Even if you can’t hold the product in your hand, quality control is still an integral part of any work process. This is especially true when developing a website, mobile app, or even a brand identity. With all of the recent news surrounding the troubled Affordable Care Act website, I wanted to sit down with Accella’s own QA expert, Jeff Sharp, to discuss the importance of testing websites, and what specifically companies should do before launching their own website.
Sam: Thanks for sitting down with me today, Jeff. Let’s start with the basics – what can go wrong with a website if isn’t quality-checked?
Jeff: Any number of things. The site could crash, as we’re seeing with Healthcare.gov. It could have broken links, leaving users confused, frustrated, and unlikely to return. Certain browsers may load the page in a way that makes the page look ugly or unappealing. In the very worst cases, the site may have gaping security flaws that put both the business and their customers at risk.
S: With those consequences in mind, what does basic website QA entail?
J: It depends on the complexity of the site. When someone is testing a very basic informational site, all they typically have to do is make sure all the links are in good, working order. With larger projects, the person in charge of QA will have to verify that search functions work and that the site can accept data provided by users. The very largest sites, something on the scale of Amazon or eBay, will undergo hundreds of hours of QA, testing every conceivable page and function.
S: When should a site undergo testing?
J: Again, it depends on the size and anticipated number of users. However, smart development teams will test and QA over the course of the website’s build-up, identifying and fixing potential problems before deadlines start looming.
S: Is QA something that should be handled by a web development team, or should you try it on your own?
J: As a business owner, you may have insights into your users that the development team may not know, and so you may want to test it on your own for usability and clarity. However, it is important to let your development team know about the intended functions and purpose of the website so that they can ensure stability and reliability when it comes time to make the site go live.
S: Would you say that QA is an essential part of the web design process?
J: Absolutely. By investing time and resources before the site launches, you’ll find that your users will be happy and you’ll start to see a healthier ROI. There’s that old phrase “measure twice, cut once” – it definitely applies to a website, except that it might go “QA repeatedly, launch once”. QA makes sure that your users can access the site problem-free, which helps build your business while avoiding a publicity backlash or frustrated customers.