Picture it: you’ve just got what looks to be the final draft of your company’s new website and it looks good, your boss has seen it and he won’t shut up about it. In his eyes you’ve knocked it out of the park by finding a great creative agency and shaved a couple bucks off the price by going with a smaller team with a quick turnaround. Sounds great right? But, if an agency is saving costs by not performing proper Quality Assurance (QA) they just created a major liability for your company’s brand and even your own career.
Where did you go wrong? You budgeted and skimped out on hiring someone with a great quality assurance team and now the new website that you were praised for launching is now buggy, slow, and even worse – the mobile version that the majority of your target audience uses seems like a clunky, lifeless afterthought.
Quality Assurance, or QA is the crucial final step in web design. Often QA is overlooked not only by clients, but also by smaller creative agencies because it doesn’t seem to relate to what you see on the screen. The crucial mistake in that logic is that QA isn’t about how the project looks, but rather how it feels and functions. A robust QA team is absolutely essential to meticulously testing and validating every aspect of a website, guaranteeing its functionality, usability, and compatibility across the entire spectrum of operating systems and platforms you anticipate your audience to be using.
In this article we talk with Stauffer’s QA Manager, Allan Soriano, about what the robust QA team at Stauffer does and how they are essential to upholding the integrity of your company’s online identity and user experience.
Joining us for this interview is Fitz Nowlan, the Co-Founder of our QA software of choice, Reflect, to explain his revolutionary app and how it will save you and your brand from future headaches down the line. Let’s jump in:
So Allan, what exactly does a QA team protect you from?
Allan Soriano: “Essentially what QA teams do is deep dive into every aspect of a website to squash bugs and rigorously test and retest the site to operate silky-smooth on all devices. Alongside using the enterprise features and support of the automated testing platform, Reflect, we can automate numerous man hours of QA, pouring over every pixel and line of code to identify the small issues that can turn into big issues. We also test all the interactive elements to make sure that they work as intended and optimize the user experience to be consistent and pristine across all platforms and operating systems.”
Fitz, you’re the brains behind Reflect, tell me more about how your app maximizes the time and efficiency of QA for both projects at any size?
Fitz Nowlan: “Reflect is the fastest way to create an automated test because it requires no coding and captures any action you take in a browser. This means you can quickly create tests of the critical flows in your application in minutes. For larger projects, Reflect’s comprehensive feature set allows automating complex flows including file uploads, drag-and-drops and hovers. Virtually any action you can take in a browser can be automated in Reflect. This means no application is too big or too complex to test with Reflect.”
Fitz, is Reflect only useful for QA teams? Can Reflect be effective for other departments?
FN: “Reflect is useful for anyone who performs manual QA—not just those whose title is Manual QA Tester. For larger organizations with dedicated QA teams, Reflect is a power tool. But we’ve observed SMBs who pull people from all different departments—marketing, design and customer success—to help out with manual testing. Reflect allows these non-technical users to create and manage automated tests as well. This broad utility and accessibility makes Reflect unique.”
Sounds useful for projects of all sizes, can it replace an experienced QA team however?
FN: “Our most successful customers still have a person or team who owns their Reflect tests and suites. Often this is an experienced QA team, like at Stauffer. The key to successfully implementing QA at any company size is designing tests to be small and modular, keeping your test data organized and avoiding non-determinism where possible. Experienced QA teams know these pillars of test automation well, and that’s why they’re so valuable to an organization and such a secret weapon for an agency like Stauffer.”
Allan, why can’t smaller teams provide the level of QA support that creative agencies like Stauffer can provide?
AS: “While some smaller teams can provide some QA support, boutique agencies simply do not have the human resources to spend the time to find and fix everything. They are also much less likely to invest in the enterprise-level automated testing tools that we use at Stauffer. These gaps in capability provide larger agencies like mine clear differentiation with clients through enhanced customer satisfaction, minimize revenue loss, and proactive safeguarding of brand reputation at a level other agencies simply don’t or cannot provide.”
You mentioned that your QA team can minimize revenue loss, that sounds like a really big deal, can you say more on that?
AS: “While working on a project with a large automotive industry client, I was staring down the barrel of a tight turnaround while working on luxury car that experiences would have taken me at least 3 days to complete. Leveraging my team to deploy Reflect however, a similar test for one of our clients took between 3-6 hours to create a baseline test, then another half day adding up the more complex scenarios – once I set up these tests Reflect just did the rest. Needless to say, those savings were passed down to the client and earned my team a lot of future business. Without having the requisite staff and time-saving apps like Reflect, I may have been left with a site that was riddled with bugs and errors. If we had launched that site without a rigorous QA, not only would I have looked bad, but I could have done some serious harm to the online reputation of my client.”
What do you mean by “reactive QA” and “proactive QA”?
AS: ”At Stauffer, we always try our best to implement best practices whenever possible, since this will establish not only consistency but efficiency. This in turn leads to the proactive approach which ensures that all releases are stable with the least amount of bugs. We try to mitigate risk by testing all the critical paths to make sure everything works as designed and continually try to identify other potential issues that can be addressed in a follow-up release.”
How bad is it to QA on-the-fly like that?
AS: ”Testing on-the-fly for the most part is not encouraged, since the goal of QA is to actually deliver a “quality” product. However, a reactive approach, while not ideal, is definitely much better than no QA at all. It could lead to customer dissatisfaction, missed opportunities, and increased costs down the line. This is why it’s also important to manage client’s expectations and explain to them why QA is an essential step in delivering a product.”
Can you provide a practical example of how reactive QA will cost a company money?
AS: “Sure, imagine you launch your website without running a thorough QA phase. Traffic and payment transactions could be running smoothly for the small number of customers your site is built for, but then one day your newest product goes viral. Now your web traffic has tripled; this surge in customers is slowing down your site and ultimately crashes your server. Not only are customers unable to buy your product, but the reputation of your brand will be forever tarnished by the web platform falling flat on its face in the midst of the biggest audience it’s ever had. Spending the time and resources up front on a great QA team could have prevented this calamity.”
AS: “I cannot overstate how important the work my team does for our clients and I believe we are some of the best in the industry. Allocating time and resources on QA up front not only prevents problems in the long run, it bolsters the reputation and revenue streams of our clients. By encouraging prioritization in proactive QA, my team can confidently launch a captivating and engaging website with enhanced sales funnels that will make you a competitive force in your industry. Lacking a quality assurance team can jeopardize the audiences’ view of your brand.”
FN: “I agree with Allan’s perspective on the importance of QA. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Thanks for having me join the conversation!”