If you think that Quality Assurance on a new website is something that happens on the day before launch by an intern who has some free time, then let me offer you a paradigm shift: QA is one of the most important elements in a website build.
And as a client, you need to be deeply involved.
Don’t believe me? Let’s start with why QA is so vitally important.
QA the Wrong Way
Many digital agencies consider quality assurance, or QA, as a task assigned at the end of a website build. They may have one person clicking around the newly-built website, making sure links work, and responsiveness is the same in different popular browsers.
If you’re lucky, this person is a developer who has spent hours working on the site over the past few months, and is just sanity-checking to make sure all of her buttons go to the right place. If you’re unlucky, it’s that guy in the office who has some free time to blindly click around your new online presence.
As the website launches, they assure you that it “has been fully QA’d” and there’s nothing to worry about. What could go wrong?
A Better Way
Let’s look at a few ways we can try to fix this broken system.
It’s vital that you have continual rounds of QA throughout the building process. The earlier you catch a flaw, a hiccup, or a blatant oversight, the easier it is to fix. As the saying goes, “There’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over.”
Many Hands Make Light Work
One lone person facing down an unbelievable task is a great plot for a movie, but it’s an awful plan for QAing your website. You won’t have just one user on your site, you’ll have thousands, which means you’ll have thousands of behavior patterns. The more testers you have, the more of those behaviors and quirks you’ll work into your process.
And just in case you thought we meant that your agency should have a team to handle all of this…
Get Your Hands Dirty
Yes, you, the client. You need to be in the QA process. No, we don’t mean that it’s your job to click every button and slide every slider. But you do know your business better than anyone in your agency.
What’s your company phone number? Headquarters address? What year were you founded? Annual revenue? Spelling of your CEO’s last name?
These are the type of things that get missed, lost, forgotten and eventually end up with someone shouting over the phone, “How could you mess this up?!” And the person most qualified to catch these content errors…is you.
So take a few minutes and read your site, really read it. Make sure it’s perfect. Because the last thing you want on launch day is a flood of new prospects coming to your site and getting the phone number for a Domino’s in Minnetonka.
Don’t Forget to Test the…
The list of things your site should be QA’d for is lengthy, and will vary a bit from site to site. But there are a few things that are pretty universal, and will save a lot of headache if you ensure they are checked.
- Mobile functionality. Most web shops will test your site on common browsers. But those browsers vary slightly from one operating system to another, so be sure to extend those tests to include tablets and smartphones as well. Use Google Analytics to determine what devices, operating systems, screen resolutions and browsers are typically used when visiting your site. This will help make sure you don’t miss a crucial slice of your customer base.
- Redirects. Using your current sitemap, be sure that every page is accounted for in a list of 301 redirects. That way when your new site launches, all pages will seamlessly open for your users, even if they have an old, outdated page bookmarked. Without this step, pages may appear broken, and you may lose a potential client – not to mention the SEO ramifications.
- Forms. If you have forms on your site, there are a number of things that could go wrong. Field validation, Thank You pages, email confirmation and notification, and analytics event tracking all need to be flawless on launch day.
- Media. Video is the biggest culprit, but any type of specialized media needs to be a focal point for the testing team. Slide decks, calculators, and interactive infographics need to be thoroughly scrutinized to be sure they render at different resolutions, on different devices, and with common browser plugins running.
No one is more invested in your company’s website than you are. We understand that. That’s why we are such strong supporters of a good QA process throughout the life of your website build.
No matter who builds your next website, don’t leave the QA process to the very end. You may find it’s a lot harder to back up and fix any issues you find. If you continually QA, test and check along the way, your final QA should be a breeze, and you’ll have a great-looking, well-running, fully functional website that you can be proud of, and garner the results you desire!