Using Software to Automate the QA Process
I wanted to share with you all today, a little software tool I’ve been building which will help EverSpark tremendously when it comes to the QA process. This tool is something that I’m particularly proud of and I’ll explain why later in my post. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “QA,” it stands for Quality Assurance. As it stands now, it is a long and tedious task to properly QA a given product. Sometimes, so much so, it can and will delay the release and push back the expected (or reported) deadline. Ultimately, it can lead to an unhappy client simply due to the fact that we didn’t deliver a finished product when we promised we would. Whether it’s a website, a software program, or even a physical product that a company is trying to market and sell, everything must go through the QA process before release. In our specific case, we do QA on every website that we build or make changes to (if you already have a website). In our current process, we have 3 steps to guarantee a quality website is presented to the client with minimal errors.
The 3 steps in our QA process are as follows:
- “During build” QA – Basically, the dev team (myself included) must check their work as they go. (this knocks out the majority of issues we will have later on in the process)
- Pre-Launch QA – In the days before we present to the client, all teams do QA across the entire site. If we find any ‘major’ errors, or a high number of errors, we must fix them before releasing the website. (this is typically where the delays occur)
- And Post-Launch QA – In this step, we give it one final shot after the site is published. After we are done with OUR final fixes, the client has a chance to voice their changes to us, and we implement them.
The Web Development team here at ESI does what we call “web dev QA.” Similarly, the content department does QA for the content on every page of each website, and the SEO team takes care of “SEO QA,” basically to guarantee that the website meets the current SEO guidelines. Once all 3 of our teams are finished with steps 1 – 3, and we are satisfied with the results, we will publish and release the website to the client. At this point in time, there should be ZERO errors on the website. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and has proven true on more than one occasion. Now, as you may (or may not) already know, we’re all human and we all make mistakes. Some are excusable, some are not. My ultimate goal with this tool is to take care of all the obvious things that should be implemented, and to automate all of the tedious parts of our process. The tedious and time-consuming aspects of the process, are the parts that tend to have the most errors because they are simply overlooked. This happens due to people getting burnt out from having to cross-reference every single aspect of a page, with a spreadsheet showing how it “should” be. This process can take several hours for each team, up to several days.
This tool, WILL fix that problem. This software will be able to cross-reference every page on a given website, against the site-plan (which specifies how the page is supposed to look) in a matter of minutes! What’s so special about this, is that it will be able to do so on a mass-scale. If we are given a website with 150 pages, that doesn’t seem like a whole lot to most of us here in the tech community, so it shouldn’t take you guys too long to QA that site, right? Wrong. What people tend to overlook, is the fact that there is no telling how many links there are on each page. A 150 page site could potentially have anywhere from 150 links to 1,000 links! 1,000 links is unlikely but it DOES happen. Typically that number is more or less, around 300. So that’s 300 links that we have to manually click on and/or check, to make sure they don’t lead to any 404’s, internal 301’s, etc… As you can now tell, that alone can take 2-3 hours and that doesn’t even include everything else we have to check on EACH page. Get my drift?
Now on to the tool… Once I am finished building this software, we will simply have to import our SEO team’s site-plan into the tool and click “Go”… How simple is that! In a matter of minutes, it will display a lovely list of every url (showing every discrepancy in the url structure), every canonical url, every title tag, h1 tag, h2 tag, meta description, meta keywords, and it will even tell you if the site has a global “noindex, nofollow” directive! It will also check the robots directive on each page as well! It will show if a specific page has a “noindex, nofollow”, “noindex, follow” meta directive, etc… It will also mark the page if it should have a certain directive but doesn’t. But, with all of that said, there are crawlers out there which can show you all of this information already. The difference is, this tool can import what it is supposed to be, and will check to see if it actually IS. Once it is done, it will highlight every discrepancy in red, and will highlight them green if they are found to be implemented as expected. This will potentially knock off 20+ hours of QA time for every site of ours! Not to mention, it will remove the element of ‘human error’ which is a huge achievement.
My hope is that I will have this software completed sometime in the next month or two so be sure to check in soon for an update! In the next couple of days, I will post a screenshot of the tool at work and will show you it’s functionality up to this point. I hope you’re as excited about this software as I am, but if not, that’s okay! For some of you, this won’t mean anything. But for others, going forward, this will drastically affect the amount of time spent, the quality of the resulting product, and most importantly, the efficiency of our process here at EverSpark Interactive. If you take anything out of this article, at the absolute least, I hope I was able to shed some new light and give you a better understanding of the QA process that is involved with every site we develop. That’s all I have for today, thank you all for your time.