A vitally important, absolutely unignorable, non-negotiable pain in the ass

January 14th, 2020

The internet is scary. It destroys things. Your ad, your website, your fun clickable client experience. Given enough time (and it’s not that much time) the internet will find holes in it, or make exciting new holes itself. Diverse devices, a broad list of browsers, clients that are two generations behind on their e-frastructure: these things will conspire to make your cool digital thing fail. QA is how you stop that from happening.

Or at least how you fix it once it happens.

Why is QA hard?

QA is neither fun nor sexy, and thus it is doomed to be the first thing eaten when the time and budget crunch comes. The best digital teams know, though, that an ounce of prevention is worth many, many gallons of coffee. Getting the basics down isn’t some huge mystery, but here are a few things you might be prone to overlook (we know because we’ve done it at some point).

Know expectations upfront: You can’t be sure it’s working if you’re not sure how it’s supposed to work. A well-executed business requirements document (BRD), which will act as your single source of truth, scope and performance expectations will calibrate your QA goals.

Have a bench: One good thing about QA: any user can help. Training other members of your staff to be able to help the digital team in testing makes sure work doesn’t bottleneck as deadlines approach. That said, be sure to have well-trained design and development resources who specialize in QA on hand to guide the effort.

It’s not just about functioning: It’s about functioning at speed. Don’t forget to test for page performance and loading times. No one will see your cool thing if it won’t load on their four-year-old laptop.

Mind the details: Little things add up quick. A missed meta tag here, refresh-requirement there, and the occasional typo all seem small. But soon they’ll be manifesting as fewer visits, lower SEO rankings, and a snowball effect that leads to greatly reduced traffic.

Be inclusive: QA is ultimately about improving the user experience of human beings, so spare a thought for accessibility. Tagging for screen readers, ensuring legibility of text, ensuring media players have subtitle options, and complying with ADA (Americans with Disability Act) guidelines are all examples of how QA can aid inclusivity.

So, are we good at this now?

No. Much like the process of finding and fixing quality hazards, building the right QA pipeline is messy and requires learning by experience. But going in with the right mindset (and enough resources) can make the experience a whole lot less painful. The only thing to absolutely remember: don’t neglect it. Ignoring QA is the only way to ensure you never get the chance to do it again.