Explained in 60 Seconds: QA Testing

February 25, 2016

Few people would be surprised to know that before a new website or feature is launched, it passes through a quality assurance (QA) process to make sure it works exactly how it is supposed to and is free from errors. However, many might be shocked to find out what is involved in a standard QA process. It’s actually much more extensive than just looking for links that don’t work or spelling errors in the website content.

QA testing spans a number of different areas, from functionality to security, and it takes a lot of attention to detail and even more patience to do it right. But, in the end, it’s all worth it to have a website with all its t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Then next time you’re on a flawless website, here are all the types of testing that went into getting it that way.

Functionality Testing

Functionality testing is an important step in making sure the basics of the website are working properly. A QA tester will:

  • Check all links - Are they working? Do they lead to the right place?
  • Test all website forms - Are they capturing user information? Is the user flow working?
  • Test cookies - Are cookies encrypted? Do session cookies capture login sessions and user stats when the session ends?
  • Validate the HTML/CSS - Are there any HTML syntax errors? Is the site crawlable to search engines?
  • Database testing - Does data integrity stay intact when forms are modified? Are database queries executing correctly?

Usability Testing

A great user experience is what keeps website visitors engaged and coming back for more. Usability testing involves putting yourself in the user’s shoes to ensure the site meets their needs. This includes:

  • Test for navigation - Is the website easy to use? Are any necessary instructions provided, clear, and correct? Is the main menu provided on each page and is it consistent?
  • Content checking - Is content logical, meaningful, and easy to understand? Are there spelling errors? Are images placed in the right places and at the right sizes?
  • Other user information for user help - Is the sitemap available and correct? Does the search feature return results properly? Are help files accessible?
  • Compliance testing - Does the visual design allow for easy readability, particularly with regard to font size, color, and color contrast? Do all back-end fields have titles and images have alt tags so that a user relying on a screen reader can navigate successfully?

Interface Testing

QA testing isn’t limited just to what’s going on with the front-end of the website. It also checks out the back-end, making sure interactions between servers are working as expected and that errors are executed properly.

Compatibility Testing

Nothing ruins a user experience more than a website not working properly on certain browsers or devices. That’s where compatibility testing comes in. It involves:

  • Browser compatability - Does your website perform as expected across browsers including Chrome, Explorer, Safari, and Firefox?
  • OS compatibility - Does your website function properly across all operating systems including Unix, Mac, and Linux?
  • Mobile browsing - Does your website and all its features work on mobile devices of various screen sizes?
  • Printing options - If you’re giving page-printing options, are your fonts, page alignment, and page graphics printing properly?

Performance Testing

Data shows that the slower your website loads and the longer you keep your users waiting to access your content, the higher your bounce rates will go. It’s probably even more distressing to know that when visitors leave your site, they are heading straight over to your competitor’s site. Performance testing is focused on making sure that doesn’t happen. It means:

  • Web load testing - Can your website sustain in peak load times? Can it handle many simultaneous user requests, large input data from users, and heavy load on specific pages?
  • Stress testing - How does your website react to stress? How does it recover from crashes?

Security Testing

Keeping your website secure from those with not-so-good intentions is more important than ever, which makes security testing your website an absolute must-do. You’ll want to make sure you’re unable to access internal website pages when not logged in, that web directories or files are not directly accessible unless given a download option, that the SSL is used for security measures, and all transactions, error messages, and security breach attempts are logged on your server.

It's worth remembering that much like your website, quality assurance testing is never really done. It's an ongoing process to make sure your site is always working at its best, keeping your users happy and excited to come back.

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