Problem – With so many different website testing strategies out there, which is right for you and your business?
Solution – Covering what to do if you don't have a website testing strategy, basing a strategy around internal QA teams and the benefits of outsourcing.
Read Time – 9 Minutes
App and website testing should be a key part of ensuring digital performance goals are met. After all, the success and profitability of your e-commerce business depends on your site functioning as it should and as seamlessly as possible.
But is the testing strategy you are pursuing as effective as it could be? Is it keeping pace with the changes you are making to your sites and apps?
At the same time, can you demonstrate how testing is profitable for your business and see how its insights are proactively contributing to future success? Is your QA function so rammed that nothing is being released and affecting your ability to compete? Or is it more chaotic than that? Are you trapped in a cycle of ‘push and pray’ when it comes to new functionality releases. Is a lack of long term strategy endangering your revenue and your reputation?
Maybe you have no testing strategy at all. If you outsource your website build you may be confident that your external agency is running all the necessary tests to keep your site functioning properly. But can you be sure of complete transparency when a company is ‘marking their own homework’?
You may become aware of functional and usability issues when they’re raised by your internal team, or even a customer, that may prompt you to conduct mini-investigations that provoke further questions. But until there’s a major outage or problem, you may never become actively involved in testing or see the results of functional and non-functional testing that could inform your thinking on a daily basis.
Outsourcing your build and your testing is always an act of faith, and you may feel that taking the testing headcase away is what you pay for. But it can remove you from a crucial source of data around your site. And not having a clear view of how testing is feeding back into proposals for change and further optimisation could put you at a distinct disadvantage.
Using in house teams to plan and execute your strategy
Leaner businesses, with strong development credentials committed to building ever more exciting digital experiences, may only have a small internal QA function behind them or none at all.
There are many companies who simply rely on their own developers to test their own releases with a peer review policy, or an ad hoc, ‘all hands on deck’ approach to testing when they need to get new stuff live. But when testing is the responsibility of everyone, it can easily become the responsibility of no one. These approaches don’t always contribute to a long term strategy of testing, learning and optimisation.
Instead, companies who aren’t thinking strategically about their testing may find themselves in a stressful and endlessly repeated cycle of test, release and subsequent bug hunting.
In these companies, the strenuous efforts of damage limitation can end up being valued, over more systematic and long term solutions:
“We rarely measure preventative costs, and we even more rarely reward them. Instead, we prefer to concentrate on heroics—working all night to fix the last few bugs, or investigating a workaround for a serious issue at the last minute.”
— from How We Test Software at Microsoft (Developer Best Practices) by Alan Page
A strategy based around Internal QA teams
Where dedicated QA teams exist, they may be seen as simply another hurdle for developers to overcome, or a bottle-neck that just never seems to clear.
But in the current digital landscape, it may be no surprise that an existing QA function can struggle to add value to a business beyond ensuring the basic, short term functioning of a website or app. It may be more a recognition that they simply haven’t got the necessary tools and resources to uncover all the device-specific bugs that lurk unseen before release or carry on a continual process of usability testing that will keep conversion rate growing post-release.
With the huge and growing number of devices, browsers and operating systems on the market, it’s practically impossible for a typical inhouse team to test all the possible combinations that could be accessing a site.
Similarly, as businesses move into cycles of continuous deployment, regression and new functionality testing becomes an ongoing and constant challenge that smaller teams can struggle to cover effectively. Pulling in more contractors to cover any shortfalls can be expensive and is not a long term solution.
Supplementing manual resource with automated testing sounds like it might save time, but even after automated tests have been run, teams still have to manually re-run the tests to verify the results and prioritize bugs for fixing.
Sometimes there is just no substitute for real-world testing with real-world devices.
Outsourced testing as part of the mix
External, professional testers can be used in different ways to plug the gaps in your coverage.
When it comes to major software releases or re-platforming projects you may want to bring external testers in as an extra resource to quickly and exhaustively index and prioritise the functional and usability issues within staging, so that you can be sure revenue will not be affected when you go live.
Similarly, businesses who have been hit by problems (sudden drops in revenue and conversion) following updates or releases can also turn to external teams of professional testers to provide urgent insight for corrective action.
But external testers can be much more than an overspill testing resource or a troubleshooting solution.
The right testing company with the right mixture of hardware and expertise can bring huge, ongoing benefits to any size of e-commerce enterprise:
- With tens of thousands of available testers working on real-world devices, these companies can deliver regression and functionality testing at speed and scale. Crucially, they can be deployed in continual rounds of testing to match the pace and frequency of your updates and releases. No more delays or bottlenecks as testing is completed in hours and as often as necessary to ensure new bugs have not been introduced with every update.
- When it comes to usability testing, the sheer size of the pool of testers a professional agency can provide, can also give you access to particular demographic groups to reflect the make up of your target audience. Better quality, more targeted usability testing can give you the insight you need for further conversion rate optimisation.
- But increasingly, with the adoption of Agile and DevOps, testers need to collaborate with developers for faster and bug-free build deployments. Your testers should have development skills to properly collaborate with the development team, enabling them to deliver exploratory testing that further seeks out and uncovers unknown bugs and issues. The right external testing team will be able to offer testing resource with just these kind of skills. They will bring the expertise to easily and confidently co-operate with your inhouse QA function, as well as your developers.
Outsourced testing can supplement the efforts of inhouse teams to great effect. They can also form part of a more long term and systematic process of continual functional and non-functional testing.
They can be deployed to protect your digital revenue through ongoing regression testing while providing usability insights at a truly meaningful scale. They can free internal QA teams to write better tests, coordinate and collaborate more effectively with developers and really focus on the optimisation challenges that hold the key to growth.