If you are managing web projects then you will know that maintaining a high level of quality throughout the website you are producing is hard to do.
There are so many things that can go wrong, and will if they are given the chance - from small typos and grammar mistakes in the copy to broken images and links, layout problems in various web browsers and functionality either not working or not working very well.
Problems can range from being mildly annoying and a little bit frustrating to actually preventing the user from purchasing a product, finding out information about a product or service or making an enquiry.
All issues, even the small ones, can detract from an otherwise positive experience, which can have the knock on effect of making the user feel less positive about the company whose website they were viewing.
So our job is to make sure that users have the best possible experience that they can when they view the website we have project managed or produced.
This includes picking up on all site quality issues starting with any priority or big issues and working our way down to the smaller and less obvious or important items.
User experience and usability testing goes into a huge area in its own right but there is still enough to concern ourselves with ensuring the quality of what is produced is as good as it can be.
The job of quality control would be made easier if visitors arrived at the website under the same set of circumstances as every other visitor, but they don't.
Visitors use a wide variety of different web browsers on different operating systems using different computers with different resolutions and software installed accessing your website at different broadband speeds creating a huge number of configurations.
In an ideal world, each configuration should be tested so that you can be confident that a user that has a particular combination of browser, operating system, resolution, Internet speed and software installed is able to view and use your website correctly.
Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world and it is not feasible to test in every browser and operating system combination, as the time required is not available to most project managers or website owners.
A good quality website will display and work correctly in all the main web browsers.
Additionally, we can't forget about those visitors that have special requirements - I'm talking about accessibility - which means that those using text browsers, screen readers, different input devices, etc. are also able to use your website effectively.
A minimum accessibility level is a requirement for all websites and the best quality websites will provide the most accessible website that they can.
A slow website is extremely frustrating for even the most patient of website visitor, and most of us are not patient website visitors.
Performance testing will highlight bottlenecks and show where code needs to be improved or optimised that causes the website to slow down. It could be that the site search takes a long time to display results or that there are too many database connections each time a page loads, which causes the site to slow or stop working altogether.
A top quality website will address these issues so that the user is able to view a responsive website and not a site that suffers from repeated slowdowns.
In this post I've highlighted just a few areas that should be tested regularly for any website, from straightforward copy mistakes and broken links through browser checking and accessibility to performance testing.
Successfully testing each of these areas will improve the quality of the website that you are producing or managing and we owe it to users to give them the best possible experience.
In my view that means no typos, no broken links, no areas of the site that don't work and a whole lot more besides.
Striving for the best quality is not going to be easy, and I will follow up on this post with some hints and tips to help your quality testing.
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