In this article, I’ll explain why testing can’t be underestimated during the development of a software product. First, I’ll describe which tasks our testers usually face. Then, I’ll consider how the work of our QA team affects the quality of the final product. So, what is software testing?
How Software Testing Works in a Nutshell
Software testing is a process of analyzing software and related documentation to identify possible defects and improve product quality. In this case, product quality is the degree to which a component, system, or process meets the defined requirements and/or expectations and needs of end-users or customers. The described method may seem like a pretty simple concept at first sight. A tester looks at the documentation, checks how the system works, finds bugs, makes a report, re-checks everything again — and the job is done! Well, in fact, it’s not so simple.
For example, at the stage of creating project documentation, guessing end-users ‘ expectations may be a harsh task. Furthermore, it’s not always possible to predict how the program should respond without having it before your eyes. When it’s time for the actual project testing, it may turn out that the app is absolutely not convenient. Short deadlines inevitably lead to development errors. Multiple workarounds intended to make new features work with old versions of the program incompletely described variable functionality of the app making its behavior unpredictable under different conditions, features of displaying applications and controlling their correct work in different environments — all these issues don’t make the job of a software tester easier.
Taking all these aspects into consideration, it’s no surprise that, for software development companies, testing as such is not the primary priority. What’s more important is to ensure that the testing team is involved in the development process during all stages, and it keeps track of the business goals of the project. That’s why testers are called “quality assurance engineers.” After all, their primary responsibility is to focus on every aspect of the development process. While developers mainly focus on the source code itself, testers analyze the whole picture to define what contributes to creating a high-quality final product. Therefore, if the project does not pass the testing stage, its quality leaves much to be desired.
During web development, logical flaws or inconveniences in use occur more often than we would like. As you can guess, such a state of affairs can lead to some undesirable consequences. Described problems can frighten away users or cause them to distrust the project in which business analysts put their heart and soul, which represents the embodiment of the client’s hopes and desires, and which was created line-by-line by a team of developers. These are the main reasons why software testing is so necessary during the whole development process.
According to my experience, there are three main reasons why you should apply software testing:
- To guarantee that clients will receive what they expect. Testing allows for detecting all defects and errors that were made at the development stage. Their timely detection and quick elimination ensure application reliability and end-user satisfaction;
- Cost minimization. Software testing is a crucial task to conduct before the product launch because a product that contains errors can become more expensive and even dangerous for the business. There were dozens of cases when undetected software bugs caused huge cash losses. The introduction of testing in the early stages of product development helps to reduce customer costs significantly and also gives more accurate and reliable results, which helps businesses achieve their goals;
- Improving the development process. During testing, there is a wide range of scenarios we use for reproducing the errors. Working with the development team to resolve these errors significantly speeds up development processes.
It’s important to start testing right at the stage of preparing documentation. In this case, testers, based on their own experience, point out the parts of the application where users can spend more time thinking about why they did something wrong, what actions led to these results, and how to reverse all the wrong steps. Unfortunately, in the real world, this practice is quite rare. More often, the tester magically appears after the lion’s share of the work is done, usually at the finished product stage or (which is a way better option) when the product is half-finished.
A QA engineer has to plan the testing process for each new application. It’s essential to check how each function works and interacts with other functions integrated into the app. During software testing, many different actions are performed. Here are some examples:
- Product requirements overview;
- Verification of all functions according to the information specified in the requirements document;
- Writing test cases and executing them to cover the application with tests;
- Smoke testing;
- Regression testing to ensure that a newly implemented feature does not break any existing features;
- Application performance testing for better usability with low response time;
- Cross-browser testing.
Application checks in accordance with the documentation and smoke testing are pretty common and essential parts of the software development process nowadays. But what about app performance, appearance, and behavior in different environments? Why are these things so tricky? Let’s find out!
The Importance of Testing in Different Versions of Various Browsers and on Different Types of Devices
It’s a pretty common situation when an application that has not passed the cross-browser testing is displayed differently in different environments. The reason for this mess lies in ancient prehistoric times when different browser developers sought to overtake competitors used their own progressive rendering technologies, which led to the situation when different browsers read and display content in different ways. Also, it’s crucial to keep in mind the importance of checks on such devices like tablets and smartphones, since some of them may contain restrictions that will inevitably lead to reduced application performance or its incorrect display. Additionally, the difference between devices and operating systems may bring a wide range of application display issues and even break app functionality. Such a situation can be harmful to both users and businesses.
Cross-browser testing helps to achieve an excellent user experience. All end-users will get access to the same functionality provided by the software system regardless of the used browser or operating system. That’s how you can build trust with your client.
The higher your standards, the more valuable the quality of your software product should be. A web app that works in Firefox but doesn’t work in Safari, most likely, won’t be an acceptable option for your client who may decide to prefer a web app of your competitor. To earn your clients’ trust and loyalty, you must provide them with a web application that can be used with ease on any browser that they may decide to use.
Cross-browser testing implies testing a web application in various browsers, operating systems, screen resolutions, and on different devices to find out whether it meets your expectations and standards. For example, if the application was designed for the desktop PC, then there’s the risk that it will be difficult to read its content on a mobile device’s screen. If you take into account the variability of resolutions, you will realize that the whole testing process requires much more time and effort than just running a couple of checks.
You can be sure that an application that has successfully passed cross-browser testing and is suitable for a wide range of devices will be displayed on all resolutions and in all browsers correctly, which will lead to a longer life cycle. Also, such an app will quickly reach the target audience.
As the amount of content on the Internet is growing every day, the only way to compete with competitors and deliver your message to end-users is to create a high-quality product. In my opinion, the best approach is to predict which set of browsers your target audience will use and focus on them while you conduct testing. There’s an option that may look pretty good at first glance: you can follow the path of least resistance and focus on the Chrome browser only. After all, why spending efforts on every browser in the world, if everything seems to work just fine in Chrome. Right? Wrong! Chrome currently holds about 67 percent of the browser market. It’s a pretty big piece of cake, but leaving your application to the mercy of fate for the remaining 33 percent of users is not a very good business approach.
It is also recommended to collect statistics from your users to determine which devices they most often use and focus on the most common options.
How Much Time You Should Spend On Testing the Application
According to the preceding facts, it becomes clear that to ensure the quality of the product, it’s necessary to:
- test the product from the early stages of development;
- perform tests on different types of devices (smartphones, PCs, etc.), on devices with various resolutions and in different browsers since each of them has unique features. As a result, the application will work differently in different circumstances (it includes the display of the application interface, layout, and functionality itself).
Software testing is not less important than the development process. If we exclude some testing activities from the software development life cycle, the whole process will be useless, since the client’s requirements won’t be met eventually. In software development, money and time are interconnected, especially if the product release dates are not met. The client may not require reporting from the testing team, but he or she keeps in touch with other specialists: marketers (advertising company), financiers (budget allocation). The last link in the product release is testing, and this is where attempts to save money occur more often.
It’s hard to determine the exact amount of time required for testing if you don’t know for sure on which type of project you’ll have to work. Statistics say that software testing can take approximately 20-50% of project development time. There are multiple methodologies for assessing the exact amount of time needed for testing. Many of them are based on previous experience, project complexity, and skills of quality assurance specialists.
You should always be aware of the risks that may arise along the way. The best approach is to have 20-25% of the time for emergency cases. Moreover, one of the principles of testing says that exhaustive testing is not possible. If this time for emergency cases will be spent on testing, it will have an only positive effect on the final product.