An overlooked yet vital part to building and maintaining successful websites is quality assurance or QA. Quality Assurance refers to systematically testing a new website or any modifications to current websites to ensure that the flow and functionality are working properly. The primary goal of testing is to make sure that the end user has a positive experience on our clients’ websites. The most sure-fire way to lose a customer is to have a website that is frustrating to navigate or that doesn’t work correctly. In Peacock Production Studios effort to provide top-notch quality assurance, we spent approximately 17% of our time testing websites last year.
Peacock Production Studios has a specific workflow in place to make sure that quality assurance is a priority. Utilizing communication portals and repositories, we are able to effectively communicate each step of the way. The basic flow is for the developers to make their changes and push to a testing environment, called stage, which mirrors the production site. Once the changes are in stage, our QA department will perform thorough testing and provide instant feedback to the developers, if necessary. After testing in stage is complete and everything is working properly, these changes will be pushed to the production environment where the public is able to see and use the updated software. Once “live” in production, thorough testing needs to be done immediately to ensure the file deployment took hold and that there are no issues in the live version.
Definition of Quality Assurance
Now that you understand Peacock Production Studios quality assurance process flow, it’s time to look into exactly what goes into QA. Updates to websites can be as simple as changing a phone number or as complex as modifications to a complicated shipping calculator. While we can’t possibly cover everything that needs to be tested in this article, there are a few major items we will discuss. First, a testing checklist needs to be defined based on the technology being built. Our example will be the launching of a new ecommerce website. Our process involves having our QA department work closely with the development team at the very beginning of a new build. We want to catch any issues early during development; things that could potentially be carried throughout the site if not caught early and lead to longer delays down the road. Depending on the site, the order of testing may be different, but there are several common things to check. We will take a look at those now.
Functionality testing for an ecommerce site involves checking all of the links on each page of the website to ensure they direct to the proper page, testing all submission forms on the site and to make sure that customers are able to add products to the cart and checkout. The most important component on an ecommerce website is the shopping cart. During this process, correct calculations of taxes, duties and surcharges needs to be tested. It is also very important to ensure that all product options, like color and quantity, are following the order throughout the checkout process. Finally, thorough testing needs to be done to ensure that any shipping carrier APIs are connected, working and bringing back correct results.
Usability testing involves making sure that the navigation is easy and consistent for the user. Content needs to be proofread and the search feature returns relevant results. Usability testing is in essence making sure you provide a good experience for people coming to the website. In other words, is it user-friendly? In reference to an ecommerce site, it is vital that visitors to your “store” are comfortable moving about and can obtain pertinent information easily. The more comfortable they are, the more likely that they will make purchases on your site.
Cross Platform Testing
As more and more people are making purchases using their smart phones, mobile testing is becoming a vital component of quality testing. As part of our QA process, we ensure that the functionality works and the layout looks good on mobile devices like the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. Another important product to perform mobile testing on is tablets, like the iPad. With all of the various tablets on the market today, it is nearly impossible to test all of them, but it is necessary to check Apple and Android devices, at the minimum.
The final step in performing quality assurance is to make sure that the website is secure. This includes testing all contact forms and make sure that all validation and captcha is working properly. SQL injection is a popular security risk and building strong forms is crucial for any ecommerce site. Also important is to make sure that all security certificates are up to date and that the user is directed to a secure URL (https://) when providing personal information like address and payment method, particulary credit card information. Many end users, rightfully so, will not purchase products if the site doesn’t appear secure. Although Peacock Production Studios always encrypts sensitive data, it is essential to security test for ecommerce compliance such as PCI or SET.
As you can see, quality assurance is an integral component of any successful website launch or upgrade release. Without thorough testing, end users can become frustrated, be given incorrect information or worse, not be able to purchase products at all. Peacock Production Studios values quality assurance and devotes the time and resources necessary to ensure that our client’s websites are performing at peak levels. While QA is not the most glamorous task that we perform, we understand its importance in building functional, easy to use websites. In order to have a successful ecommerce website, customers must feel comfortable navigating the site and trust that their information will remain secure. We hope this article has stressed the importance of thorough quality assurance in relation to building your customer base. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.