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Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3; Is Your Business Overlooking the Most Important Part of Web Development?

Dec 7th, 2011 by Max Tokman

Every business has experienced that moment of sheer panic: the website you just launched has gone down, your phone is ringing off the hook, and you’re scrambling to make everything right. Best-case scenario? You fix the bug and your site is up and running again in minutes. Worst-case scenario? You can’t fix the problem fast enough, your site stays down, you lose valuable revenue, and you hurt your bottom line. Avoid this disaster with quality assurance testing.

As an integral step in the web design process, quality assurance testing (QA testing) is often overlooked in the rush to meet a launch deadline. Unfortunately, rushing a launch is the worst thing you can do for your business. QA testing is absolutely essential to guaranteeing the success of your site. Without it, we rush an incomplete or defective product to the market, hurting your brand, reputation and future business opportunities – not to mention the countless hours, resources and manpower that will be wasted fixing a problem that could have been avoided in the first place.

Why does quality assurance and process testing matter?

 

Quality assurance is an essential and often undervalued step in web design. In fact, regardless of the industry, QA is an essential part of any development process. Just take a look at these statistics from software developer Steve McConnell (http://www.stevemcconnell.com/articles/art09.htm):

  • Thanks to quality assurance process testing, Lockheed cut its development costs by 75 percent over a five-year period. Even more impressive, the company reduced its defects by 90 percent.
  • NASA’s Software Engineering Laboratory slashed its defect rate by 75 percent over an eight-year period with QA testing.
  • QA testing helped Raytheon Electronic Systems realize a return-on-investment of almost eight to one over an eight-year period.

McConnell’s statistics clearly demonstrate that QA makes solid financial sense. Your business may not be NASA or Lockheed, but it still deserves the same level of quality control. For every dollar you invest in your business, you’ll see a significant return thanks to process testing. Most importantly, you’ll reduce the risk for future lost revenue, resources and time.

As web designers, it’s easy to create a beautiful site that works perfectly for us. And as a business, it’s easy to love a completely flawed site. QA testing helps us look beyond our own biases and understand how our end users will actually experience and interact with our website.

Testing, testing.

One of the biggest QA myths is that it’s a long, complicated and expensive process. That’s simply not true. We’ve debunked five common myths about QA testing – and explained why quality assurance is absolutely essential to your business’s bottom line.

Myth #1: QA testing is too expensive.

A website is only as strong as it weakest link. If your ecommerce tools don’t work, then no one can purchase your products. What’s more expensive: spending a day fixing an ecommerce problem (and losing out on potential revenue) or spending a few hours preventing the problem in the first place?

Myth #2: QA testing takes too long.

“But the launch deadline was yesterday! I don’t have time to test anything!” you may protest. QA testing doesn’t have to take weeks or even days. A good QA team will test a feature as it is completed, and then run a full test when the site is finished. This ensures any design problems are caught as the site is being built, making it easy to correct problems along the way. A final test run checks everything – but will only take a few hours, not several days, because most of the problems have already been corrected. Losing hours or days because your site goes down after it’s launched? Now that’s a real waste of time.

Myth #3: Everything works great for me – there’s no need to test this.

When you design a site, the user-interface and flow naturally makes sense to you. Unfortunately, what may be intuitive to you is not for the end users. Swap roles with someone on your design team and have them test out the site. Or ask a trusted third-party (this is where significant others come in handy) to spend a few minutes playing with the site. Without any previous QA testing, your user is likely to report any number of process or design flow issues. Remember, real users will click buttons in a random order contrary to your website’s logic.

Myth #4: I already checked my website in different browsers – what else does QA testing do?

Testing a site out in multiple browsers is important, especially because as web developers, we tend to use the latest and greatest – while the majority of end users may still be sloshing along in Internet Explorer. But QA testing does a lot more than just that. QA testing is a systematic process for identifying, analyzing and correcting program bugs using specific parameters and a systematic bug tracking system.

Myth #5: QA testing just isn’t relevant to my business.

Sorry, but we have to disagree. Every business – big or small – can benefit from quality assurance process testing. Transforming great website design into fully functional online destination does not happen overnight. No matter how smooth a process may seem to go, there are always hiccups along the way. QA testing ensures these hiccups are caught before they become bigger problems, affecting your brand, reputation, clients and bottom line.

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