Quality Assurance: the Special Sauce

Or how to season your implementation with iterative testing and training

July 6, 2020 | Cara Schrock

illustration of a sauce bottle

Not the secret sauce, but the SPECIAL sauce. Not the kind of sauce that helps pull it all together and sits hidden between other foundational key ingredients. The kind of sauce that drips down the side and makes its presence known. You aren't quite sure what it is exactly but all you know is the end result wouldn't be nearly as good without it. 

Are we talking about a burger, or a Quality Assurance (QA) team? I don't even know anymore, but today we'll focus on the Quality Assurance department at TBG. Now to be clear, Quality at TBG isn’t the purview of a specific department, but rather a multi-disciplinary approach to how we continuously deliver high-quality value to our clients.

There is an entire skilled team behind the great work we do for our clients, and Quality Management and Enablement are a strong focus for our approach to projects. Most specifically, the role of the Quality Assurance department is to ensure that great work is functioning to the best of its ability before it makes its public debut, and that we’ve given our clients the tools they need to manage their content in the Content Management System it was built in. While QA is our passion, we're also teachers, mothers, designers, photographers, writers, musicians; all skills that may seem independent from Quality Assurance but actually aid in our ability to be both methodical and detail focused while thinking critically, creatively, and outside the box. This ensures an endless variety of test cases and perspectives are taken into account during our testing. It's not just our skill set that is diverse, our team spans around the globe for the perfect dash of international flavor. 

Here at TBG in the QA department we like to think of ourselves as one of the several key ingredients to mouthwatering digital solutions. We're proud of the work we do and the fun we have while doing it, adding pinches and dashes of humor where we can in the form of entertaining test users and copy, meme-worthy test images and we find there is very little communication in our slack channels that cannot be expressed via .gif. Not to brag, but we’re kind of a big deal around here (we love our Will Ferrell movie references).

Throughout the lifecycle of a project or enhancement, whether it's a new component, page type, or complete site build or redesign, the work passes through the hands of our QA team multiple times, first going through our strategy and design teams until it is handed off to QA from our talented front- and back-end developers.

Screen shot of TBG's Work with Chemours, A multi-brand, multi-region, multi-language B2B ecosystem

Whether it's a minor update or a complete build or redesign, our entire team's focus is always on delivering high quality.

We start by ensuring the HTML of the template matches the approved designs. Do the colors match? Are the components in the correct place with the correct layout? How's the spacing and font size? Let’s see if these accordions and tabs are doing what they should. But wait, why does this icon look one way in Chrome but slightly different in IE? Do Firefox, Edge and Safari look okay? And let us not forget about mobile: iPhones, Androids, and tablets, and keeping up with the constant release of new devices and operating systems. Is our software responsiveness handling the constant evolution in the mobile world? 

Once we get the foundation ironed out with our Front-end Development team, Back-end Developers convert their written technical specifications into code and blend it with the HTML foundation turning it into a fully functioning product. That is when QA can really get to the meat of it: does it work as expected?

With approved technical specifications, we have the recipe to bring back to our test kitchen and create our own sample pages. But first we marinade on it a bit; we do not simply go down a checklist of requirements, we have to put ourselves in our client's shoes. Of course, we make sure data fields are accepting what they should and doing what they are supposed to on the front-end. Testing forms and filters, search functionality and standard data fields. We create, add, edit, delete, and rearrange complete components. Images, body copy, videos, icons, logos, and links. Navigation at the top, navigation at the bottom, and navigation down the sides. If it's on the page, we've ensured it's working as the end user would expect it to. But we do not only ask ourselves if it works, we ask if it flows nicely for the user with the greatest of ease. We want to serve up nothing less than a Michelin 3-star experience for our users.

And then we try to break it.

Making sure everything works in positive path use cases is integral to what we do but equally integral is preparing for those unexpected scenarios. We do things a user should never do and most likely never will...but just what if they do? We need to ensure they aren't met with an ugly server error and instead see our site handling everything thrown its way in a user-friendly way. If end users are going to do something funky with their browsers back button or the content entry team leaves out required data, then we need to make sure that funky browser use and missing content is handled with style and grace. Just like our HTML testing, we verify this all works across multiple browsers, devices, and operating systems.

And then we do it again. And again. Our design-build goes through several rounds on several test environments, first course, second course, each one a little closer to production, before its final launch. Throughout our Agile process, we also create user guides (cookbooks if you will) and train our clients along the way to enable them to fully run both front and back of the house on their own come launch day.

In the final stages, QA makes sure all the bug fixes and properly functioning code from our initial development and testing made it all the way up the chain and nothing new decided to surprise us. And once that last needed fix is approved, it is then with QA’s (backed by our company-wide approach to Quality) and the client’s final blessing, that it is now ready for the world to feast their eyes upon a new digital solution. Now, what’s for dessert?

To find out more about how TBG delivers quality, contact us for a consultation.

 

About the Author

Cara Schrock

I'm a Quality Assurance Analyst at TBG and mother who enjoys photography and spreading the good word of veganism.

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