- Nov 27, 2018
- by Brad Litwin
No matter what type of website you run, it can be hard work to keep it error-free. Especially if your site has dozens or hundreds of pages, staying on top of corrections often becomes a nightmare. Plus, mistakes don’t just look unprofessional; they can also harm your business.
Fortunately, you don’t have to test every detail on your site by yourself. Quality Assurance (QA) testing is a way to methodically check websites for problems, including technical issues such as HTML errors or broken and dead links. Resolving these errors provides users with a better experience, and can even improve your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
In this article, we’ll explain what QA testing is, discuss whether your site might benefit from the process, and offer some tips for how to hire a reliable tester. Let’s get going!
QA Testing Explained
In a nutshell, QA testing is the process of methodically searching for errors in a product, in order to ensure its quality. Many industries use QA testers, although they’re most common in software development and similar fields. For our purposes, we’ll be focusing solely on website testing.
QA testers can evaluate a website from multiple angles, evaluating both the front-end content as well as the underlying functionality. Here are just a few examples of what a knowledgeable QA tester will look for:
- Does every button and menu item lead where it’s supposed to?
- Are there any broken links?
- Does the content contain any spelling or grammatical errors?
- Is your site’s code optimized for fast loading times?
In other words, a QA tester tries to ensure that every single element of your website is working as intended. Naturally, this can be a very valuable process.
How to Decide if Your Site Can Benefit from a QA Tester
When deciding whether to hire a QA tester, you’ll need to consider both your needs and the potential costs. In general, the larger and more complex your company’s website is, the more you would benefit from a QA testing phase.
One reason for this is that a bigger site is much more difficult to check yourself. For example, if you have hundreds of website pages, each containing dozens of links, checking for broken URLs can become quite time consuming. Even if you were willing to learn how to conduct a successful QA test, it can be impossible to catch every mistake on your own.
QA testing is also more useful when the stakes for your company site are high. For example, if your business depends on an online store, a QA tester can be crucial. If a product image is missing from one of your items, or one page contains a broken “purchase” button, your sales will take a very real hit. A QA tester can also check for website security, and make sure your visitors’ information will be safe.
Of course, QA testers are not be needed for every site. On a small scale, many of a QA tester’s functions can be fulfilled through other means. If you have a small website and a tight budget, you may be better off taking a DIY approach, or outsourcing some of the burden to other types of workers.
For example, proofreaders can be a lot cheaper to hire than QA testers. If your site consists of a simple five-page setup, it may make more sense (and save you money) to hire a proofreader to spell-check your content and look for broken links as a part of that process. You can also use a free code debugger, such as Google Developer Tools, to identify more technical errors on your own.
If you run a small blog or personal site, or you’re simply comfortable conducting tests on your own, a dedicated tester may not be necessary. On the other hand, QA testers can be invaluable for large or complex sites, and for businesses that rely on their online functionality working properly.
How to Hire a Reliable QA Tester
If you do decide to hire a QA tester, it’s important to choose a trustworthy and experienced worker. Before we wrap up, therefore, let’s talk about how to vet a potential QA tester.
First, you’ll need to decide what services you need. It’s helpful to determine how detailed of a QA test you’ll require, before you begin looking at candidates. For example, if your site processes sensitive information (i.e., medical data or credit cards) you will want a tester who understands how to check your site’s security features.
On the other hand, if you just need a thorough spell check and a hunt for front-end mistakes such as broken links, you may be able to get by with a QA tester who doesn’t have advanced technical skills. In general, the more knowledge of code that’s required, the more expensive your QA test will be.
The average QA tester in the U.S. charges about $40 per hour. You can check a QA estimate calculator for a rough idea of how many hours your project will take, or contact an individual or company directly for a quote. To get a sense for your options, you can check out a QA testing company such as QA Werk, or look search for freelancers on a tech-specific job board like Crunch Board or Dice:
Once you’ve seen the price range that’s out there, it’s best to focus on options in the middle of that range. An unusually low price may mean that the QA tester is based overseas. That can be a problem if you’re looking for a grammar check. Bargain rates may also be a sign that a freelancer is unqualified or inexperienced. Of course, you’ll also want to look for QA testers with letters of recommendation and excellent reviews.
Naturally, your budget will determine your options to some extent. However, keep in mind that while a very experienced QA tester may cost more upfront, they can also help you save money in the long run. They may even be able to help you implement automated testing features. That way, you’ll be able to maintain your site more effectively on your own.
Hiring a QA tester can be an excellent way to ensure that your site is error-free. A QA test can involve anything from checking for grammatical mistakes to debugging your site’s code. You’re also able to choose which level of QA testing matches your needs (the higher the level, the more it will likely cost).
However, QA testing may not be appropriate for every website. Whether you should hire a QA tester will depend on your:
- Budget: Can you spare the money for a professional QA tester?
- Website size: Is your site small enough that you can reasonably perform at least a front-end check by yourself?
- Needs: If your business reputation depends on presenting a completely error-free site, or if your business model relies on an online store functioning smoothly, you may benefit from hiring a QA tester.
- Security concerns: If your website has high security requirements, for example if you process sensitive medical data or credit card information, a QA tester can help find vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
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