Every day bring news of software bugs of every species causing real-world problems. Last year, Tesla recalled 135,000 vehicles over computer memory failure. In New Jersey, a bug in a vaccine booking portal created thousands of double bookings. A team of 200 staff made more than 10,400 phone calls to remedy the issue. Days ago, a bug in Facebook’s feed surfaced “misleading, harmful, or problematic content,” further tarnishing a brand that seemed already 100% tarnished.
All of these software bugs caused a significant monetary and reputational damage to the companies that failed to find and fix them before they affected users. That’s why the quality assurance process is a vital part of the software development cycle.
So many different digital platforms and formats are available to users that it is important for organizations to ensure the qualitative experience of their products across all the most relevant ones. To ignore the variety is to risk (and sometimes to guarantee) a bad user experience. That means companies need to embrace a daunting range of browsers, devices, screen sizes, and resolutions. Fortunately, testing ensures that user experience and satisfaction are qualitative. But testing is complicated.
The role of a quality engineer is to focus on delivering the best possible experience to users. The quality engineer must be experienced in performing different types of software testing to ensure customers’ expectations are met, as well as understand the business requirements. They must also be proficient in preparing the test plan effectively so that testing of the application can be done according to a project timeline.
Even with responsive design, one application can never be fully designed from the start to work on the full array of platforms—be it different web browsers or mobile devices. Nor can it be expected that a piece of code will function the same on different platforms. By testing a good range of different platforms will give organizations the confidence and control over the experience. Data analysis should be performed before selecting the browsers and devices for the test coverage and application support. That means making sure you’re not investing in browsers and devices that your audience isn’t using.
Testing isn’t just a matter of using the experience and stamping it as approved. There are many different testing methods that should be employed together to ensure that all elements of the experience have been examined and deemed user-worthy.
Functional: The application is validated for the functional requirements that are defined by the business users/product owner. The test cases are written based on these requirements and executed when the feature is ready for testing. This ensures the application meets the specified requirement guidelines and works as expected.
Automated: Automated testing is performed to speed up the regression test coverage during each sprint deploy. With the help of automated test scripts, QA can make sure the critical functionalities of the application are all working as expected in each deploy. The test coverage of the application can also be increased as the same test scripts can be executed for different types of users, environments, browsers, etc.
User Interface (UI): The first impression is the last one. UI testing is performed to validate the look and feel of the application. The testing is performed against the design wireframes, which show the expected layout of each page. With UI testing, QA ensures that the same application is displayed as expected on different browsers and screen resolutions. QA also verifies the application in different mobile device modes such as portrait and landscape.
API: APIs are the backbone of any application, and it is important that they should be up and running as expected. QA tests them to ensure that they are integrated with the front end of the application as expected and returning the responses that they should. Since there is no interface for the APIs, it becomes critical to test them using appropriate testing tools and assert them against different use cases.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT): UAT is key to the success of any application or product. How end users will be using the application should be kept in mind while designing, developing, and testing the application. A product could meet its functional requirements, but if it is hard to use, it will be rejected. UAT is crucial to ensure the application meets user expectations so that more users will adopt it.
Exploratory: Nothing is perfect in this world, and that includes testing. There might be a bug in the application that is missed even after all the business requirements are functionally tested, for instance. That’s when exploratory testing comes into the picture. It focuses on discovery and relies on the guidance of the individual tester to uncover defects that are not easily covered in the scope of other tests.
The development and testing processes should be happening throughout the software development cycle. The more we stay focused on the quality of the applications we build, the more users will accept them. To be successful, it is crucial to embrace testing and quality assurance processes, embedding them within the actual software development process at an early stage.