Common Themes on

Common Themes on

Throughout the various essays I publish on, I tend to pursue several consistent themes which I feel are critical to any quality assurance process. I’ve mentioned these themes below in order to clarify the directions and slants that my essays follow.

Quality Assurance is a frequently misunderstood concept

Quality assurance is greater than quality control or testing, and I repeat this theme often. Testing describes the use of tests for some purpose. Quality control describes the process of measuring something against a standard of quality, with the result that anything that passes a quality control process is of a required level of quality. Quality assurance describes a process that seeks to improve quality by increasing the standard of quality, the quality of what goes into the production process, and the quality of the components of the production process.

Read more about quality assurance in my essay Web Site Quality Assurance.

Excluding users is a bad thing

Designing and creating a web site requires a seemingly endless parade of choices and decisions, but many decisions involve inhibiting the ability of some users to access and use your site. For example, if you decide to require the use of cookies, then those users who don’t or can’t use cookies cannot use your site.

The important thing to consider is that practically every decision on design will have a negative effect on some users: make a certain color important in your interface, and you’ll present stumbling blocks to those users who can’t handle or perceive that color; make your “buy now” buttons small and “clean”, and you’ll make it harder for people lacking fine motor skill to click the buttons.

I believe that any exclusion of users should result from a conscious decision to exclude certain types of users, because such a move should be based on a qualitative and quantitative understanding of who your audience is and what your site is supposed to do, not on a lack of foresight on the part of your designers or a lack of appropriate testing on the part of your quality assurance team. Surprises — for example, “we never realized that users with JavaScript disabled were unable to complete their purchases” — are worse than acknowledged exclusions.