Quality engineering (QE) is an evolution of software testing quality assurance. QE is a holistic, contextualized quality approach that ensures that digital products are designed, developed, and released continuously to meet or exceed customers’ expectations, and that provides a long-lasting, sustainable competitive edge.
Quality Engineers are most successful when their work is hidden in plain sight: the digital product we are getting is providing great Ux, that is updated and released frequently, which is only possible when Quality Engineer activities are not a bottleneck, actively, if slowing software delivery down, or passively, where its activities are finding critical issue, late in the software delivery process.
While the work of quality engineers leaves many users blithely unaware of how smoothly a system is functioning, that work is more visible in a compact entity, such as an app. Users open an app and expect a user experience that is crisp, speedy, and accurate. It should provide them with the needed information and the ability to respond to that information with the correct user action.
When done well, QE makes an app stable, secure, and high-performing, and gives its UX a competitive edge. Here’s how you can tell an app is designed with good QE – and how to focus on it in your app design.
Users realize what they want, companies realize software faster than ever
With the proliferation of apps in all industries and the increase of monetisation of digital products, QE has become about so much more. The ultimate success of QE comes into play when it identifies problems a potential user didn’t know they had and suggests a resolution for them, leaving them with only one obvious choice: to use the app.
QE is part of DevOps, and Good DevOps demands equal focus on security, UX, and performance to ensure that they are running seamlessly, while not creating bottlenecks around software release pace. Chances are, if they’re doing this, the customer is left with less time to think “Hey, do I want this?” They’ve already opened the app and are searching its offerings by force of habit. A well-engineered app covers the entire span of questions – Do I need to look at this? Where do I find XYZ? How can I share content to another app? – and creates an experience so inconspicuous that it becomes ingrained in a user’s day.
Unique mobile needs are met
Because QE spans the life cycle of development and across all sides involved in application design and development, it must be tweaked according to the product it serves. QE for mobile apps generally has the same goals and principles as QE for websites but goes about achieving them differently.
A mobile-first approach is tailored to mobile challenges, meeting requirements of form factors, operating systems, and browsers. Since mobile apps have a high churn rate – approximately 75% in the first 90 days – and are subject to offloading and re-installation, QE is there not only to assure the best possible experience within an app but the ease of downloading and installing the app at whatever time and in whatever location a user decides to.
Developers’ lives get easier
Existing under the umbrella of DevOps, quality engineers and app developers must partner on the deepest level to reduce bottlenecks, minimize overlapping efforts, and clear up misunderstandings that create delay and frustration. Although its processes might first appear to slow developers down, when applied correctly, QE makes their work more secure and brings DevSecOps to life, enabling a better rate of successful deployments and a better digital app.
Nowhere is this partnership more evident than in developers’ efforts to publish an app within app stores. Some companies accept that it’s a cumbersome process to be admitted to the stores, but it doesn’t have to be if developers have employed the right QE practices. Testing, especially in security and app release, will ensure that the app meets store standards and accelerate its publication.
Spend money to make money
Whether for productivity, social connection, entertainment, or anything else, apps engage users differently and need to excel at different tasks. QE treats all apps equally in revealing their weaknesses – specifically, where they lose money – and providing solutions to strengthen them.
A prime example of this is Amazon, which quantified the cost of delay on the front end of its app and found that every millisecond of page load time cost them 1% of sales. When the company’s QE process showed a delay in page loading, customers were seen dropping out of check-out at peak times. After developers fixed the delay, customers had a higher rate of completing check-out, even at peak times of day or week when the site experienced its highest amounts of traffic. Google had a similar revelation, finding that an extra .5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20%.
QE requires companies to invest, but that expenditure will keep users on the app and set the company up to reap substantial returns.
The future of QE is extra value
As quality engineering progresses, its primary focus will be on creating extra value for the user. Developers should be striving to balance speed to market and quality within their product. Quality has been the primary focus up until now, but people are wanting to see things move faster and more efficiently.
Without compromising quality, developers are now concentrating on speeding up development through automation and risk-based AI-powered testing, both of which create even more value in saved time and anticipated needs. None of this will be achieved in one decisive step, but through trial and error: the very foundation of quality engineering, and the process by which the next great app is built.