What is Quality Assurance Testing?

So you’ve heard of QA. But what is Quality Assurance testing? If you look in a dictionary like Webster (or if you’re really hip, dictionary.com), you’ll find a definition like this:

A program for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the various aspects of a project, service, or facility to ensure that standards of quality are being met.


A system for ensuring a desired level of quality in the development, production, or delivery of products and services.

But these explanations are pretty vague. They could even end up leaving you more confused! So let’s define QA testing in a way that’s a little more relevant.

What is Quality Assurance Testing?

What is Quality Assurance Testing (picture shows a wood desk with a Macbook laptop, an iPad, and an iPhone on it)First, we should be clear: when we refer to Quality Assurance testing, we’re talking about various types of software testing.

In this context, QA testing involves trying to find problems with a site or app before they reach the end user (ie: the person downloading the app from the App Store). Remember the last time your favorite app crashed? With a comprehensive QA process in place, QA testers could have caught that before it launched. Continue reading →

Best Practices for Reporting Bugs

QA Bug Report
Best Practices for Reporting Bugs

Reporting bugs with a mobile app or website is the most important job that QA has. When QA testers find bugs, the issues need to be communicated with consistency and clarity. Since the Agile QA process is all about moving fast, developers won’t always have time to follow up with QA about every little detail. But how do you follow best practices for reporting bugs?

If a bug report provides the right level of detail, it paves the way for:

  • Developers to work on the proper fix
  • Project/product managers to prioritize bug fixes
  • QA testers to avoid duplicate reporting
  • Ensuring that QA tests the bug fix correctly

Best Practices for Reporting Bugs

Include as much information as possible. Okay, so mentioning the color of the t-shirt you were wearing when you foundBest Practices for Reporting Bugs (picture shows a hand holding a coffee cup on a desk, and another hand resting on a laptop trackpad) the bug might not be helpful. But the more details you can provide about the bug scenario, the easier it will be for a developer to identify and fix it. For example, does it only happen when using a VPN? Is it Chrome-specific? Further, are free and paid accounts affected? Include these type of details in your bug report whenever possible.

If it’s a critical bug, sound the alarm. Bug reports can get lost in JIRA until the next Sprint Planning session. (Learn more about the Jira QA workflow and best practices.) So if the bug in question is serious and user-facing (for example, a crash in the live App store version), it’s a good idea to go above and beyond creating a ticket. In addition to throwing a bug report in Jira, you can Slack the URL to a product manager to make sure they’re in the loop. Continue reading →

8 Advantages of Diversity in Tech

Women in Tech
8 Advantages of Diversity in Tech

Having a diverse workplace brings many obvious benefits. For example, it provides opportunity for more workers, and reduces discrimination. But the advantages of diversity in tech don’t end there. Leveling the playing field for people from all types of backgrounds can bring your business a host of other benefits as well.

Why Does Tech Need More Diversity?

In the world of tech, it’s well-known that workplaces tend to be mostly made up of very specific types of people. It makes sense to be discerning when it comes to skill. But it’s beneficial for companies to be open when it comes to race, gender, and other metrics. Like any other sector, technology can benefit from more women, people of color, people with disabilities, trans and queer people, and diversity in general.

Advantages of Diversity in Tech (picture shows a whiteboard with two people standing in front of it)Some people think that ethics are the main positive aspect of diversity at work. We believe that this alone is reason enough to strive for it. But if you’re looking for additional reasons to make these changes, know that diversity in business also strengthens your company in many other ways. It’s truly a win-win for workers and employers in tech.

Having an open-minded hiring process that aims to give everyone a fair chance is a great starting point. Unlike the stereotype that some paint diversity initiatives as, this doesn’t mean hiring people solely because of their classification. Instead, it means taking action to remove bias from the hiring process. It’s good to keep in mind that bias can be unconscious, and you may not always be aware of it. Actively taking steps to confront it is the best way to get past it. Continue reading →

Collaborative QA: The Benefits of Job Sharing

Job Sharing
Collaborative QA: The Benefits of Job Sharing

You may have heard of job sharing. But what exactly is it, and how can it help your company? Read on to learn more about job sharing benefits, examples, and more when it comes to QA testers.

The Definition of Job Sharing

Job sharing is when two people share the workload for one full-time job. For example, if you have a 40-hour work week, each person might work twenty hours. When working with remote freelance contractors, this type of arrangement can be a huge asset when you have a tight budget. (Read more about the advantages of hiring remote workers.)

Job Sharing Benefits

Minimizing issue with time off. Anyone can be out sick or on vacation from time to time. When you have two people sharing the job, absence-related issues are greatly minimized. Where previously you may have had to delay a release, instead you now have a built-in backup. This also reduces stress for workers, who can feel less pressure to work while sick or avoid taking a vacation.

Job Sharing

Comprehensive coverage. Everyone has different preferences for working hours. Some might want to start at 7am and end the day earlier, while others would prefer to start at 10:30 and be on later. Given contractor law, having two freelancers on a project helps you stay compliant without sacrificing availability. Allowing testers to work during their ideal hours will also help them feel more energized and productive. Continue reading →

How to Prioritize Bug Fixes

Bug Prioritization
How to Prioritize Bug Fixes

Reporting bugs is an essential part of QA testing. But developers can only address so many bugs at once, so how do you prioritize bug fixes? Every team does things a little differently. Some teams have product or project managers do it. Other teams have QA estimate priorities when reporting bugs. Either way, a good QA tester should be savvy when it comes to estimating the severity and priority of bug tickets.

