So, you’re ready to take the leap and build a digital product.
You’ve got a great idea, a team of software developers, and excitement for days. With a plan this solid, what could go wrong?
Flash forward: the launch date. After countless hours of development, you’re live!
Then you see it: your first negative review on the app store. They reference “useability issues and bugs” as reasoning for their glaring one-star rating.
Make no mistake, bugs are a part of software development. It comes with the territory. Hey, even big players like Apple and Google have bugs that pop up from time to time. With that being said, we want to mitigate this risk as much as possible by identifying and addressing bugs before they ever have the opportunity to surface for an end-user. This is where Quality Assurance comes in.
Keep reading to learn more about quality assurance and how it can improve your entire software development process!
What is Quality Assurance?
When the rubber meets the road, the success of your product hinges on your users. You need to both acquire and retain users, which means your product needs to provide them with ongoing value and a consistently positive user experience. This is exactly where Quality Assurance comes into play.
Quality Assurance, also known as QA, is a crucial part of developing, supporting, and maintaining any high-quality digital product. The process involves using a set of methodologies and processes to ensure the best functioning product for the end-user.
Instead of placing the burden of this ongoing intensive testing on software engineers (or worse, on yourself!), leveraging Quality Assurance Engineers is both more effective and more efficient. This is because QA Engineers have specialized skills, tools, and experience for this specific type of work.
For example, they know how to quickly test an application across various devices, browsers, and screen sizes to identify any issues that need to be addressed. Similarly, they know from experience the “edge cases” that you and even your software engineers may not have considered. In other words, they understand all the ways that unexpected user behaviors and the dynamic web and mobile ecosystems can “break” your product.
Leveraging QA allows your software engineers to focus on what they are good at, which is writing code and building the product. Meanwhile, QA can focus on the ongoing testing, documentation, and tools that are needed to create and maintain a well-functioning application. We’ll break down those different types of testing in the next section.
Types of Quality Assurance Testing
Not all quality assurance testing is structured the same or serves the same purpose. There are many different types of specific tests, but we will be grouping them into two larger groups: functional testing and behavioral testing.
Functional testing involves the testing of the functional aspects of a software application and determining if those functions meet certain predefined requirements. Functions are tested by feeding them input and examining the output, and internal program structure is rarely considered.
In simpler terms, functional testing involves thoroughly working through every piece of functionality within an application to make sure things are working as expected. However, in functional testing, the tester is not concerned with how the underlying code is functioning. Functional testing can be done manually, using automated tools, or both. This type of testing is executed before behavioral testing, as it ensures that the product is actually usable.
When you’re performing functional tests, you have to test each and every piece of functionality meticulously. You need to see whether you’re getting the desired results or not. You also need to consider unexpected user behaviors and other “edge cases” that may be unexpected but ultimately problematic for users.
Functional testing is pivotal in the development process, as it increases the chances your users will have a positive and bug-free user experience. It also allows your software developers to keep up their development velocity by not burdening them with this extensive testing process.
Non-functional testing, sometimes referred to as behavioral testing, tests the non-functional aspects of an application, such as performance, reliability, usability, security, and so on.
In contrast to functional testing, this kind of testing is not focused on whether the software works or not when someone simply clicks through it and tries to use it. Rather, it’s about how well the software runs and how well it meets user expectations, among many other things. This type of testing helps you improve the experience for the user.
For example, although your application seems to be functioning just fine, non-functional testing may reveal that at 5,000 concurrent users your app crashes. This, of course, is a major problem that needs to be addressed, but would not be uncovered with functional testing. Similarly, non-functional testing may reveal security issues that, although they do not affect the usability of the application, present major problems for your users.
The individual functions of your software may function correctly, but if the experience using your app as a whole is buggy, unreliable, or difficult in any way, users may not use your product. This type of testing is crucial in both acquiring and retaining users.
Why Do I Need a QA?
Here at Tyrannosaurus Tech, quality assurance testing is an essential part of our process and is key to producing a great digital product. While the thought of adding additional resources (and expenses) to your project may not sound appealing, including Quality Assurance engineers is incredibly beneficial in the long run.
Let’s talk about some of these benefits:
1. Save Time and Money
Adding people to your team will actually save you money? We know, it sounds crazy.
Having QA engineers that are separate from the app’s software developers makes it possible for your developers to spend more time doing what they do best, which is writing code. This means they can spend their time architecting and implementing new features instead of running exhaustive tests on your app. The addition of QA allows your developers to do higher-quality and more efficient development work.
Additionally, seasoned QA engineers have extensive experience and expertise when it comes to identifying and diagnosing bugs. These solutions reduce the amount of time it takes for a QA engineer to identify and document an issue, making the entire process faster.
In short, leveraging QA is simply a means of embracing specialized roles in the development process. To use an unrelated analogy, you could pay an auto mechanic to wash your car, but would that be the best use of their skill set or your money? Probably not.
When everyone on the team is able to focus on doing what they do best as efficiently as possible, you’ll find that the production cycle runs much smoother and faster. Who doesn’t want that?
2. Retaining Users
Unfortunately, an abundance of bugs can really dampen your users’ perception of and confidence in your product. According to one study, 62% of users uninstall an app if they experience frequent crashes, freezes, or errors.
Establishing a thorough QA process is a great way to invest in building user confidence in your product and brand as a whole. Acquiring new users isn’t easy. Once they are on board, you want to keep them. Satisfied users keep coming back and may even refer others to your product.
3. Documented Steps
As mentioned earlier, seasoned QAs have an extensive toolkit of fixes and processes. This gets built up over time, as many different technical bugs have similar root causes. Every time there is an issue within your digital product, QA takes detailed notes about the issue, the root cause, and the fix. This ever-evolving product documentation ultimately leads to a better functioning application that is easier to maintain.
In turn, this creates a personalized, in-depth guide for similar issues to be fixed in the future. This guide can be passed on throughout the lifespan of your product, given to any new QAs or production staff that you hire, and used as a reference when developing for a new project.
Assure Quality, Ensure Satisfaction
Don’t let software bugs get in the way of producing your dream digital product. Quality assurance testing is a great way to ensure that your product is in the best shape possible.
Feeling the urge to bring your ideas to life? Let us help! Schedule a free developer consultation with us today.