11 Software QA Best Practices for Excellent Apps

working on quality assurance process

A great digital product is not just stable — it also wows and hooks users, keeping them engaged and loyal. Quality assurance (QA) is the X-factor that makes this possible. According to estimates, every $1 invested in QA boosts revenue by $6, reduces costs by $16, and increases profits by $3.

In this post, we’ll uncover what quality assurance means and look at some software QA best practices to supercharge your project. We’ll also take you behind the scenes, revealing our proven quality formula here at Cheesecake Labs!

In this article:

What is software quality assurance?

Fundamentally, QA evaluates and tests software code during development to check if it works as intended. But that’s just scratching the surface. Quality assurance in web and mobile development extends far beyond delivering a bug-free script. It also means:

  • Aligning the build with user needs to ensure customer satisfaction
  • Regularly monitoring apps during development to catch issues early on
  • Taking steps to prevent problems before they happen

Software quality management is a complete system of setting and following standards to create reliable software. By following best practices in QA, you can improve your brand’s reputation, build customer trust, streamline workflows, and outpace the competition.

What is the importance of QA in software development?

Investing in software quality practices through the software development cycle not only helps you create a top-notch product but also aligns with your broader business goals.

Here’s why QA is so important.

Release scalable, high-quality software 

Because quality assurance is proactive, it doesn’t just identify bugs — it prevents them in the first place. The result is a reliable, easy-to-use, and efficient product.

Maintain your company’s reputation 

Remember BlackBerry? Once a smartphone market giant, the company ultimately fell from grace due to quality assurance issues. Investing in QA can help you avoid software glitches, security vulnerabilities, and system crashes that can tarnish your market standing.

Simplify maintenance and long-term fixes 

Well-tested software is easier to maintain and update. QA makes it simpler to add features, fix issues, or adapt to new technologies down the line.

Save time and money 

Quality assurance identifies issues early on so you don’t waste resources trying to fix them later. Any bugs that do arise are likely minor and easier to fix during development.

Build a more competitive product 

You need a superior product to stand out in a saturated software market. QA can help you exceed industry standards and give you a competitive advantage.

Create secure and compliant apps 

Security can’t be an afterthought — it has to be integrated into software development from the beginning. QA addresses vulnerabilities to safeguard both your data and your customer’s data.

Improve and maintain customer satisfaction 

Whether you’re building an application for clients or end-users, you need QA to deliver a product that meets user expectations.

Enhance accessibility and usability 

QA reveals usability roadblocks so you can make targeted improvements, such as adding keyboard navigation and screen reader support.

What’s the difference between quality assurance and software testing?

differences between quality assurance software testing

While both quality assurance and software testing aim to deliver a high-quality product, they serve different functions in the development cycle.

Software testing is a specific and targeted activity and serves as a “final check” before the product reaches customers. It aims to:

  • Ensure that the software meets user requirements
  • Verify that the product aligns with its specifications
  • Identify and document any defects for resolution

Note that software testers look for issues but do not have the responsibility to fix them. They simply report these problems.

In contrast, quality assurance is a preemptive and ongoing strategy that enhances and maintains high standards throughout development. It involves:

  • Implementing and continually improving development processes for a high-quality outcome
  • Taking measures to prevent bugs and issues from occurring at any stage of development
  • Monitoring quality at each phase of the software development cycle

So while “software testing” is an essential component, it is only a subset of the broader “quality assurance” strategy. Software testing seeks to identify and report issues in a finished or near-finished product, while QA aims to improve processes and prevent issues from arising in the first place.

What are the types of testing in software engineering?

types software testing

There are four primary levels of testing:

1. Unit testing: Testing individual units or components of an app

This initial stage evaluates specific components or units of the software to check if they work as designed. A unit could be a function, a particular program segment, or even a procedure.

White-box testing techniques are commonly used where testers are given complete knowledge of the software, including access to design documents and source code.

One advantage of unit testing is that it can be done repeatedly whenever your code changes, making it easier to catch issues early on.

2. Integration testing: Testing how different components interact with each other

The second level catches any defects in the connections between different modules or functions. This is important because improper integration hampers the entire program’s functionality (even if individual units work well independently.)

Integration testing can be done in two ways: top-down or bottom-up.

