Make, Then Break: The Importance of QA & Testing in App Development

App development is a big undertaking — one that’s made up of many, many smaller processes and projects, such as ideation, design, coding, etc. Each one is essential to the overall health and success of the finished app. But as more and more apps come on the market and competition becomes increasingly fierce, there’s one thing companies can do to deliver a great app rather than a so-so or downright bad one: quality assurance (QA).

At its most basic, QA in app development is intended to prevent malfunctioning code (or, bigger picture: a malfunctioning app) and to make sure an app meets certain requirements. But it’s a long road to a finished application, and an even longer one to a well-designed, user-friendly app. Below are some expectations and long-term benefits of QA and a look at the possibilities crowdsourced QA provides.

Making vs. breaking: where development and testing intersect

QA is also about making sure the app in progress incorporates real user feedback and is free of bugs. In order to achieve those things, you have to allot the time and budget for testing. (According to Forrester Research, a company’s QA budget should be 25% of their development costs — a number most startups don’t come close to hitting.) Ideally, testing is done early and often. Doing so enables developers to catch issues as they arise, ultimately leading to less rework, fewer headaches, and less technical debt you’ll need to pay down the road.

As any developer can attest, finding and fixing broken code isn’t a linear journey; you can (and will) break things as you fix other features and functions. That’s why it helps to have expert testers focused on new features as well as the pre-existing ones — talented people who focus on breaking, so developers can continue to focus on making.

Testers peek behind the curtain to see not only what makes an app tick, but will also try to force it to disappoint or fail altogether at any given point in the user journey. It’s their job to find things that aren’t working as intended or aren’t contributing to the vision of the app. (Some value-adds include suggestions like UI enhancements, new features, and integrations.) That involves creating test cases, executing established test cases, user sentiment analysis, and comparing the app in progress to others currently on the market.

Consider this Great British Baking Show metaphor: the bakers are developers and the judges are testers. Sure, a loaf of sourdough might look great, but how is the rise? How is the flavor? How is the crumb? What was the fatal flaw so that it may be avoided next time around?

The benefits of QA through crowdsourcing

On the one hand, you know that QA is important, but on the other hand… where do you find the right QA talent for your needs? At Topcoder, we have distinct QA offerings that make it easy to access the people and skills you need to speed test cycles and expand QA coverage. With that, you get on-demand access to a the world’s largest network of developers and QA engineers — making it possible to rapidly resolve bugs uncovered during testing. Topcoder offers:

  • Real World Testing. Create test cases, execute established test cases, and get feedback from real users. These testers can come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, giving you wide-ranging results that can’t be realized in a testing lab.
  • Mobility Testing. Execute functional and non-functional tests, compare your app to others on the market, and more. Focus your testing on specific mobile devices to ensure perfect performance on the devices your users prefer.
  • Performance Testing. Test your app under heavy workload, identify actionable items for improvement, and investigate, measure, and validate quality attributes.
  • Salesforce Testing. Get more from a new Salesforce implementation, upgrade, or legacy Salesforce migration with pre-built test assets bundled with tool licenses.

Case study: success with QA in just 48 hours

Recently, a major British financial institution came to Topcoder to fix inconsistent UI and functionality, as well as get round-the-clock testing and unbiased, real user feedback. After onboarding, 100 testers found 80 issues and the client received invaluable improvement suggestions — all in just 48 hours.

Beyond the condensed timeline and access to a large number of testers around the world, crowdsourced QA also provides unlimited testing capacity and diversity. That means flexibility in environment, localization, and language support. And for added support, a Topcoder copilot (a designated project manager) focused entirely on QA is assigned to every project to manage each step of the QA cycle. So you can focus less on bugs and more on a great user experience and a winning app.