Quality Assurance: More Than Meets the Eye

Growing up, I was a huge fan of The Transformers. Depending on your age, you may remember Transformers as a line of popular Hasbro toys or from their television series in the mid-80’s. Most recently, they were featured film stars in expensive, action-packed movies by Michael Bay. To refresh your memory, Transformers are robots — some good and some bad — engaged in a war that is made more interesting by the fact that they can transform themselves into a vehicles or other objects. I always liked their catchphrase, “More Than Meets the Eye”, and I find that phrase is apropos to the work of Quality Assurance (QA) testing and how it is utilized in a project’s lifecycle.

Optimus Prime

Image courtesy of Joey Cortez

In today’s world, businesses (large and small) and corporations make huge investments in their websites for both desktop users and mobile devices. They have a vision of what they want their site to look like, how they want it to function, and the audience they want to attract. They entrust the companies that they partner with to create and maintain their vision for their website. To accomplish this, Project Managers work with businesses to get an understanding of that vision. User Experience (UX) Designers verify the optimizations were captured correctly. The final piece of the puzzle before the website launches or website updates launch is Quality Assurance (QA).

Sample QA Deployment Lifecycle

Sample QA Deployment Lifecycle

Many people might incorrectly assume that there isn’t — in fact — more than meets the eye in regard to QA. They may think that QA is a simple process whereby a few things are tested in the last phases of a project before it launches. With some companies, that may be true. Clients may receive quality analysis on one or two servers to see if the coding, layout, and design is working.

The QA process can always transform to best meet the specific needs of a client. QA teams should ask a lot of questions! In addition to understanding the project requirements, teams need to also understand how those requirements will be implemented, any potential bugs, bug fixes, etc. QA analysts should work closely with developers. This meeting of the departments helps to proactively answer any of the questions that the QA team has. With a clear and concise understanding of what to expect in the discovery/design/development phases of a project, analysts can then draft test plans, cognizant of requirements and expected functionality. Is the field able to be updated? What is the character count? This is all just prep work before any actual testing is ever done!

After building requirements with the client, a great QA team also uses numerous, inventive ways to take the process to the next level. Using the most up-to-date analytics and reporting tools, our team is able to procure valuable information, including pinpointing both desktop browsers and mobile devices and tablets that the client’s customers use.

Testing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It can, and should be, tailored to each project.

It’s time to test. Think Optimus Prime! Testing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It can, and should be, tailored to each project. For instance, at Exclamation Labs, our QA analysts can test in upwards of four possible, separate environments. Small projects may only need tested in one environment, while medium to large projects may require testing in multiple environments because of more complex coding or the amount of coding that is involved. In situations like this, testing in multiple environments allows our team to make sure that the project has been thoroughly tested before deploying it to a live environment. Quality Assurance remains involved post-launch for monitoring and testing of updates and fixes as needed.

What initially looks on paper to be a small part of a project’s lifecycle is actually a very involved, detail-oriented process. The most significant way that a QA team can exemplify the “More Than Meets the Eye” mantra is by asking questions and being able to transform our thinking from just checking off items on an ordinary test plan to something bigger and more useful — thinking about products, services, and applications from the end user’s perspective.

Mark Lohr
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