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QA Tester: who is he and what he does

15 Jun, 2021 Development
QA Tester: who is he and what he does

If a year ago someone would have told me that I was going to be a QA Tester, I would have thought it was a joke. Instead 20tab has decided to focus on a person without computer studies behind him for this role: a "simple" user, able to validate applications without preconceptions and in the most natural way possible.

In this article I will describe the figure of QA (Quality Assurance), still little known but no less important than others.

Attention to details

To be a QA Tester it is necessary to have special attention to quality, not only in the IT field but more generally in everyday life. 

When we find an incompetent person at any desk, we are faced with a poor quality service, which results in the wasting of our time and puts us in a bad mood. Again, a post full of typos, a band with a singer out of tune and lousy musicians, a cocktail made with cheap booze – these are all examples of poor quality, despite the different fields. How often, then, we complain because things around us do not work as they should, or we are annoyed because of those who are unable to observe simple and common rules of coexistence. We are so used to living in a world where things do not work that we often take for granted the fact that this is the norm and we forget how following some basic rules or simply having something that works perfectly can actually make our life easier. 

A QA Tester must certainly have a strong aesthetic taste, a bit of a nitpicker I would say, with an eye for beauty and functionality, but above all be able to follow rules and have an obsessive attention to detail.

Specifically, a QA Tester is entrusted with a product before it goes into production: software, a website, a web page, an app, and all this needs to be tested. But let’s find out what it means.

Gherkin: QA Tester’s sacred text

First, let’s take a step back. 

A QA Tester does not test things randomly but has certain guidelines to follow, dictated by the Product Owner, namely the one who has a 360-degree view of the project, and the UX Designer.

In fact, in 20tab we follow this procedure, adhering to high standards. The PO describes the product’s behavior in the various scenarios using the Gherkin, a language that can be understood even by those without a technical background. Each scenario contains the description of a single function and follows a precise pattern: given a context (given), an event (when) produces a result (then). In simple terms, in a given context, if I do this I will obtain this. 

Therefore, Gherkin for us Testers is a sort of sacred book: what is written inside it is the law and our task is to track down every anomaly, error, bug and glitch that does not correspond to the official version, reflecting what was agreed with the client in the first place. 

However, several fundamental steps separate the PO from the QA Tester, as no product generates with the power of thought. Before a function is finally "ready for test", Product Owner, Visual Designer and Backend/Frontend Developers will team up to achieve the goal. 

Simulating the user experience

Once in the testing phase, the task of a QA Tester is to offer an external view, reporting any type of anomaly and opening bug reports where the expectations are not met. 

So, a non-technical eye able to simulate the user experience; it is therefore not necessary to know programming languages, but on the contrary, it is desirable that whoever plays this role is a regular web-surfer and that, as already said, detailed-oriented. 

Not everyone uses the same devices, so it is essential to conduct tests on multiple operating systems, on multiple browsers, on monitors with different resolutions, and obviously from smartphones as well. There are so many variables that the onset of various types of anomalies is quite common in the development phase, and this is where the role of the QA Tester really kicks in.

Reporting a bug

Testing a product also means thinking outside the box, trying to perform actions that may seem unusual, which could generate errors of malfunctioning: for example, entering an email in an incorrect format, entering a text in a numeric field, trying somehow to “stress” the system we are going to test, as well as the correct actions desired by the end-user, as obviously expected. 

After a careful analysis phase, what is expected from a QA Tester is a report that indicates any bugs or enhancement suggestions, trying to frame where a certain error occurs, in which environment, documenting the issue that needs to be solved, in an accurate and detailed manner. These types of reports represent the most important and valuable phase of the analysis, comparable to a real trial test

At this point, the ball returns to the PO and the developers, who assess the extent of the problem - especially if we are dealing with a pretty much blocking anomaly for the user - and try to solve it in the best possible way. At the end of this review, the QA Tester usually makes a last lap on the platform to confirm the correct functionality of the product under test. 

In the end, the QA Tester is a bloodhound, an investigator, an explorer.

He is a support for developers, who will work more safely, and a guarantee for the customer, who will obtain a high-quality and functioning product, able to satisfy the most important judge: the end-user.

Davide Straccione

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