Not Sure How to Prioritize Bug Fixes? Consider These Factors:

How serious is the bug?

There’s a big difference between a mobile app crashing every time a user logs in vs. being a little slow to load the profile section. Is the bug something that will leave users angry? Will they be unable to use a certain page/screen or section? Or does it have a minor impact with easy workarounds? The bug’s affect on user experience will play into prioritization.

How often does the bug occur?

Is a user unable to save changes within the site 100% of the time? Or is it only happening to 1 out of 1,000 users? QA cares about all users, but the frequency of a bug changes the severity.Prioritizing Bug Fixes (picture shows the bottom half of a person wearing a blue work shirt, sitting at a desk writing in a notebook)

What devices or browsers is the bug happening on?

Is it affecting all iPhones on the most recent version of iOS? Or only iPhone 5s on iOS 9? Is it on all browsers, or just Internet Explorer 10? This ties into frequency. Much like the above issue, it will impact priority. Learn more in our guide to cross browser testing. Continue reading →

Agile QA Process

Agile QA Process (White board with Agile post-its in columns)
Agile QA Process

Agile has revolutionized the software development life cycle, making it faster and more efficient. Awesome, right? We’re big fans of the Agile QA process. But if used incorrectly, it can actually slow things down. So how do you make sure your development process is optimized for QA?

What is Agile?

Agile is a process that (unlike Waterfall) delivers functionality updates regularly. It’s common for releases to happen every few weeks with an Agile process.

For example, you may have noticed that apps like Spotify and Starbucks often have new updates in the App Store or Play Store. If you look at the release notes, you’ll see new features or bug fixes that are in the update.

The Agile QA process can be challenging, as it means having lots to test in a short amount of time. QA has to test existing functionality, new features, bug fixes, data, and even more depending on the type of website or mobile app.

Manual vs. Automated Agile QA

If manual testing is the only defense against bugs, Agile can be an even bigger undertaking. That’s why it’s a best practice to have both manual and automated testing in an Agile QA process. Even if you only have automation for a handful of test cases, it can still make a big difference. Additionally, if the QA team is not included in planning activities, or if the QA-to-developer ratio isn’t optimal, there can be pretty significant consequences. But if the team incorporates some common sense strategies, these issues can be minimized — and in many cases, eliminated completely.

(If you want to know more about what type of QA is right for your situation, see our guide, What Type of QA Testing Do You Need?)

What are the Principles of the Agile Manifesto?

Satisfy the Customer Through Early & Continuous Delivery of Useful Software

There’s a lot to unpack here — above all, satisfying the customer. A client or user is not going to be satisfied if a release is riddled with bugs, which further reinforces the importance of QA. (If you’re a B2B company like a digital agency, you might even have multiple levels of “customers” to satisfy!)

Agile QA Process (picture shows a board with Week 3/4/5/6/7 notes with post-its in different columns)The second point emphasizes early and continuous delivery. For this to be an ongoing success, the process itself needs to be on point. Ideally, this means QA would weigh in from the planning phase through delivery. By following this process, even if issues come up during development, release risks can be addressed.

Product managers can then make adjustments to scope in order to meet the release date. They can also put out any other fires when they come up — instead of waiting until the last two days of the sprint. (This can also be helped by including QA in Sprint Planning.) Continue reading →

10 Advantages of Hiring Remote Workers

Benefits of Hiring Remote Workers (icon of a cartoon woman with long dark hair, a green shirt, jeans, and Converse-style sneakers. She's sitting cross-legged with a laptop in her lap, and a golden ship wheel with leaves coming out of it behind her)
10 Advantages of Hiring Remote Workers

For workers, there are lots of benefits to working from home. A commute that’s ten feet instead of ten (or fifty) miles? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone to complain about that! But the perks of hiring remote workers aren’t just for the staff. There are many advantages for the company as well, including some that can be pretty surprising.

Telecommuting Worker Desk (computer with plants and books on a desk)Increased Productivity from Hiring Remote Workers

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine someone working from home? For many people, there’s an assumption that a remote worker couldn’t possibly be as productive as they would be at an office.

While this is true for some, anyone who has the right personality for remote work can end up being far more productive than even the most organized office. Working from home – or anywhere other than an office – does require responsibility and commitment, of course. (Learn more in our guide to Tips and Tools for Working Remotely.) But for those that are cut out for it, there are many reasons why working away from the office can actually be less distracting and more productive: Continue reading →

What Makes a Good QA Engineer?

What Makes a Good QA Tester (image of a tablet with a magnifying glass over it)
What Makes a Good QA Engineer?

People often ask what makes a good QA engineer. What skills do you need to succeed in QA testing, and how do you get started? If you’re already in QA, how do you measure your success? Read on for a list of some of the essential skills you need to be a good software tester, as well as advice on measuring your success as a QA Engineer or Analyst.

What Makes a Good QA Tester (image of a tablet with a magnifying glass over it)Detail-Oriented

There’s no way around it — being detail-oriented is the number one skill you need to excel in the world of QA. Of course, being detail-oriented can be an asset in any type of career. But it’s absolutely essential for anyone in QA. When testing an app or website, a QA tester needs to be able to spot not only glaring errors, but anything and everything that isn’t perfect.
Continue reading →