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This article is best to read before you launch your app, so its testing wouldn’t be overlooked. With errors being identified and fixed at the early stages of development, you pave the way to building a sustainable and reliable app. Bugs and underperformance of digital products affect its reputation and scare potential customers off. After all, a good impression is necessary for brand trust.
The good news is that proper testing solves such problems and eradicates mistakes early on. What is proper testing, and which approaches does it include? We can talk about regular testing, tests with the participation of users, and systematic testing. Let’s dive into each type of testing.
Regular and Automatic Testing
Regular testing implies systematically evaluating the application’s features, performance, and usability. It helps to identify and resolve any issues before its release to end users. Developers test their applications regularly to discover bugs and check the app’s performance after each upgrade.
As for automatic testing, it’s a fast and efficient way to check the app’s functionality. Other benefits of test automation are:
- Improved accuracy reduces the chances of human errors during manual testing, resulting in more accurate test results.
- Increased test coverage: automation allows for extensive test coverage by executing many test cases, which may not be feasible manually.
- Regression testing: those tests can be easily repeated, making them ideal for regression testing. They help ensure that new changes or features added to an application do not break existing functionality.
- Cost savings: although there is an initial investment in setting up the process, it saves costs in the long run by reducing the need for manual testing and freeing up resources for other tasks.
To implement test automation, you can use various tools and frameworks, depending on your application’s programming language and technology stack. Some popular test automation frameworks include:
- Selenium: a widely used open-source framework for automating web browsers. It supports multiple programming languages such as Java, C#, Python, and more.
- Appium: an open-source tool for automating mobile applications. It supports both Android and iOS platforms.
- Robot Framework: an open-source, keyword-driven test automation framework that supports web, mobile, and desktop applications.
- TestComplete: a commercial test automation tool that supports various technologies, including web, desktop, mobile, and hybrid applications.
Test with the Participation of Users
Users’ feedback is valuable for developers because users’ perspective is unique and encompasses a wide range of user experiences. While developers possess the technical expertise to create functional apps, they may need to fully comprehend the diverse perspectives, preferences, and behaviors of end-users.
Users’ participation in testing uncovers usability flaws, identify confusing elements, or highlights features that may not align with their expectations. It brings in individuals from the target audience who can provide fresh insights and real-world experiences. By involving users in testing, developers better understand how their intended audience will perceive and use their app. User testing assists developers in critical ways:
- Validating User Interface Design: User Interface (UI) design significantly impacts user engagement and satisfaction. Users’ feedback on the aesthetics, layout, and ease of use of an app’s interface can lead to valuable improvements. User testing allows developers to validate their UI design choices and understand if the app’s visual elements align with user expectations. Developers assess whether color schemes, button placements, or menu structures resonate well with the target audience. User testing helps fine-tune the app’s UI design to create a visually appealing, user-friendly interface that enhances the overall experience.
- Early detection of bugs and glitches: Users involved in app testing are a strong defense against bugs and glitches. While developers employ rigorous testing procedures, users often encounter unforeseen issues that may not have been detected internally. App users can need help with usability hiccups, performance bottlenecks, or compatibility problems across various devices and platforms. Developers collect valuable bug reports and error logs by actively involving them in testing, delivering a more stable and reliable app.
- Continuous improvement and iteration: User testing is not a one-time event but an iterative process allowing developers to continuously improve their apps based on user feedback. By embracing user-centered design principles, developers create a feedback loop with their target audience, incorporating their suggestions and addressing their pain points. This iterative approach ensures that the app evolves alongside user expectations, resulting in a product that resonates deeply with its intended users.
Whatever testing methods you follow, your actions go best with a systematic approach. It means that the process starts with validating certain functions and components and ends with integration and performance tests.
The Role of Quality Assurance Engineer
QA (Quality Assurance) is a professional who tests a product or program at all stages of its development. As a rule, the tasks of QA specialists include the following:
- Test planning: QA professionals analyze the requirements for the application and create a test plan that describes what kinds of tests will be used, what resources are needed, what risks may arise, etc.
- Development of test cases describing the steps you take to test specific functions of applications. Test cases include the expected result and a criterion of erroneous results.
- Test execution: performing testing per the test plan and following test cases to validate each feature application for compliance.
- Analysis of test results: analysis of the test results and preparation of bug reports. At this stage, QA specialists determine which errors must be fixed and which can be ignored. They also take note of issues that may repeat in the future.
QA specialists are constantly improving the testing process, looking for new methods and tools for test automation and reducing testing time. QA specialists use various testing methods (functional, regression, etc.) and techniques, including automated tools. They ensure the application is designed according to customer requirements, is stable and safe for users, and complies with software quality standards.
