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User experience in interactive and digital media is no different than a customer experience gained by actually visiting an outlet. Similarly, a dysfunctional and complicated web/mobile experience makes the potential customer to stop using a service just like a confusing physical outlet would let a customer walk out of it .

In the past few years, with massive explosion of web and mobile devices, companies have started shifting their marketing budgets from traditional media to digital media – creating a new paradigm to reach out to their audience. This has enabled brands to focus their various campaigns around specific geo & demographics while pushing the frontiers of marketing and brand recognition. This rapid growth has resulted in information being available at ‘one-click’. As this is a great way to engage your intended consumers, it also opens up another critical aspect of customer satisfaction: User Experience.

User experience in interactive and digital media is no different than a customer experience gained by actually visiting an outlet. Similarly, a dysfunctional and complicated web/mobile experience makes the potential customer to stop using a service just like a confusing physical outlet would let a customer walk out of it .

Recently, a fortune 500 company faced issues of online portal going down; resulting in severe customer reaction on social media outlets, especially Twitter. Incidents like these bring us to a point where it is crucial for a brand to be protected against ever increasing complicated world of digital media – all the while, focusing on creating rich experience for the end user to gain new customers.

In my personal experience of working with various award-winning digital media agencies – I have come to know of certain challenges common among all of these organizations; no matter how big or small they are. The bottom line is that these challenges directly impact the quality of your end product, which may or may not also result in company’s disability to meet the deadlines or in the cancellation of the entire product launch

This brings us to some very common misunderstandings about QA & Testing that exist in digital media world.

Three of these myths are

·         QA and Testing is not worth spending additional thousands of dollars on a project if careful planning and implementing checks are being taken at the right stages of digital media production

·         Today’s fast paced, every-minute changing digital world cannot take up a “Process Oriented” QA and Testing Approach without significantly hurting and delaying our timelines

·         QA and its related activities are a mere cost burden on the organization

Let us now analyze, logically, all of these myths and justify why they are not true and why every organization shall only benefit by employing QA and Testing.

Myth # 1: QA and Testing is not worth spending additional thousands of dollars on a project if careful planning and implementing checks are being taken at the right stages of digital media production

CEO’s and CTO’s are often mistaken when they tend to believe that because they are putting extra care into each stage of the development of a product; the end result is bound to be error-free. So is not the case in software development. CEO’s believe it to be wastage of valuable resources to spend on Quality assurance.

The key is to look at QA and Software testing not as expenditure but as an investment. QA pays off In the long run by saving much on launch delays due to occurrence of unexpected bugs and problems and is totally worth spending those extra few bucks to save so much from failures.

In November of 1997 the stock of a major health industry company dropped 60% due to reports of failures in computer billing systems, problems with a large database conversion, and inadequate software testing. It was reported that more than $100,000,000 in receivables had to be written off and that multi-million dollar fines were levied on the company by government agencies.

Could anyone be absolutely certain it couldn’t happen to them? Spending a couple thousand bucks doesn’t seem much of an expenditure now, does it?

Myth # 2: Today’s fast paced, every-minute changing digital world cannot take up a “Process Oriented” QA and Testing Approach without significantly hurting and delaying our timelines

This is the most common comment I have come across during my discussion with various digital media outlets’ CEO’s, CTO’s and even Digital Producers. I believe QA needs to be understood in a different dimension. QA is a ‘process’. A process is never 100% dependent on a day to day change of ‘design’ or ‘requirements’. If a client wants to have a specific campaign, it will need some specific outcome – which will be dependent on some key requirements. These requirements will not change – and hence they will be the baseline of any testing/QA related activity. Once you have this set up, any alterations or modifications are less difficult things to handle. Remember! you can always figure out some potential issues by establishing this baseline as QA and development interaction results in brainstorming on various aspects of end product - much earlier in the development cycle than getting to know later when it’s time to launch!

This myth that fast paced jobs with less response time will add on to the development times prevails in all forms of software development –mostly in digital agencies, given their time constraints. However this is far from reality – QA & Testing doesn’t start ‘after’ development is finished. In essence they both run in parallel and this is how it should be. A QA process which is done after development is finished is more like fire-fighting exercise. This can enable you to plug in some holes – but it will only deliver this much in terms of effectiveness. On the other hand a more proactive approach, which is focused on enabling QA teams to feed into development exercise, will result in a much better end product, with far less probability of facing a last minute disaster.

Myth # 3: QA and its related activities are a mere cost burden on the organization

The myth that being small means QA is not important and hence should be done by ‘developers’ – is the greatest source of disasters.  Agencies, big or small, thrive on the quality of work they deliver. This work is compared against potential competitors and how they are effectively delivering work. Consider that you have a launch and it requires testing on various versions of EACH browser, and in EACH browser you want it to be tested for various FLASH versions. How much time is it going to take to setup the environment, and make developers go through the whole application – to find all the bugs? Like any other creative artist; developers, no matter how smart they are, can never find an issue in their own work. This requires a third eye – which will ensure it’s all delivered in a right way.

To wrap up, the digital age and people’s increasing dependence on it requires out of the software and digital media community to constantly move towards excellence; aiming to provide their customers the best web/mobile experience, giving them absolutely no reasons to call quits. The bottom line is; that the hypothetical “Perfect competition” is starting to become a reality, thanks to the Digital world. Once the customer presses the “back” button on their screens, they have a million other options to explore and they might never come back! Rest, everybody knows how to compare the costs and the benefits.

About the Author:

Khurram (@khurram_mir) is co-founder of Kualitatem (www.kualitatem.com) , an award winning company which specializes in providing Testing and QA services to digital media companies. 

He is also passionate about promoting Entrepreneurship and does it through his writings and guest lectures.


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