Your website is often the first point of contact with your prospective customers. Getting the experience right is critical in making a good first impression. In fact, recent research by Google has revealed that 53% of mobile visitors will leave your website if it doesn't fully load within three seconds, and that's just one of the many things that can go wrong.
Unhappy visitors rarely voice their complaints, so understanding your website's sticky points can be trickier than it seems at first glance. That's where QA testing comes in.
In the simplest terms, website quality assurance testing is the process of ensuring that all elements of a website or web application are functioning properly and efficiently. Practically, the term refers to a checklist of steps and tests that testers should take before launching a website.
However, QA testing does not start when you're about to launch your website. To build any high-quality product, QA begins in the planning phase, and website teams should incorporate it into every stage of the website development and design process. Thorough planning cuts down on the number of bugs.
And quality control doesn't stop after launching. Web technology changes rapidly, and most websites rely on various tools, plugins, and frameworks working together. Just because something is working well today, doesn’t mean it will continue working 6 months from now, so that’s why it's best practice to regularly review your website to make sure nothing has broken.
Both QA testing and user testing aim to optimize the user experience and ensure proper website functionality. However, there are some important differences between them.
While QA testing deals with whether the site performs as intended, user testing focuses on improving how users interact with the website. Because of this nuance, it’s possible for a website to pass QA testing but fail user testing. In that case, the designers and developers will have to go back to the drawing board and recalibrate their vision for the website to suit users' needs or desires.
Another important difference between the two is that a tester or team of testers usually does QA testing. On the other hand, user testing invites a team of real people who represent the target audience to examine how they perceive the website and explore possible friction points. This process is UI or UX testing.
Ultimately, the two tests complement each other, and the feedback from both processes is vital to having a functional website that gives visitors the best possible experience. That’s why it's not uncommon to find articles listing user testing as part of QA testing.
QA testing is a comprehensive term that covers the following:
During functionality testing, the QA team tests all the website features and ensures they are performing optimally. The test parameters for functionality testing include user interface, APIs, database testing, security testing, client and server testing, and basic website functionalities.
Performance testing subjects your website to different pressure levels to determine how well the site can handle surges in traffic. The QA tester may also stress the website to the breaking point to determine the peak load and see how it will behave under the excess workload. Aside from load testing, performance testing also checks how your website performs across different devices and browsers, as well as how quickly your site loads.
Automated testing involves using testing tools to handle repetitive tasks during QA testing. It can free up some quality time for your testing team and allow them to focus on other problems. It's vital to note that no tool can achieve 100% automated testing. You'll still need professional testers if you want a thorough job. However, automated testing can competently take care of tasks such as integration testing and performance testing.
As explained earlier, usability testing explores how potential users will interact with the website. It's typically carried out by a small group similar to the target audience, and they test elements such as navigation, content, contact forms, etc.
Security testing activities are essential for ecommerce websites and other businesses that store sensitive personal information. Common security testing activities include verifying that:
Virtually all elements of the website need to be tested for QA purposes. For inspiration, here's a QA checklist that features essential elements that need to be tested and the questions to ask during testing.
Website content should be informative, it should address the relevant topics, and the information should be presented logically to make skimming easy. These elements will be reviewed during content testing, alongside checking for basic grammar and spelling mistakes. Content testing also verifies that the website's images are high quality and optimized for the web.
In general, content testers ask themselves:
Each business has its own target audience. So, it's only appropriate that the website content should suit your prospective customers. For example, using complex grammar or developing lengthy content for a website that targets young children or their parents might not be the best fit.
The general tone and language of your content should also resonate with your ideal client profile. If you're running a Christian-centered business, for example, content creators should avoid certain topics, pictures, and words that might offend.
Proofreading helps you detect spelling and grammar mistakes as well as deeper issues with the content structure. While the tester may not be the one to proofread or edit, they'll sweep the website content to verify that these mistakes are not present and provide the appropriate recommendations if they are.
Design testing investigates whether the site truly matches the design concepts envisioned by the designers and developers. The test will confirm that all the elements have been developed to the right specifications and are working as expected. Design testing also extends to navigation and accessibility so that visitors can enjoy a smooth browsing experience.
Some deeper questions on design testing include:
Design elements such as font size, spacing, color scheme, font style, etc., should correctly load on every page, browser, and device.
Testers should conduct design testing across all major browsers to ensure an optimal experience for all users. All website elements should work seamlessly across:
This test should also check if phone numbers and email addresses in forms are correctly linked, and whether popups appear at the right time and are not intrusive.
Outbound and inbound links typically have a different color to draw the user's attention. Your QA testers should check to make sure your links are distinguishable from regular copy and that they are not broken.
Functionality testing is often regarded as the backbone of QA testing. It verifies that all elements, features, and functionalities on the website work according to the desired specifications.
A functionality tester will ask themselves:
Most websites use forms to collect valuable data and accept feedback from users. The testers should complete all inputs and forms on the website to make sure that they work correctly. They should also fill out website forms and ensure all the required and optional fields have been set appropriately.
All inbound and outbound hyperlinks on your website should function correctly and direct visitors to the correct pages. Frequently encountering broken links or needing to be redirected at every turn harms not only UX but also SEO rankings. Testing helps detect and delete orphan links.
Often, there may be problems with custom website functionalities, and it's the QA team's responsibility to detect these issues. Making a booking, filling a contact form, and creating a user account—these are all essential sales-driving activities that absolutely must work correctly.
Ecommerce websites, in particular, have to pay more attention to QA testing and QC because of their multiple custom functionalities and the large number of pages. The QA team should test the individual product pages, the functionality of discounts and coupons, filtering options and shopping carts, currency converters and shipping cost calculators, among other features.
As explained earlier, performance testing subjects your website to various conditions and estimates how much pressure it can withstand. Beyond that, performance testing also checks essential website elements such as SEO and cross-compatibility.
Your website should boast a reasonable loading speed, even with slow connections. You should be aware that loading speed can vary across devices, browsers, and operating systems.
There are critical search engine optimization elements that content creators must build into the website during the design or development stage. Such elements include page layout, mobile-friendliness, readability, Alt tags, file name, size, etc. The QA team should verify that the website has been optimized to rank on search engines by checking these elements. Content for the website also needs to take into account SEO keyword research for the best possible outcome.
The ultimate aim of website QA testing is to ensure that your website's interface functions as intended. Ultimately, the goal is to have the best user experience, so your business can attract and keep more customers.
If your website is not performing as it should, you'll be losing many potential customers without even knowing. For example, QA testing will reveal if your website loads properly on desktops but is slow on mobile devices. Without the test, your mobile visitors will leave out of frustration, and you won't even know why! Another catastrophic example is a broken shopping cart process; imagine how many sales you would lose if your customers cannot complete checkout.
Envision a website that takes ages to load or is too complex to navigate. Your visitors will associate the negative user experience with your brand, which could negatively impact your reputation and credibility. When you carry out QA testing, you'll ensure that your website can perform as it should, leading to a positive user experience.
QA testing can reveal problems that may have devastating consequences on your brand. Think about what could happen if there's a security breach that allows unauthorized access to stored credit card details or other sensitive information. QA testing ensures you do not have to deal with such situations.
Your website cannot generate the highest revenue if it does not provide the best possible user experience. Website quality assurance testing is your way of doing all that's humanly possible to ensure your visitors encounter a frictionless experience. However, it's vital to note that QA is a continuous process. Implementing regular testing can help your business stay on top of its game at all times.