Software development is always a tug-of-war between features, cost and quality. Many stakeholders are focused on launching features and minimizing cost, but quality impacts everything from long-term maintainability to customer retention. Quality assurance, or QA, is the process of ensuring that software defects don't reach production users.
Let's take a look at quality assurance processes, best practices and tools that are making it easier than ever.
What Is Quality Assurance?
Quality assurance testing, also known as QA testing, is a process designed to eliminate mistakes and defects before software reaches production users. Dedicated test engineers are typically responsible for quality assurance processes, but with the rise of performance engineering, the QA testing process has become much more specialized and wider in scope.
There are two types of QA testing:
- Manual tests involve using the software and verifying that it works before deploying it to production. For example, a manual test of an e-commerce application may involve going through the checkout process to ensure that it works as-expected without any errors or confusing messages.
- Automated tests ensure that the software is functioning as-expected without the need for manual testing. For instance, Selenium lets test engineers simulate a real browser and verify that elements appear on the screen without having to manually open a web browser and read the text.
Most modern QA testing involves the use of automated testing frameworks that are integrated into a continuous integration and deployment process. Before each production deploy occurs, the software is automatically tested using simulated browsers or other tools to verify that it works. There are only a few exceptions where these automated processes may not work.
Some companies also use third-party QA testing services to verify functionality. For example, Sauce Labs is a popular cloud-based service that supports testing across a wide range of operating systems, web browsers and mobile devices. These services eliminate the need to set up and maintain extensive in-house testing services — especially for smaller projects.
Best Practices for QA Testing
There are several testing techniques that set the best quality assurance processes apart from the rest. While it's easy to get started with QA processes, they tend to break down as an application grows larger and more complex. There are certain best practices that can make it more manageable.
Download our free quality assurance process template to see how to structure your QA efforts.
Let's take a look at six best practices:
- Choose the right release criteria. It's impossible to test everything before each release, so know where the most significant changes to the code were made and prioritize testing in those areas, since they're most likely to break.
- Prioritize bug fixes in each release. There are always bugs in any software project, so it's important to prioritize them. A good way to do this is by looking at usage data, which shows bugs that impact the most users, using tools like Google Analytics.
- Use the same environment everywhere. Developers may deploy code that works great on their machine, but the same code may not function correctly on production servers. By using consistent environments, you can avoid these issues.
- Don't let tests slow you down. It's impossible to run a comprehensive test suite with every commit made by every developer, so it's a good idea to run fast tests with each commit and run exhaustive regression testing at night to catch any failures.
- Work in specialized testing teams. Security testing is very different than performance testing, so it often makes sense to separate the roles into different teams, especially for larger projects. However, all teams should still be close to production.
- Simulate testing on production. Pre-production testing should catch most obvious errors, but it's always a good idea to simulate real customer activity on a production server to verify that everything is working and data remain intact.
Must-Have QA Testing Tools
There are many different tools for QA testing, but a handful of them stand out for their value. These tools are used on a day-to-day basis by test engineers to improve test coverage, ensure test accuracy and make their lives easier.
Don't forget to download our free quality assurance process template to see how to structure your QA efforts.
Selenium is the most well-known tool for automating website QA tests. By simulating browsers, the framework can automate most QA testing with simple scripting in many different languages. You can even integrate WonderProxy to test the application across many different locations and ensure that localization and internationalization is working.
WonderProxy is an excellent tool for testing localization and internationalization. For example, e-commerce shops may want to verify that the right currencies, payment and shipping information shows up in a given country or region. Other websites may only want to show promotions and advertisements to certain users to maximize conversion rates.
The Bottom Line
Quality assurance is an integral part of software development. Over the past several years, it has grown from a manual process designed to catch glaring errors to an automated process that ensures both functionality and performance meet stakeholder and user expectations. The tools and best practices above can help ease the process and ensure consistency.
Sign up for WonderProxy today to start testing your localization and internationalization to maximize conversions and avoid potentially costly mistakes.