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The Varied Facets of Content QA

The Varied Facets of Content QA

In the world of quality assurance, traditionally the focus has been on functional test areas. Of late the non-functional areas of performance, security, accessibility, usability and the like are also growing in importance. However, one area that is silently gaining the prominence it deserves is content quality assurance. What really is content QA and what are some of its facets are what we will talk about in this article, given that this is one area we specialize in at QA InfoTech. While content QA may appear simple, it has a lot of inherent challenges mainly due to data collation from various locations, volumes of content that needs to be processed, and the core issue of lack of solid subject matter experts as and when you need them to verify the content. In this article, we talk about some of the main areas to cover in content QA to build a comprehensive test strategy – not all of these can be done by functional testers, which requires additional planning upfront to ensure non-functional, part-time testers and consultant subject matter experts are available when we need them. In the list below, we talk about varied aspects of content QA in increasing complexity, from implementation and availability of testers’ standpoints.

Content QA from a language and rendering standpoint – While the UI and functionality of an application are two core pieces of what a user sees and establishes an experience with, very soon the content is the third important piece that they get to. Content is what makes an application discoverable in the cyber world. Content has to thus be compelling in conveying the message precisely – the reader is not online to read long stories or textual content in most cases. Testing to ensure the content is precise, grammatically correct, overall in sync with the messaging tone (active vs. passive, past/present/future tense) are all things to check for. Rendering of the content completely without any missing and truncated sections, across devices and platforms is also important to test for. This is thus a bucket which needs a combination of people:

  1. For language testing, people with good language skills, typically English students, copy-writers, proof readers etc. will work
  2. For ensuring complete rendering across devices and platforms, and to test content at an XML level before the content is consumed by the engine, functional testers will be required

Dynamic Content Feeds – Online activities have become ubiquitous today. Whether it is online learning courses, banking, shopping, or at a basic level even browsing. Also the content is hardly anything but static. Feeds are dynamic not even by the day in some cases – where the content changes by the hour, especially for shopping applications. Let’s take Flipkart for example. Given the dynamic and voluminous feeds the application processes, it is humanly impossible and ineffective to test for the updates manually. While sanity checks can be done manually, this process has to be automated. It cannot be left untested as well, as chances and impact of errors are quite high. Functional testers are important in this case to build automation to take up continuous testing in this space

Subject Matter Expertise QA – This is the area that cannot be taken up by regular functional or non-functional testers. One has to be a subject matter expert to verify the accuracy and adequacy of content in conveying the indented meaning. This is especially true for online courses where specific domains are delved into. For example, an online course that teaches math, science, law etc. The tester here need not be testing savvy, but needs to be subject matter expert – typically it makes sense to partner with professors, students, practitioners of the domain to help with these checks. Checks include – accuracy checks, copy editing, assessment material authoring, ALT text authoring – very detailed checks are taken up in each of these buckets to cover nuances such as how well concepts are explained, are the end of chapter assessments correct and in alignment to the course content, is each chapter’s content intuitive enough to learn the content well in the absence of an in person tutor etc.

Contextual Linguistic QA – Culture and Legal – What is acceptable culturally for a France – French market is not what is applicable for the Canadian French market. The marketing campaign hosted by Pepsi in English “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” fell apart in Taiwan as it meant bringing the deceased back to life. If a pure English statement can have varying meanings in different parts of the world based on cultural sensitivities and in market nuances at play, one can imagine the need to test for this, failing which the user acceptance of the product in the local market can be in jeopardy. Beyond just user acceptance, un-tested content can have legal implications too. Whether it be copy-right, privacy issues, use of images etc. – all put together linguistic testers are important to ensure contextual correctness of the content in the application. At QA InfoTech we have a team of linguistic testers, especially for the MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) markets and we recently did a webinar for EuroStar/Test Huddle on this topic. The recording from the session is available here.

In all, whether it is digitization of the content or content QA, it is growing to be an industry of its own. We at QA InfoTech have a content digitization lab (CDL) and have been helping several customers with their content needs along the lines above. We hope this post has given you a good overview of what to cover in your content QA strategy.

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About the Author

Rajini Padmanaban Rajini Padmanaban
As Vice President, Testing Services and Engagements, Rajini Padmanaban leads the engagement management for some of QA InfoTech's largest and most strategic accounts. She has over seventeen years of professional experience, primarily in software quality assurance. Rajini advocates software quality through evangelistic activities including blogging on test trends, technologies and best practices. She is also a regular speaker in conferences run by SQE, QAI STC ,ATA, UNICOM, EuroStar and has orchestrated several webinars. Her writings are featured in TechWell, Sticky Minds, Better Software Magazine. She has co-authored a book on crowdsourced testing . She can be reached at rajini.padmanaban@qainfotech.com