learn how we can help you to transform your platform. Get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on +353 (0)1 4750066