The Breakdown: Quality Assurance

Oct18
By Maddie Lucas

How We Use Quality Assurance at SiteCrafting

Quality assurance. It can mean very different things to different companies. To us, quality assurance (QA) is simply making sure that there are no complications for our clients and their users. We want to make sure that each website we create is delivering the best possible product. This can be done by looking for technical issues and ways to improve the overall project. Matt Schnepf, our QA analyst, explains what he does on a daily basis to keep the websites that we create top-notch.

What Goes Into QA?

It is usually a 3 step process to create a user-friendly and quality site.

  1. Matt creates pages for new websites and fills them with “test content” so that the designs our clients love are being reflected when they see their finished site. 
  2. After creating pages, he starts exploring and testing the website by doing actions that might break it. This could be as simple as using an image that is too large or small, or as complex as trying to break a form with javascript entered in the fields. He evaluates any issues that might come up and works with our developers to find solutions by suggesting things that they can do to make it an easier experience for the user.
  3. Matt writes “bug reports” that describe what the issue is, and how to recreate it. Then, it goes off to the developers who re-create and solve it. After the problem is solved, Matt retests it to verify that there are no complications from the fix and that everything is working smoothly.

The Process

QA is a small part of almost every step in our process, making it a very big part of what we do. For smaller projects, we found that it is best to use the waterfall method. In this method, after the site is developed, Matt will do the testing. For our bigger projects, we use the agile method. In this method, QA is tested during the development process. No matter how a website is tested for quality assurance, Matt works hand-in-hand with almost every department including project management, UX, design, front-end and back-end development, and content strategy, making sure that there are no issues along the way.

Common Misconceptions

WEARING TWO HATS

People may think that quality assurance is just about finding bugs or using software. “When I worked in QA for a video game developer, I was always asked if my job was being payed to play a game,” explains Matt. But it’s much more than that. Not only does Matt have to think like a developer, he also has to view software from the perspective of users.

When doing this, he can’t only think about how most people may use the site. He also views the site with a wide range of perspectives and intentions. For example, some users may have nefarious purposes when visiting a site, while other users may have simple expectations like clicking on a link once rather than twice to open it. By keeping these perspectives in mind, Matt can find solutions that work for both the client and their users.

SOLVING PROBLEMS

Another misconception is that QA work is simple, when in reality it can be like solving a complicated puzzle. Some issues have simple solutions with understandable causes and effects. Often, there are much more complicated bugs that don’t have an obvious cause. Matt works backwards using logic and out-of-the-box thinking to successfully reproduce the issue and solve it. Solving these unique problems can be quite challenging, but this is also what Matt finds the most satisfying.

“The most challenging part is also the part I love the most -- the puzzle-like nature of complicated issues,” explains Matt.

RESOURCES

Want to learn more about quality assurance? Check out these favorite resources from Matt: 


If you missed any of our previous Breakdown series blog posts, don't forget to check them out before the final blog of the Breakdown series on November 1st, The Breakdown: Data Science.

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