  • In top-down testing, the quality assurance team starts with the highest-level components and works their way down to the lower-level parts, following the architecture or flow of control. If certain components aren’t ready for testing, temporary stand-ins called stubs are used to fill in.
  • Bottom-up testing begins with the lower-level units and progresses upward to the higher-level components. This method is useful when most or all of the lower-level units are already complete.

The best approach for your project depends on various considerations:

  • The software’s overall cost and complexity – A complex software with many interdependent components might benefit from top-down testing to confirm that the overarching architecture is sound. However, this could be more expensive due to the need for stubs for incomplete components.
  • Deadlines – If you’re working on a tight schedule, bottom-up might be faster because you can test components as you complete them without waiting for higher-level components to be ready.
  • Availability of specialized team members – Do you have team members who are experts in specific modules or components? Their availability could dictate the testing approach. For example, if specialists for lower-level units are readily available, a bottom-up approach may be more efficient.
  • Client requirements – Sometimes, clients may have specific requirements or preferences for how testing should be carried out, which could make one approach more suitable than the other.

3. System testing: Testing the app as a whole for the first time

At this level, the software is examined in its entirety to validate if it meets all specified requirements and quality standards. Independent testers who haven’t been involved in the development process perform this test in an environment that closely simulates real-world conditions. 

4. Acceptance testing: Testing to see if the software is ready for release

The final stage assesses if the software fulfills the end user’s needs. This is crucial because requirements can sometimes change or lose clarity during the development process. Once this test is complete and the software passes, it can be released into production.

Acceptance testing is broken down into two major phases:

  • Alpha testing – This initial phase examines the software through the lens of the client’s needs. Done by QA engineers or the development team, Alpha testing uses both white box and black box techniques (testing the software with no knowledge of its internal workings.)
  • Beta testing – In this second phase, actual users use black box techniques to assess the software’s performance and identify any remaining issues.

As you can see, each testing level allows for progressively detailed audits. This is why early QA is crucial for preventing bigger bugs and improving overall quality.

Best QA practices in software development

Whether you’re building a mobile app or an enterprise-level solution, you want a product that works well and delights users. These software QA best practices can help your team achieve your goals:

  1. Set clear requirements

Clarify both software requirements and customer expectations before you start testing. The QA team needs this information to meet quality standards and satisfy customers. It can also help you estimate the resources required for testing.

  1. Establish a well-designed workflow

Create a detailed workflow to enhance communication between the QA team and the client while making tests more efficient. The workflow should include:

  • A test plan that lists software requirements, exit criteria, testing scope, necessary resources, and timelines.
  • Test cases or checklists specifying test conditions, expected results, and inputs.
  • Reporting procedures for test outcomes, discovered bugs, and other relevant information.
  1. Test early and often

Begin testing as soon as a new feature is developed to quickly identify and resolve issues. For example, be sure to test a newly developed login feature immediately before integrating it into the larger system.

  1. Regression test your app

Did you add new features? Re-test the app to confirm that existing functionalities remain unaffected. If you added a currency conversion feature to your financial software, for example, you need to check that it doesn’t disrupt basic transactions. 

  1. Automate testing as needed

While manual tests are useful for tasks requiring human interpretation and judgment, automation effectively handles repetitive tasks. Don’t hesitate to use automation to speed up testing and cover more scenarios.

For example, you can automate test cases that validate data entry fields or use automated scripts to perform load testing. This lets you achieve more comprehensive and reliable results, often with less time and effort. 

  1. Test everything

Don’t ignore edge cases and error conditions. If you have an e-commerce app, it’s not enough to just test the purchase flow for popular items. Be sure to cover less common scenarios. What happens when a user tries to buy an out-of-stock item or applies multiple discount codes at checkout?

  1. Build a feedback loop

Create a communication channel for quickly escalating issues. If a bug appears in the payment gateway, the QA team should have a defined process for notifying the development team.

  1. Keep records 

Keep detailed documentation to track progress and help recreate any problems that arise. Record all test cases where payment transactions fail, for example. This documentation can help developers pinpoint the root cause of issues.

  1. Test performance

Test how the software behaves under different conditions. Try simulating high-traffic scenarios to check if the software maintains its speed and reliability. You can also perform stress tests to identify any weak points. This confirms the software’s reliability in the real world.

  1. Test usability

Recruit beta testers to interact with new features and provide feedback. Focus on elements like navigation ease, instruction clarity, and overall user satisfaction, and then use the feedback collected to make necessary adjustments.