How Developers Contribute to the Testing Process
Developers can also take part in testing their software to detect bugs and problems before the QA department steps in. They perform several types of testing:
- Unit testing: testing individual code modules (for example, functions or classes) to ensure each module works correctly. Usually, these automated tests can run quickly and frequently.
- Integration testing: testing the interaction between different application modules or components to make sure they work right together and, for example, testing the interaction between the server and client side of the application.
- Snapshot testing ensures that updates in the code do not lead to unexpected changes in the user interface (UI). During Snapshot testing, the developer matches the screenshots interface before and after updating the code. Snapshot testing allows for fast feedback during development. Snapshots serve as living documentation, showcasing a component’s expected output at a given time. They can be easily shared with team members, aiding collaboration and providing valuable context.
- UI test validates the work of the user interface. The developer ensures those user interface elements are correctly displayed on a screen so that the user can interact with interface elements. All functional elements, such as forms, buttons, dropdowns, etc., must work correctly.
- System tests: testing the entire application to ensure it works correctly and meets the customer’s requirements. Developers can also use automated tools such as unit testing frameworks, simulation tools, user interaction, or utility to check the security of an application.
It’s impossible to rely on a developer alone and expect them to replace the entire QA department and its testing processes. Developers’ contribution is a valuable supplement to the QA process that cuts the time required to find and eradicate bugs.
How Big Projects Failed Because of Lack of Testing
The failure to properly test the software before its launch by the National Healthcare System of Great Britain in 2011 is an illustrative example of insufficient testing. As a result, an abandoned IT system cost taxpayers nearly £10bn.
This malfunction made patients’ private data accessible by unauthorized users, with part of the data lost or transferred incorrectly. A nationwide digital initiative was finally abandoned, with bills exceeding £10bn.
Another example is a failure in operating the U.S. web service VaccineFinder used for booking a vaccine appointment. In 2021 the service could not process many requests for vaccine appointments, massively preventing users from finding available reservations. Analysts pointed out that this trouble could have been avoided if quality assurance had been appropriately done during load tests before it was launched.
Pros and Cons of Testing on a Project
The test procedure on a project has apparent pros and cons. First, we’ll start with the pros:
- Product quality improvement: detecting bugs and defects in the product allows developers to fix them before release. This process improves the overall product quality and reduces the number of user problems.
- Saving time and money: through testing, you find errors in the early stages of development, saving you additional costs for fixing problems in the future. Early testing reduces the time for testing in later stages and debugging in the future.
- Boosting confidence in the product: testing allows you to ensure that the product works as it should, increasing confidence in its quality and functionality.
- Improve communication: testing contributes to more effective communication between developers and testers, which helps reduce errors and debugging time.
- Facilitate adding new features: testing allows you to quickly validate the performance of new features in your system and provide an easier rollout of new features.
- Improving the company’s reputation: products tested for quality improve the company’s reputation in the eyes of customers and potential buyers.
- Security improvement: Security testing helps identify and fix vulnerabilities in the product, preventing potential security threats for users.
- Usability improvement: usability testing allows for identifying and fixing interface and user experience problems, improving the product’s usability.
Now that we’ve understood the advantages of having tests let’s think about the potential negative sides:
1. Additional costs: testing requires additional time, aids, and equipment. These requirements can be costly, especially for small projects.
- The need to update tests: testing requires constant updates to keep it relevant and effective. It also takes up time and resources.
- Training and support: Testing requires knowledge, experience, support, and training of teams involved in testing.
- If the documentation is outdated and does not meet the requirements and functionality of the product, testing can be ineffective or even detrimental to the quality of the product.
- Limitation of testing: testing cannot detect all possible problems in the product because it cannot entail every use case. Some problems can only be discovered during the actual use of the product.
- Risk to data privacy: If testing includes the use of real data, then there is a risk of confidentiality breach if that data is not processed correctly or protected.
Quality Assurance tests offer more advantages than downsides, and the latter usually relates to costs. When you see bugs in your product and eliminate them on time, you boost product quality and brand trust, saving time and money that would otherwise be needed to rectify bugs on the fly. Being a crucial part of the development process of any app, testing allows for revealing and fixing problems before the production release.
That said, as a product owner, you should be aware of potential risks and costs associated with testing and be able to balance them with the value generated by testing. It’s also important to realize that testing cannot be the final stage of development but should accompany development from its earliest stages. Being integrated into the development process, tests run at every stage to comply with high-quality standards.
The product release doesn’t mean that testing is over. It’s crucial to keep testing your app after release so you can discover and eliminate troubles arising during the app use. Continuous testing improves product quality, ensures high user satisfaction, cares about the users’ safety, and contributes to having more positive feedback.
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