One of the biggest challenges every business faces is keeping up with competitors to allow a new product to emerge and establish itself on the market before a better alternative is out.
Companies always struggle with deadlines — trying to make sure their software is ready before everyone else’s rolls out while being sure of its final quality. Sadly, many organizations end up cutting corners on this front — with often disastrous results.
User acceptance testing, or UAT testing, is a critical stage in quality assurance — the goal of which is to ensure a product satisfies your clients' needs. And, since customer satisfaction is the ultimate metric to determine a product's success, knowing how to do UAT testing right is not just important; it's mandatory.
What is User Acceptance Testing?
More commonly known as “beta testing,” UAT testing is the last stage of a web app or website testing journey. After developers tried to squash all bugs they could find and made sure their tool is as ready as it can be, it’s time to make sure it really fits the purpose for which it was created.
Generally, during UAT, a group of people from a selected demographic try out the product — generally testing it through a series of scenarios that stress-test its capabilities in agency settings. Today, an increasing amount of solutions are commercially available for finding, reporting, and managing bugs during QA, UAT and ongoing post-launch stages.
Large beta tests can include thousands, or even tens of thousands, of people and can go on for years — especially when apps are big enough to require massive testing sessions with demographics all across the world.
Today, even small apps and tools need to run UAT to ensure a product is truly ready. Many companies employ specific tools, such as BugHerd, to spot, collect, and organize bugs in an agency environment so teams can establish a strategy to remove them before the product is launched.
Types of User Acceptance Testing
There are several types of User Acceptance Testing that can be run, depending on your agency's individual needs and the type of software, website or web application you are developing or launching.
Major types of UAT testing include:
- Black Box Testing. In this type of UAT, testers have no knowledge of the software's internal design, code and functionality; they only care for the requirements it should meet.
- White Box Testing. On the opposite spectrum of black box testing, white box testing employs testers with a deep understanding of the system's inner workings — for example, the code base.
- Contract Acceptance Testing. In this type of UAT, companies and testers agree upon a contract which defines the criteria and specifications against which the software is tested.
- Regulation Acceptance Testing. This specific subtype of UAT ensures a software complies with governmental and legal authority regulations.
- Alpha Testing. Alpha testing is generally one of the first rounds of testing through which a software is put — preceding beta testing. At this stage, the product is largely unready, so testers will likely find critical issues with it. Alpha testing usually sources testers from internal teams; however in some cases it employs external testers. (Also read: What is the difference between alpha testing and beta testing?)
- Beta Testing. The most common of all UAT types, beta testing is the standard UAT which ensures the product works as intended.
User Acceptance Testing can take different forms for different software or web applications. Let's look at UAT for website design and development:
An interactive website is a portal through which the end user (i.e., the final customer) is supposed to buy a product, request a service or learn more about an organization. UAT, in this case, would test if users can interact with a website as they are supposed to, ensure they can purchase goods and that the overall experience is great.
UAT tools aimed at tracking bugs on websites and web apps during the UAT stage, such as BugHerd, can save hours of work and improve website experiences.
A more general, but very famous, example of UAT is the Windows operating system, together with various other Microsoft Office tools. Before every new version is distributed to the global market, clients are invited to test it in its beta form for several months. People who test the new edition of Windows can always roll back to their previous version at any moment if they encounter too many difficulties or if they prefer to work on a more stable version.
Why is User Acceptance Testing Important?
UAT is a fundamental stage of a product's life cycle that verifies whether it actually works for the client. Even if the idea behind a product is solid and intriguing, the way it actually takes shape after it is developed can be very different from its original blueprint.
Web development teams may encounter any number of challenges and difficulties during all the stages of development, and the final product may not be the optimal solution that clients really need.
Also, the settings in which the marketing client might operate can be different from those in which the web agency developed the website or app. People use an immense range of different computers, smartphones, laptops and devices, all with their own specifics, hardware and installed software. For example, say a user adds items to a shopping cart on their laptop browser, then tries to check out on their phone, and their items aren't available across all devices. The website or web app may end up looking bad to the client and mar an agency’s reputation.
UAT and UAT tools like BugHerd allow web agencies to find bugs and inconsistencies, like in the shopping cart example, before they have to deal with disgruntled clients. (Also read: Why Do We Need User Acceptance Testing (UAT)?)
UAT Best practices
UAT is a critical step of the product lifecycle. Development teams should never skip it and never bump it down their priority list.
Probably the most effective best practice for UAT is to plan it as early as possible in the project. This will help ensure you select the right demographics and take all the necessary time to set business expectations in the clearest way possible.
Your business expectations must be clear to the people who are going to use your product. This helps make sure your product meets your business objectives and that client experience is not disrupted by unexpected issues or system failures.
Another fundamental step to UAT is setting up a proper communication channel between your dev team and your clients. This helps ensure web devs react to clients' feedback and keep them satisfied and interested in the project. If testers encounter major issues during UAT, developers should generally react to them immediately. However, devs should address all issues — even minor ones — sooner or later, and as promptly as possible.
It can be quite hard to keep track of every single issue encountered during UAT. Because of that, UAT tools like BugHerd are particularly important. BugHerd keeps track of client feedback in real-time, helping development teams react to everything in a timely matter and make sure no bug is left behind.
Here’s a quick list of UAT best practices to keep in mind:
- Create a test plan as soon as you possibly can.
- Set clear and understandable expectations.
- Identify test scenarios and test cases.
- Determine what your audience should be and choose your testers accordingly.
- Establish a proper communication channel between developers and testers.
- Use all the necessary UAT tools to identify, herd and keep track of bugs.
- Record all results and compare them to your business requirements.
UAT is a critical stage in your product development process that should never be underestimated nor rushed.
Tools like BugHerd can make this process easier by aggregating and solving bugs in an organized and diligent manner before a website or web app reaches marketing clients. If you'd like to learn more about BugHerd or request a demo, visit their website.