Top 5 Quality Assurance Metrics For Your Digital Product
In a market where a single error in functionality or design can cause permanent damage to your brand, there are few decisions riskier than launching your app, website, or other digital product before performing rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) testing. Even the most skilled programmers can make mistakes when coding—issues that, gone unnoticed, can frustrate users, increase bounce rates and cart abandonment, create security vulnerabilities, and more.
There is no question of the importance of QA testing, yet digital businesses often rush or overlook it due to short timelines, limited budgets, and other common factors. The right QA frameworks, however, empower your team to stop these potential problems in their tracks. Encompassing the five main types of software testing we’ll discuss below, QA enables your company to launch and iterate on your platform with full confidence in its UX.
What is QA, and why is it Important?
Quality Assurance refers to the practice of testing for errors, bugs, and other flaws to find any that are missed during the design and development process. Using Virtual Machines (VMs) and other tools, QA testers simulate a wide range of interactions with your app, site, or platform. This allows you to validate whether all elements function as planned and deliver the high-quality UX/UI necessary to engage your customers.
Because it’s so much more efficient to fix mistakes before they impact the user experience, QA is a powerful tool for improving not only product quality but also ROI. Companies that conduct QA testing throughout the product development lifecycle, including after launch, are far less likely than the competition to let valuable time, expertise, and resources go to waste.
How the 5 Main Types of QA Protect Your Product & Brand
QA falls into five primary categories: functionality testing, performance testing, automated testing, usability testing, and security testing. Each of these methodologies is designed to test a different aspect of your digital platform. And the more of them you integrate into your product testing strategy, the more confident you can be in the quality of the end-user experience.
Users come to your app, site, or platform with a specific set of expectations in mind, and you only have one chance to deliver on them. Functionality testing, also called functional software testing, is the most familiar and commonly used form of QA. This practice is used to validate that all components of the product are operating according to their requirements (requirement testing). In functionality testing, requirement gathering and analysis are used as benchmarks in determining whether the software is working as needed.
Comprehensive functionality testing may seem like an inconvenience today, but it saves immeasurable time and cost over time by proactively catching easily avoidable errors. All it takes to conduct effective functionality testing is for your team to use the platform in the same ways a user would. Low-expense and high-impact, functionality testing embodies QA’s many benefits.
At some point, your platform will have to take on workloads that push its capabilities to the limit. Without knowing how the system you are building will handle this, you run the risk of bottlenecks that can slow down response times or even cause a site crash. And as today’s digital companies well know, even a one-time experience with an overwhelmed site can cause user abandonment and leave a negative impression of your brand.
Performance testing helps development teams ensure that all the necessary components are in place to handle extreme volumes of users. This methodology examines how well your platform’s functionality holds up in high-volume contingencies, allowing you to count on optimal processing speeds, data transfer rates, and overall reliability no matter how many people are using it at once.
Two of the most popular forms of performance testing are stress and load testing, which demonstrate how the software responds to larger-than-expected workloads. Another commonly used methodology, endurance testing, complements stress and load testing by gauging this ability over time.
Unlike traditional software testing, which requires developers to click through every piece of software manually, automated testing can perform QA without human interaction. The ability to supplement other types of QA with automated testing enables teams to catch more errors and catch them faster than manual testing alone.
Automating testing also streamlines the project as a whole, reducing the need for back-and-forth communication between testers, development teams, and other stakeholders. Additionally, companies developing multilingual solutions can use automated QA to alleviate the need to find manual testers for each language.
QA is directly tied to the efficacy of the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) you provide to your audience. As we’ve discussed, customers won't want to engage with your product unless you make it effortless for them to accomplish what they came to do. As its name suggests, usability testing evaluates how fast, easy, and intuitive it is to navigate and use the site. Especially when bolstered by market research, journey mapping, and other UX research tools, this type of QA help ensure a consistent and engaging experience no matter when, how, or where your product is being used.
To perform usability testing, the development team observes how potential and/or existing customers interact with your app, site, or platform. Issues that appear to cause confusion or frustration (as well as those that customers enjoy) are noted by the team and addressed in the next round of iterations. Providing a tangible demonstration of the platform’s UX/UI, usability testing reveals the insights needed to take your solution to the next level.
Usability testing can also be conducted through expert review, where the company enlists an external team to test and provide recommendations for the product. This type of audit is beneficial for bringing a fresh, unbiased perspective to the end-user experience. An outside team can often identify strengths, weaknesses, and ideas for improvement that internal stakeholders haven’t.
Security testing is, for good reason, at the top of business leaders’ minds when it comes to protecting sensitive data and maintaining user trust. With so much consumer information being stored online, and cyber-attacks becoming ever-more sophisticated, failing to test for vulnerabilities in your software is not an option.
Security testing is the area of QA focused on proactively finding and solving issues that may compromise your and your customers’ data privacy. If any gaps within your system could let in a hacker or other malicious actors, security testing will help you find out as early as possible. Implemented consistently, this provides a long-term shield against SQL injections, spoofing, fishing, and other threats.
Because this area of QA is so sensitive and requires specialized expertise, many digital companies use external testing services (often offshore teams) to address these types of coding issues. The most successful security testing is multidisciplinary, leveraging developers, designers, security experts, testers, and other stakeholders to create and maintain a fully secure product.
Though few apps, websites, and digital services are coded flawlessly from the start, all of them can be enhanced through QA. Properly implemented, QA provides assurance that your product is fully functional—and even more, that it sparks long-term engagement with your brand. From evaluating how your platform handles peak workload to eliminating security vulnerabilities, QA is simply a prerequisite for digital companies focused on exceptional quality.
Leveraging a combination of QA testing methods throughout the product development lifecycle is more than worth its up-front investment, as it is one of the most reliable ways to minimize risk, strengthen your brand reputation, and unlock new opportunities for improvement.
To find out more about your options for QA testing and other product improvement methods, get in touch with the Morphosis team.