Website QA testing is no longer an optional task delegated to the end of the project life-cycle. The amount of time and effort spent on site validation impacts the user experience, which ultimately affects the company’s bottom line. That is why testing early and often is so important. The most effective QA strategy incorporates validation points at regular intervals throughout the project. Additionally, said strategy requires validation at all layers of the site to make the best user experience possible. Let’s explore more about what makes for effective QA test cases and how to develop a strategy for your project.
What is Website QA Testing?
Website QA testing is a necessity if a company is to remain competitive in a crowded industry. In effect, website testing is the process of validating a website’s functionality, performance and user experience. The goal is to identify and fix bugs before they are released to the customer. Manual QA analysts have historically performed website validation. However, the recent shift to Agile has brought QA from a siloed effort to one that involves the developers, business analysts, QA and just about every member of the project team.
The old saying “first impressions are everything” stands true when it comes to a website. Visitors base their first impression of the site on how well the site looks and how intuitive it is for them to accomplish their goal. In today’s competitive landscape, companies have but a mere few seconds to grab the visitor’s attention and give them a reason to stay. If a customer does move beyond the first page, their experience on the remainder of the site must be exceptional. They won’t tolerate the little “quirks,” bugs or slow page loads that prevent them from getting what they need. Anything that slows them down or prevents them from getting to their goal is ultimately a very bad thing. Thus, the most effective QA test strategy is one that can root out and resolve issues before the visitor even hits the landing page.
At the highest level of website QA testing, functional tests verify that the site works as expected. The focus with this form of validation is to determine if the visitor can perform all expected tasks without errors. As such, this level of validation focuses heavily on the user experience. If a customer can’t find what they need quickly, they aren’t likely to stick around for very long.
The next important factor to consider is performance. The site must accommodate the expected number of visitors without sacrificing page response times. Performance assessments help ensure that the site operates smoothly regardless of the number of simultaneous users.
The Value of Website Testing
Many companies don’t realize how website QA testing can affect their bottom line, but one bad review from a poor user experience can wreak havoc on a company’s reputation. The best way to avoid this is to ensure the site performs as expected and delivers what it promises. QA testing can help root out these problems before the customer ever sees them.
Fixing a bug after deployment can be costly and leaves risk of the issue potentially costing the company millions. Imagine what would happen if a seemingly small bug ended up exposing customer data. The financial repercussions could be devastating as the company battles lawsuits and regulatory fines for such a mistake.
Post-deployment bugs also take developers away from their other duties. The more time they spend on bug fixes, the less time they have available to devote to developing new features. Depending on the quantity and severity of the issues, developers could get so bogged down in code fixes that other items on the project plan take a back seat. The same can be said for test technicians. When QA team members are forced to retest the same issues, they have less time available for new features or validating other items in the test suite. All the while, the user experience suffers. Not only that, any competitive edge the company has gained starts to suffer as the entire team works to fix existing code rather than keeping up with customer demand.
Types of Website QA Testing
When developing a website QA testing strategy, it is important to consider all aspects of the site. From the front-end to the back-end, each layer is a piece of the puzzle that works together to make for a positive user experience. Testing at each layer of the application helps spot weaknesses that could negatively affect other areas of the site.
Functional tests verify that the functions of the site work as expected. With this form of validation, the goal is to simulate various scenarios by inputting data and verifying the results provide the expected outcome. Effective QA tests also include some form of user experience testing. It is often helpful to have a QA team member who is skilled in UX to provide input on the user experience.
Any change has the potential to affect every area of the site. Even the smallest most innocuous change could bring down an entire website. Thus, regression testing helps ensure that the site still functions after every update and code fixes haven’t introduced new problems into the system.
Website QA testing must involve accessibility testing to make sure that those with disabilities can access the site. Types of items that must be addressed with this level of testing includes validating that screen readers can process the site, users can navigate the site with just a keyboard, and that all pictures and videos have proper descriptions.
An effective QA test strategy acknowledges that websites do not exist in a vacuum. There are often components outside of the application that provides additional services or features. A common type of integration point is an API call to a third-party service. Testing these components helps to ensure that any service provided by that integration works as expected.
Performance and Load Testing
Great content serves little purpose if the visitors can’t access the information due to slow page loads. That said, load testing examines the overall system’s abilities to service user activity for large numbers of users up to, and exceeding, usage expectations. Performance testing is aimed at optimizing the operation of the different aspects of the system so that, when they are all linked together, they offer the best user experience possible.
The purpose of security assessments is to ensure the site is protected against unauthorized access. This type of validation prevents exposure to fines and compliance risks associated with data breaches.
Compatibility testing ensures the site performs as expected on all major web browsers. Additionally, this form of testing validates the sites performance on a variety of operating systems as well as various network and hardware configurations.
Companies can no longer assume that visitors access the site via their desktop. The emergence of mobile technology means that companies must develop a website QA testing strategy that ensures customers can get the information they need on the go. That said, compatibility assessments help ensure the site is mobile friendly and that it works properly on a variety of devices.
The Makings of An Effective Website QA Test
The most effective website QA testing strategy recognizes that it is the breadth of the test suite that makes for a successful QA effort. That said, an effective test is one that is part of an overall strategy that covers the entire stack of the site from back-end to the UI. Each case plays an important role in validating the functionality and performance of the site.
Whether it is a back-end test case or a functional case, each must cover just one specific scenario. Each should have only one clearly-defined expected outcome. Next, each case should have a strong title and an in-depth description. A good title and description help prevent duplication in the suite. Each case must also have properly defined assumptions and preconditions. Lastly, the only way to get a real sense of how the site works is to use real data. “Dummy” data suffices for validating the application in lower level environments. The problem with using this data is that there is a tendency for the reviewers to “massage” it to fit the scenario. Using real data ensures reviewers are using the site in the way a real visitor would.
Automating Website QA Testing Efforts
While there is an upfront investment in writing the scripts, the payback comes in the level of efficiency achieved during testing. Automated testing helps the QA team by freeing them up to perform exploratory testing and take other validation measures to increase test coverage.
Why Website QA Needs to Be an Ongoing Effort
Customer demand must drive any successful website QA testing strategy. The website must be in a continual cycle of build, test and release if it is to remain relevant to the customer. Not only that, testing regularly and often makes for a healthier application which is ultimately easier to maintain. It is also easier to scale a fully-functioning and error-free website. When the application works as expected, there is less of a chance of one of those bugs hindering performance as the site grows.
Website QA testing is instrumental in helping companies remain relevant and valuable to customers. An error-laden website is the fastest way to send customers on the hunt for a company that can deliver a better experience.
QualityLogic’s website QA testing processes help accelerate your testing efforts so that your team can focus on developing a website that makes a great impression on the first visit and every visit thereafter. Click here to learn how to leverage our software testing services in your website QA efforts.