You know that few things are worse for holding up an urgent project or an all-important client deadline than discovering that the software you’re using has a pesky bug. That’s why software testing and quality assurance (QA), the processes businesses use to test and screen new releases for issues before they send them out to the public are as indispensable to web development as writing good code is.
Software testing plays a powerful part in eliminating human error and flagging potential problems before they arise. “If you’re a developer, you’ll know the importance of having someone double-check your code,” says Deborah Sherwood, software tester and usability experience analyst at Squiz Labs. “Software testing is about maintaining quality control and ensuring that obvious issues are fixed before the version is released into the wild.”
Putting yourself in the end user’s shoes
During the development process, it’s easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of a piece of software. Developers often do this without thinking about how a user will interact with an interface or whether the code they’re writing results in a seamless user experience that leads to repeat visits and new leads.
“Although developers test, they can have a limited range of knowledge of what they should be testing,” Deborah explains. “They might not have an overall picture of the system or know what the end users are expecting. It’s always critical to have a second set of eyes look over new features.”
Ironing out glitches before they occur
Detecting blatant errors is relatively straightforward, says Deborah. But detecting the complicated glitches and preventing them from becoming a client pain point is an ongoing focus – one that Squiz’s suite of custom tools enables.
“Since I started conducting process testing with Viper, our WYSIWYG editor, I’ve started picking up more of the subtle and educated errors – the mistakes that I don’t anticipate or identify because the bugs are so intricate,” Deborah says. “We iron them out before the client uses the software. We always test as much as possible up-front to avoid a bug potentially slowing the client down.”
Tapping into the power of automation
Although following a checklist and considering the end user play a key role in software testing best practices, running automated tests can ensure heightened speed and accuracy – especially for drawn-out or boring tasks.
“At Squiz, we test everything before release and run thousands of automated tests,” Deborah says. “Automation can help detect issues like not being able to add italic text. For me, these things can be repetitive, but through automation, we can discover them simply and accurately. It also frees me up to think outside the box.”
Investing the effort in conducting software testing and maintaining QA – by empathising with the end user, ironing out glitches, and using automated tests to avoid errors – can have a profound impact on clients’ workflow and their ability to realise their goals. Say goodbye to the bugs and glitches that slow you down by finding out how we achieve this at Squiz.