Quality assurance, user experience, user acceptance testing, usability – these are all related disciplines. It’s a good idea to get someone from outside your organisation to test every page, every feature, every aspect of your website from the viewpoint of a real live user.
There’s a lot to be said for using the services of a natural technophobe who has acquired a good working knowledge of what goes on under the bonnet of a website (a rare combination) – and that’s where I can help you, writes John Clifford. I’m not a techie or a geek: I’m an ordinary website user who gets confused and irritated by unclear menus and labels, unhelpful help text, things that don’t display properly, links that don’t take you where you’d expect them to, pages that take a long time to load, and annoying web forms. If your website has any quality issues that might be creating barriers for your customers, I can identify what’s wrong and figure out how to fix it for you or give clear instructions to your developers.
I spent several happy years when my job at a digital agency involved running pre-live quality checks and tests on the websites of many big corporations, or leading a team of people who did that kind of work. We systematised the whole snagging and troubleshooting process, and developed checklists to make sure everything would be captured. We applied an intelligent combination of human and machine testing.
I can give you the benefit of all that experience and let you have a prioritised fix list (if there are problems) or the certainty that your website works as it should (if there aren’t any problems).
What’s involved in website quality testing
QA testing overlaps with the editorial review process, and the quality testing checklist includes the following points:
- Check all text for spelling, punctuation, capitalisation and any apparent factual errors
- Main heading and subheadings of each page – check for logical hierarchy and correct coding
- Paragraph layout, use of white space, bulleted lists
- Numbers, dates
- Addresses, phone numbers
- Link text – to be descriptive and make sense out of context
- Links – to be working, pointing to correct target, and opening in same or new tab as required
- Main navigation menu – clearly labelled and linking as expected
- Any sub-navigation menus – clearly labelled and linking as expected
- Site map – clearly labelled and linking as expected
- XHTML site map – for search engines
- Global elements such as footers and sidebars – complete and logical
- Any legal notices or boilerplate text – high-level checks
- Search function – working and returning logical results
- Contact forms and error messages – going to the right recipient and returning helpful error messages where applicable
- Form field labels
- URLs – correctly structured and optimised for search
- Page titles – correct and optimised for search
- Description metadata
- Accessibility – text alternatives for images and other non-text content
- Accessibility – use of colour, contrast
- Accessibility – correct linearisation of content elements
- Page speed – check for any elements that damage loading times
- HTML and CSS – check for any non-minor validation errors
- Cross-browser testing – ensure that the site functions correctly in a representative range of browsers and operating systems – across desktops/laptops, tablets, smartphones and assistive devices – using actual devices and emulators