Why quality assurance matters in web design.

Craig Greenup 06/01/23, 09:00

Quality assurance ensures that web design meets specific standards, best practices, and agreed requirements. It is a critical part of web design that must be factored into the timings. When quality assurance is not prioritised throughout the entire website development process, costly errors can occur that negatively impact website performance and quality.

Requirements gathering

Every new website should start with a requirements gathering exercise. The business sets out what they want to achieve from the website, the functions, the target audience, website integrations, the tools needed, hosting requirements and more. Requirements gathering can also include optional requirements that can be added later. At this point, it is the quality assurance (QA) specialist job to review the requirements and add any additional best practice elements into the specification. The quality assurance specialist may also push back on the requirements if they negatively impact the user experience or website speed. There might need to be several discussions between the QA and client before the agreed-upon requirements are finalised.

For example, if the client specifies they want a website with top-level navigation that contains 15 items, QA should reject this proposal since it will negatively affect the user experience. Other more common pushbacks could include the number of website images or the website font.

Design stage

Next, the website will go into the initial design phase. The designer will come up with rough ideas to help the client visualise the website. The designs are in no way finalised. They are in place to give the client an idea of what could be achieved with the set budget.

During the website design phase, discussions can take several weeks to progress to the point where each element is approved. After several amends and changes, the design can often look considerably different from the original design. After each amendment, the QA needs to reassess the website design and ensure that it still meets the set requirements and any best practice guidelines. Quality assurance is vital at this stage; ironing out any issues at the design stage will prevent more costly fixes during website development.

Quality assurance assesses every part of the website design to help save time, improve efficiency, and ensure the website performs well and is user-friendly. The QA specialist will consider design consistency, accessibility, navigation structure and usability, visual hierarchy, simplicity and much more. If a website design is not assessed for the design quality and how well it meets the requirements at every stage, issues could occur during development.

For example, approved designs may need to be tweaked if developers deem them too graphically heavy, impacting the site loading speed; this would take the website back into the design phase, costing additional time and resources.

The quality assurance process is critical during the entire website design and development process. QA specialists identify any issues and raise them immediately to minimise costs and ensure the website is well designed, meets the requirements, performs well and follows best practice guidelines.