A Guide to the QA Process by App Makers
29 Jan 2023Content
Laxmi Hari Nepal
Table of Contents
Creating your own app is an exciting process. However, making sure that it’s functional, bug-free, and up-to-date can become tedious. It’s important to have a good quality assurance (QA) process in place so that you focus on what matters most: making your users happy!
That’s why we’ve created this guide for app makers who want to learn how QA can improve their development. Keep reading to learn about effective strategies and different types of research methods.
With the right tools and effective collaboration, you can create an app that will make a splash in a highly competitive market.
App Makers Spark More Creativity Using an Agile QA Process
Agile testing ensures continuity in the performance and success of your app. Agile quality assurance starts the testing process very early on in the developmental stages. It runs iterations constantly to keep checking on the app at all levels to allow production to flow smoothly.
Agile quality assurance testing works more organically, in that it gets implemented many times at multiple stages throughout the whole life-span of the development process. It also puts quality testing methods in place for testing after the app gets launched into the market and whenever the system updates.
Relying on an agile testing process for projects not only lets you make small changes to the app along the way. Developers can always evaluate and make changes to their testing methods. Better testing leads to a much better product.
The Benefits of Agile QA Testing
When app builders use an agile testing process, they also have a much faster turnaround period for the launch of a product. Rather than one long cycle, the agile process happens in many iterations, more like quick sprints in a relay race. Popular app makers today also make sure they have automated testing cycles set up, allowing for hundreds of iterations to be done regularly.
When you automate complex testing methods, especially regression testing, this allows you to develop newer features and focus on many different pieces. These short sprint cycles also identify a bug from the very beginning and find solutions just as quickly.
Apps need to stay updated to the second to compete in this market.
Testing the Functionality of Your Product Using Black-Box Testing
Functionality testing falls under the category of black-box testing. Black-box testing operates through testing the functionality of a software app. It does not include testing internal structures or coding.
When doing functional testing for your apps, you test each specific aspect of what the product does. This means testing the program as a whole but with different inputs. Unit testing refers to another type of functional testing where individual functions or object methods test separate functions contained within the coding.
For functional testing, teams will want to create special test cases to run the software against. This involves setting up different scripts to provide directions for the specific input run during each test.
Developers use several different types of functional testing, the most common being:
- Usability testing
- Regression testing
Let’s briefly define these two ways to test an app’s functioning.
App makers use regression testing when they recently made a change and want to ensure this change doesn’t alter the app as a whole. If a change were to cause bugs in the app, this would be called a regression.
Regression testing acts to test the quality of an app’s output. To build an app, you always find new ways to improve and discover new developments to add. When software is updated or small changes are added, these tests ensure that the app’s overall performance does not decline, and check for any bugs that might pop up.
One method involves test selection. This happens when one part of the test suite gets selected to run. In many cases, this actually is more cost-effective than running tests against the entire program.
Developers commonly run regression tests using different test cases. This helps tests be able to detect more errors by using many pre-selected test cases. Sometimes, testing runs based on which cases have a higher priority (also called general prioritization), while in other situations, testing involves prioritizing cases based on older and updated versions of the app.
Usability tests rely on people not familiar with software development or even the actual product. This will then show if the app does its job and has effective user interaction (UI) design.
Running usability tests involves several key tools to measure testing subjects at every stage to get the most thorough and accurate information possible. These include:
- Pre-test questionnaires
- Post-test questionnaires
- Scripted directions
What Happens During a Usability Test
The scripted direction usually includes a set list of tasks that a person will do for the test. This is where creating multiple test cases comes in handy. Because usability tests see how a product works within multiple pre-planned scenarios. They test for unforeseen results and to make sure the product performs the way it’s supposed to.
During usability tests, observers watch while they take detailed notes. They might be present with the test subject or hidden away in a different room. They rely on two main techniques to receive real-time feedback from their subjects. These include:
- Eye tracking
- Thinking Aloud Protocol
Common UI Techniques Explained
With eye tracking, the device can scan and record where the user looks as they navigate the app. It tests to make sure where their intuition directs their gaze, while also measuring how much they spend on different parts of the app.
The thinking-aloud protocol refers to when the user describes exactly what they do at the moment. They not only say what action they take, but they also describe why they want to take a certain action, their thought process in choosing that path, and what they observe while interacting in real-time.
One commonly used version of usability testing is called A/B testing. This method tests two different versions of the app against each other. People will have one version or another assigned to them.
This helps app makers see how certain functions work while also testing out different variants or changes and how that impacts the overall user experience.
Mastering Advanced Testing Methods to Create the Best Products
No testing protocol for mobile app development would be complete without implementing different methods which test the app at the source code level. These types of testing models are generally known as white-box testing. The methods described in the section about black-box testing can also be used to test an app’s source codes.
Instead of testing the functions of the app from the user’s perspective, unit tests or regression tests do the same things with testing input but it does so by testing the software. So, developers test the functionality of the coding to look for bugs or errors. Think of it more like testing the quality and output of an app from an insider’s perspective.
Three popular methods for internally testing software products include the following:
- Boundary-Value Analysis
- Equivalence Partitioning
- Data flow testing
Boundary-value analysis involves setting specific conditions to measure the probability of errors happening under different settings. App makers figure out the number of input cases and then test each of them. This helps find out how many test cases need to be done to find a possible error.
For equivalence partitioning methods, single test cases come from special data sets. Testing with Equivalency Partitioning has more flexibility for developers to use at any stage of production. The app can measure the results based on that one test case, which speeds up the process of elimination.
Data Flow testing runs the coding against different variables, which helps identify and remove anomalies. When developers test data flows, they rely on two different techniques:
- Control Flow graphs
- Creating associations between variables
Create a Game Plan for a Successful App Building Process
As the mobile testing field evolves with new devices, versions of apps, new agile strategies and other app-development innovations, app makers should always be on their toes to change processes as needed. The main task for each company is to constantly improve the QA process by running different tests (internal and external)
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