UKOLN AHDS QA for Web Sites: Useful Pointers

Quality Assurance

Below are some key pointers that can help you enhance the quality assurance procedures used for your Web site.

Useful Pointers

1 Authoring Tools

Are the tools that you use to create your Web site appropriate for their tasks? Do they produce compliant and accessible code? Can the tools be configured to incorporate QA processes such as HTML validation, link checking, spell checking, etc? If not, perhaps you should consider evaluating other authoring tools or alternative approaches to creating and maintaining your content.

2 Tracking Problems

How do you deal with problem reporting? Consider implementing a fault reporting log. Make sure that all defects are reported, that ownership is assigned, details are passed on to the appropriate person, a schedule for fixes is decided upon, progress made is recorded and the resolution of problem is noted. There could also be a formal signing off procedure.

3 Use A QA Model

A model such as the QA Focus Timescale Model will help you to plan the QA you will need to implement over the course of your project:

Strategic QA:
Carried out before development takes place. This involves establishing best methodology for your Web site, the choice of standards, etc.
Workflow QA:
Carried out as formative QA before and during development. This involves establishing and documenting a workflow, processes etc.
Sign-off QA:
Carried out as summative QA once one stage of development has been carried out. This involves establishing an auditing system where everything is reviewed.
On-going QA:
Carried out as summative QA once one stage of development has been carried out. This involves establishing a system to report check, fix any faults found etc.
4 Use Automated Testing Tools

There are a variety of tools out there for use and a number are open source or free to use. These can be used for HTML and CSS validation, link checking, measuring load times, etc.

5 Don't Forget Manual Approaches

Manual approaches to Web site testing can address areas which will not be detecting through use of automated tools. You should aim to test key areas of your Web site and ensure that systematic errors which are found are addressed in areas of the Web site which are not tested.

6 Use A Benchmarking Approach

A benchmarking approach involves comparisons of the findings for your Web site with your peers. This enables comparisons to be made which can help you identify areas in which you may be successful and also areas in which you may be lagging behind your peers.

7 Rate The Severity Of Problems

You could give a severity rating to problems found to decide whether the work be done now or it can wait till the next phase of changes. An example rating system might be:

Level 1:
There is a failure in the infrastructure or functionality essential to the Web site.
Level 2:
The functionality is broken, pages are missing, links are broken, graphics are missing, there are navigation problems, etc.
Level 3:
There are browser compatibility problems, page formatting problems, etc.
Level 4:
There are display issues, for example with the font, or text issues such as grammar.
8 Learn From The Problems You Find

Make sure that you do not just fix problems you find. Recognising why the problems have occurred allows you to improve your publishing processes so that the errors do not reoccur.

Useful URLs

The following resources provide additional advice on quality assurance for Web sites.