  1. Refine your QA process

Regularly check your QA process for bottlenecks and inefficiencies, then make data-driven adjustments to streamline workflows and reduce errors. Do you notice that certain tests consistently cause delays? Investigate the cause and implement solutions. The goal is to create a more efficient and effective QA process that continually adapts to new challenges and requirements.

QA process in software development: How Cheesecake Labs upholds software quality

Here at Cheesecake Labs, we believe that quality is not just an endgame but a journey that begins from the first line of code. Here’s our approach to maintaining quality standards.

Collaboration at the core

Our QA process is a team effort that involves not just our software engineers but also the product owner. After all, the product owner plays a key role in defining the project’s requirements and acceptable criteria. Their involvement is essential in building a final product that matches what was originally agreed upon.

Automated routines

Every project repository at Cheesecake Labs has automated routines in place to assess static code quality, dependency, and library vulnerabilities.

Peer review routines  

We perform rigorous peer reviews before merging any new code into the main application branch. At least two peers must review and approve the feature merge request, ensuring that multiple sets of eyes have scrutinized the code for quality.

Quality-first engineering 

Our engineers are not just coders — they are quality gatekeepers. They follow best practices in software testing, implement a mix of unit and integration tests, and adhere to predefined coding standards.

Tailored test coverage 

We customize the depth and breadth of our testing protocols based on the unique requirements and goals outlined in our client agreement. This lets us focus on the most critical quality checks for each specific project, making the QA process more targeted and effective.

Our QA process in detail

At Cheesecake Labs, we weave software testing best practices throughout the development lifecycle. Here’s a look at its key components:

  • Acceptance criteria – Every user story or feature has well-defined acceptance criteria to keep the development aligned with client expectations. We collaborate closely with our clients to translate their needs into actionable guidelines, making it clear what the final product should look and behave like.
  • Early and exploratory testing – The sooner we test, the sooner we find issues. We proactively engage in early testing phases and use exploratory techniques to dig out hidden issues that might not be caught in structured tests.
  • Documentation and manuals – We produce detailed documentation to put all stakeholders on the same page. This not only serves as a point of reference for developers, testers, and project managers — it also facilitates easier onboarding for new team members who might join the project.
  • Strategic testing plan – Our testing plan outlines the strategy, scope, required resources, and timeline for all testing activities, serving as a roadmap for all QA activities.
  • Regression testing – We run both automated and manual tests whenever new code appears, preserving the integrity of the existing functionalities.
  • Bug tracking and reporting – Our team systematically identifies and resolves issues through specialized bug tracking and reporting software. We log bugs and monitor their status from discovery to resolution, prioritizing them based on impact and severity.
  • Code testing and review – We rigorously test code and complement it with systematic code reviews. As a result, the software is not only functional but also well-structured and maintainable.
  • Performance testing – We subject the software to rigorous tests that evaluate responsiveness, scalability, and speed. These tests simulate high user loads, limited resources, and other scenarios to assess the system’s performance under different conditions.
  • Security testing – Our team identifies vulnerabilities and tests the software’s resilience against security threats. We use advanced tools and methodologies to simulate various types of attacks.
  • Accessibility testing – We adhere to established accessibility guidelines (including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) to make the software usable for a wider audience, including users with disabilities.
  • Monitoring and logging – We capture valuable metrics and logs through real-time tracking and diagnostic mechanisms. This allows us to capture system behaviors that can be analyzed for trends or anomalies.
  • Automation/CI and CD – We also implement continuous integration and continuous delivery practices (including test automation) to speed up development cycles, minimize human error, and test and integrate new code changes immediately. 

Create the highest quality digital products with Cheesecake Labs

At Cheesecake Labs, our QA delivery process is more than a checklist — it’s a commitment to delivering software that exceeds expectations. By following software QA best practices, we deliver robust, secure, and high-performance solutions that foster confidence among our clients and end-users.

software development with qa proven process

Want to guarantee the best quality for your app? Looking to outsource software quality assurance services? Get in touch with Latin America’s Top Development Company — we can’t wait to chat with you!

About the author.

Natam Oliveira
Natam Oliveira

VP of Engineering at Cheesecake Labs - IA / IoT enthusiast. Go bravely where no one have never gone before!