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The problem is that unless someone is checking for such errors they may go unnoticed - until a customer complains.
Quality Assurance Tasks
Quality Assurance is the activity that makes sure a site functions correctly and is in conformance with organisational standards. It encompasses two main areas: Data Collection & Data Analysis.
The aim of this task is to gather data against which a site can be examined for issues of quality. In practical terms, it requires a site to validated against a series of checkpoints, including:
- Checking for broken links.
- Checking for missing content, e.g. images.
- Checking for missing page titles.
- Checking the spelling and grammar of content.
- Checking for missing metadata.
- Checking the file sizes of pages to ensure they are not too large.
- Checking for browser compatibility.
- Checking that applications are functioning correctly, e.g. online forms.
- Checking that any Server Side Scripting or other languages function correctly.
- Checking that legal and regulatory guidelines are being adhered to, e.g. data protection and privacy.
- Checking that pages conform to your organisation's Web-Accessibility standard (if any), e.g. missing 'alt-tags'.
- Checking that the Website Design standard is maintained.
Data Analysis examines all of the information that has been collected and from that an 'Issues Log' is complied. The purpose of this log is to set-out all items found in violation of a QA checkpoint, e.g. broken links, oversized images, etc. These can then be allocated to a developers for adjustment.
The tasks of Quality Assurance should generally be undertaken on a weekly basis. However, this may change depending on the scale of your website or the importance of the content that is hosted. Nevertheless, experience suggests a week is a good window for catching errors. It is also useful for fitting in with a regular Maintenance Review Meeting.
Although it is an essential activity, Quality Assurance can be very labor-intensive. This is especially so for websites that are large in size.
Fortunately, this has been recognised for some time and several software products are available to automate these activities. Some of the most popular include:
- Google Webmaster Tools
- DedupeYourData (a powerful tool for QA of structured data)
A comprehensive list of *free* QA tools is maintained by Rick Hower at the website www.softwareqatest.com
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About Shane Diffily
I am an experienced commentator on web operations. In 2015, I released the web's first online training course in website management and governance. Back in 2006 I published the Website Manager's Handbook, the original guide to online operations.