If you've ever made anything, you've noticed that it's much easier to fix something before it's done, as opposed to making a mistake and correcting it later. Whether we're talking about a high school science project or your company's website, you always want to catch the problems before releasing them to consumers, not afterward.
Here's how to ensure that your website is of the highest quality for your customers and employees to navigate easily.
Your Guide to Website Quality Assurance
When you ensure that your website is ready to go before releasing it to the world wide web, you'll save yourself time, money and spare your reputation. After all, there are few things less professional than announcing your new website, only to find that the influx of customers all have poor experiences using it.
What is Quality Assurance?
Essentially, website quality assurance is testing your website to look for any mistakes. QA typically starts when development does and should be an ongoing process while the developers work to detect any potential issues before they arise so that they can be corrected as part of the development process.
Quality assurance is an ongoing process that looks at multiple aspects of your website. You'll need to hire professional QA testers who know how to look for bugs throughout your website. They'll input specific data points and see how your website performs under various conditions.
Outside of testing design requirements, QA testing also involves comparing the website's design to the owner's specifications, the overall look of the site, and how your website copes with changes and integrations.
Why is QA Important?
If your website doesn't function well, consumers won't give your business a second chance. There are so many businesses on the internet that customers have very little incentive to stick with a company whose website doesn't allow them to find what they need and purchase it easily.
First impressions are crucial, and your website is your brand's representative. Your reputation will suffer if your website doesn't at least meet the bare minimums of functionality. Explaining to hundreds of customers why your website needs to be down for maintenance is frustrating for everyone and much more expensive than fixing the problems before you go live.
However, if you want to attract new customers and appeal to existing ones, you'll want a website that does more than just function.
How to Test for QA
Creating a process flow for QA testing is nothing to scoff at. It's a complicated process that will check every aspect of your website to weed out as many issues as possible before presenting them to users. By creating the process flow, you'll make a blueprint for the testing process so that no feature or aspect of the website is overlooked.
Each part of the process flow will explain how much time will be spent on each phase, as well as the budget needed and the priority. When outlining your process flow, there are a few key aspects that you'll want to consider to narrow the scope of your testing and prioritize the issues that are most pressing. These include:
- Knowing your audience and who the website is for to determine which platforms they'll use most often.
- Type of application you're developing.
- Specifying each test to gather precise data instead of haphazardly testing random outcomes.
- Website risk level, especially if users will be entering secure information, must ensure their privacy is protected.
- Estimating your audience size to see how much traffic your website needs to be able to handle.
- Which testing tools you have available, and whether you need to test your website across multiple platforms.
QA Best Practices
There are plenty of aspects to consider when optimizing your QA process flow to evaluate your entire website effectively. One of those best practices is to create a persona of your end-users to better predict the situations under which they might be using your website so that you can test for any issues in those scenarios.
Another best practice is to use a staging site, a type of website that simulates a real website without being accessible to the public. Only employees with the right passcodes or credentials can see your website while it is on a staging site, but it should have all of the same capabilities as a normal website.
Start scheduling QA testing as soon as features and pages are developed. Remember, the earlier on in the development process that your QA team can catch problems, the less expensive they'll be to fix in the long term. Plus, once you have cleared a certain feature, don't consider it completely done. As new development occurs, your QA team will need to retest past features to make sure they weren't affected by new changes.
Quality Assurance Tools
Automation can be your QA team's best friend when it comes to checking so many aspects of your website throughout the development life cycle. Be careful not to rely too much on automation since your human QA team will be able to come up with ideas or simulate scenarios that automated tools cannot, but they can lessen the load significantly.
With a knowledge graph, you now have a single source of truth about your company online. It's easy to make changes to a knowledge graph and let it automatically update the same information across your website, so you know everything will stay up to date and give your QA team one less thing to focus on.
Below, we list the main parts of quality assurance testing to ensure you scour your entire website for possible issues down the road.
This area of QA testing looks at how well your website works across different platforms and devices. This includes seeing how mobile users view your website, checking to ensure buttons and navigation works in different formats, and whether users can properly see images on differently sized screens.
This type of testing looks at whether your website can handle specific scenarios, like times with high traffic, without a significant drop in performance. It is essential that your web pages load in a timely manner, or customers can become frustrated and bounce from your website because they chose to access it during a high-traffic time of day.
However, performance testing isn't solely focused on website traffic. It also measures how your website works when users are running multiple features at once, how reliable the features are individually, and how it continues to plug along when users continue to use its features over a long period.
This is the most basic test but also the most subjective part of QA. Does your website include content relevant to your users and presented in an appealing way?
This aspect is especially important if your website is eCommerce or otherwise asks users to enter personal information. Ensuring that forms contain captchas, that private information is protected through secure authorizations, and the security of passwords are just a few parts of security testing.
Many businesses don't pay enough attention to security testing and lose huge amounts of money from ransomware hacks or lawsuits after user information is leaked.
One significant part of security testing is to simulate a hack and to see how your company as a whole would respond to the loss of important data. This testing exercise can also be useful for other employees as you explore how best to respond to such a catastrophe and outline which steps should be taken to restore website security after a hack.
As the name implies, this is where your QA team looks to see if the website does what you need it to do. Depending on what kind of website you've created, there will likely be different features that all need to work properly to let your customers purchase products or services. It's important to have a map of your website and outlines of how all of the features should work to compare how they perform.
QA testing is one of the key aspects to keeping costs down and making a good impression on customers. When you confidently go live with your company's website, it is through knowing that your QA team was thorough and caught the majority of the issues before your users ever got ahold of the site, and you won't be embarrassed about what they find.
Contact us to learn more about optimizing your website.