Quality assurance (QA) is a pivotal phase in any project. If an inadequate job is performed, there may be negative results that affect the visitor/user experience. In order to prevent such an outcome to a Web project, there needs to be a well-defined scope as well as a team who will check every nook and cranny to ensure no stone was left unturned. Nowadays, this is easier said than done due to all the platforms/devices where a Web project could exist:
- Social Channels - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google +
- Phone Devices - iPhone (3, 4, 4S, 5), Samsung Galaxy (3, 4, 4S), Blackberry, Windows
- Tablet Devices - iPads 1-4, iPad Mini, Nexus (4, 7, 10), Kindle (Fire), Blackberry, Windows
- Operating Systems - Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8), Apple OSX (with a plethora of large feline animals)
- Browsers – Internet Explorer (8, 9, 10 [and the deprecated 6-7]), Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera
…and the list goes on.
So one may ask, how on earth can a Web project launch with a successful QA phase without having to check every single possible device/platform, under each and every digital stone? The answer is simple. Check ev-er-y-thing. This is a labor of love which requires planning, patience, focus, and a heavy dose of time.
PLAN: Plan for QA at the very beginning. What browsers and devices are deemed essential for the project’s success? Who is assisting in QA? How long is QA intended to last? Identify who is assisting in this phase and remember the more people involved in the QA the better. Get fresh eyes from all different demographics. This doesn’t mean all feedback must be considered as necessary change requests, but be sure to have people involved that are familiar and unfamiliar with the project.
The most time consuming component of the planning process is identifying how to best receive information and where to store it. There is a plethora of bug tracking systems available, or a well-organized Google doc can work. Just be sure there is one primary person involved to vet and approve all the bugs have been addressed.
PATIENCE: Quality takes time, care, and repetition. QA may mean having to check the same exact page more than 30 times across various browsers, devices and channels. Because of all the possible variations, sometimes it takes many questions and steps to get to the underlying root cause of an issue. Once the issue has been identified, the hard work is done, but getting there can be frustrating. Be patient.
FOCUS: Don’t lose concentration. Follow the same steps each time before moving to the next section, and document as much as possible. Being able to reproduce an issue is crucial. If there aren’t steps to reproduce that issue, then a good amount of time will be lost trying to find it, which believe it or not, can be very difficult. Be courteous and give as much information as possible.
TIME: Put the time in to make the project a success. Never underestimate the time it takes to adequately QA a project. Especially if the project scope is a multi-page, multi-user flow Web experience, across all browsers with compatibility up to three previous versions, AND is intended to be a unique mobile experience. For a project like this (which is becoming more standard) expect to invest a lot of time into quality assurance.
QA is a critical phase in every project, don’t skimp on it! It can lead to the success or failure of a project. And we all know time is money.