Web sites impress some entirely new challenges in the world of software quality! a Web application can have many thousands more users than a conventional, non-Web application. The immediacy of the web creates urgent potential of quality and rapid application delivery, but the technical complexities of a web site and variances in the browser make testing and quality control that much more difficult, and in some ways, more delicate, than "conservative" client/server or application testing. Automated testing of web sites is an opportunity and a challenge.
Defining website quality & consistency
Like any complex piece of software there is no single, all inclusive quality measure that fully characterizes a web site (a web browser enabled application).
- Scope of Quality. There are many proportions of quality; each measure will pertain to a particular web site in varying degrees. Here are some common measures:
- Timeliness: web sites change often and rapidly. How much has a web site changed since the last upgrade? How do you highlight the parts that have changed?
- Structural Quality: How well do all of the parts of the web site hold together? Are all links inside and outside the web site working? Do all of the images work? Are there parts of the web site that are not connected?
- Content: Does the content of critical pages match what is supposed to be there? Do key phrases exist continually in highly-changeable pages? Do critical pages maintain quality content from version to version? What about dynamically generated HTML (DHTML) pages?
- Accuracy and Consistency: Are today's copies of the pages downloaded the same as yesterdays? Close enough? Is the data presented to the user accurate enough? How do you know?
- Response Time and Latency: Does the web site server respond to a browser request within certain performance parameters? In an e-commerce context, how is the end-to-end response time after a SUBMIT? Are there parts of a site that are so slow the user discontinues working?
- Performance: How does the performance vary by time of day, by load and usage? Is performance adequate for e-commerce applications? Taking 10 minutes -- or maybe even only 1 minute -- to respond to an e-commerce purchase may be unacceptable!
Impact of Quality: Quality assurance remains in the mind of the Website user. A poor quality Website, one with many broken pages and faulty images, with Cgi-Bin error messages, etc., may cost a lot in poor customer relations, lost corporate image, and even in lost sales revenue. Very complex, incompetent Websites can sometimes excess the user.
The combination of web site complexity and low quality is potentially dangerous to company goals. Unhappy users will quickly depart for a different site; and, they probably won't leave with a good impression.