The Vital Role Played by QA Testing in Website Projects
In simple terms, QA testing means taking a range of steps to ensure that the finished product or service delivers the maximum quality for any end user. When it’s done properly, QA testing will spot problematic issues with the project at the earliest possible stage, before the problems in question have time to become embedded and impact on the end result in a manner which will cost both time and money.
Through QA testing, you will be able to identify errors, redundant features, and inconsistencies, ensuring that the project which is ultimately delivered will perform in a real-world environment and continue to deliver over the longer term. To be truly effective, QA testing should involve all team members involved in developing the project and should take place through an on-going process which tracks development though all stages. This article will explain the fundamentals of QA and the different methodologies which can be used for successful QA testing:
- Automated testing – this involves using automated processes to test the functional aspects of the website project. The tests in question could be based on the specifications which the project has been designed to deliver or real-world use case scenarios.
- Non-Functional Testing – this involves working through four stages of testing which examine more fundamental aspects of the project than the individual features likely to be targeted by functional testing. Non-functional testing will look at the following:
- Security – the vulnerability of the website will be analysed, with the aim of discovering bugs, loopholes and gaps in the security which might be targeted by hackers and cyber-criminals. This stage is vital as the security of any shared personal data is one of the most important aspects of a website for most end users.
- Compatibility – this stage of QA testing involves making sure that any application is completely compatible with the software and hardware it will run on. This could involve testing operating systems, plug-ins, hardware, and web browsers, to give just a few examples.
- Usability – usability testing focuses on the experience of the project for the end user. Its intention is to make sure that the project – such as a website – is intuitive to use and has an interface which makes navigation of the site simple and easy to use for all target audiences.
- Performance – performance testing involves putting the project through its paces in a variety of different scenarios chosen to mimic likely real-world occurrences. These might include working with a low battery or coping with extremely high demand. In general terms, performance testing assesses any set of circumstances which might possibly compromise the operation of the site.
- Functional Testing – as opposed to the non-functional testing detailed above, functional testing involves working through the project to ensure that every aspect actually functions as it should, and does the job it was designed, built and put in place to do.
- Unit Testing – unit testing marks the stage at which the approach of QA testing moves from looking at the project in the round and in a strategic manner, and focuses instead on breaking it down into small units of code which can be tested on their own, without reference to the role which the unit will play on the website as a whole.
- Integration Testing – having tested the individual operating units of the project, the next stage involves testing how multiple units’ function when working in unison. Processes such as unit and integration testing can often be slow, drawn out and labour intensive, and for this reason these aspects of QA testing are often the first to be automated.
- System Testing – system testing illustrates the way in which QA testing as a whole is an incremental process, moving through the website project in question in a controlled and rational manner. Having carried out unit testing and integration testing, system testing is the point at which you can run the entire system – all of the units working singly and in conjunction to deliver – in order to identify any problems.
- Acceptance Testing – acceptance testing is the point at which the project, rather than being tested in isolation on the grounds of functionality, is tested against what was promised in the specification. In simple terms, does it do what it says on the tin, and will it deliver for real world end-users over a prolonged period and under different circumstances.
If you work with QA testers, then you will find yourself having to deal with a large number of words and phrases which you may never have come across before. The following is a brief glossary of the kind of words and phrases often used by people involved in QA testing:
- Authentication – this is the process of making sure that the credentials of a user have been checked by an authentication server and found to match, which means that authorisation is given.
- Authorisation – the process of allowing an individual to access a system or a particular part of a system or perform a specific action.
- Component – an item of software with its own specification.
- Defect – also known as an error, this refers to an aspect of the site not meeting specifications, whether due to faulty components or human error when engineering the software.
- Release Candidate – a version of the project prior to release which offers the functionality intended and can then be tested on that basis.
- Use Case – an approach to testing the web site from the perspective of an end user.
- Bug – a fault in the code of the website which causes it to perform in a manner which was not intended.
- Code Complete – the point at which the coding of the website has been completed and QA testing can now be carried out.
- Code Inspection – a formal and detailed review of the code which picks up any defects before they multiply and impact on the performance of the site.
- Dynamic Analysis – a form of testing which is based on executing the data being tested in real time, which makes it possible to identify faults while the programme is running rather than in isolation.
- Validation – testing and evaluating software during development, or when development is complete in order to ensure that it meets the requirements set out by the business in question.
- Test Case – a framework created in order to ensure that a particular aspect of the website will behave as it is intended to. The framework might include details such as requirements, test steps, verification steps, outputs, and the test environment.
- Test Environment – the test environment covers the hardware and software within which the tests will take place.
- Test Plan – a document which sets out the testing which will be carried out, including the scope of that testing, the approach taken and a specific schedule of activities.
- Test Script – this refers to the instructions given to an automated tool being used to carry out automated tests.
Different Types of Testing
- Acceptance Testing – testing which determines whether an end user will accept a product.
- Accessibility Testing – testing which establishes whether a product is suitable for people such as those with restricted vision. Accessibility testing looks to assess if the website or product is accessible to everyone it can be including those with disabilities or impairments.
- Alpha Testing – testing which is carried out on an early prototype of the finished product.
- Benchmark Testing – testing which takes place using the yardstick of a specific set of programs and/or data.
- Beta Testing – testing which uses a pre-release of a product which has been made available to a carefully selected set of customers.
- Black-Box Testing – this is a method which tests the functionality of part of the product in terms of the specifications of that product.
- Breadth Testing – this QA testing method tests the functionality of the whole product without testing individual features.
- Concurrency Testing – this form of testing analyses the impact of multiple users accessing the same parts of the system simultaneously.
- Data Driven Testing – this testing uses a specific set of data values contained in a format such as a file or spread sheet and is often used during automated testing.
- Endurance Testing – this is a form of testing which subjects the system to prolonged execution in order to check for issues such as memory leaks.
- End to End Testing – a form of testing which examines the whole of a product in a real-world environment.
The Importance of QA Testing
QA testing plays a vital role in the production of a website, offering a range of advantages and playing a key role in releasing a finished item which will deliver for all end users. Some developers neglect QA testing because of a belief that it represents an unnecessary expense, but this is a mistake.
The fact of the matter is that effective QA testing is an investment which saves time and money. It does this, above all else, by identifying potential problems as early in the development cycle as possible. This means that those problems can be fixed quickly and simply, rather than becoming embedded within the structure of a product and having to be uncovered and dealt with by working back through multiple steps in the development.
At the same time, QA testing can identify minor changes to aspects of development such as software tweaks which could, if left in place, deliver major changes to the final outcome. Until every component has been QA tested there is no way of knowing, with any certainty, whether it will operate as it is meant to in a real-world environment.
Finally, QA testing will stop so-called ‘feature creep’. This describes the phenomenon of features being introduced without testing, which then go on to impact on the wider scope of the project, taking it beyond what was originally intended. QA testing at every stage of development will ensure that any changes work within the parameters which the project is intended to deliver.