Quality assurance isn’t just the responsibility of those with “QA" or “tester” in their job title—we’re all in it together. We build in QA from the start, woven into each stage of the software development lifecycle. We research diligently, plan strategically, design intelligently, build thoughtfully, test madly, and deploy confidently.
The human factor
While we prefer automated testing when possible, you can’t—and shouldn’t—automate everything. There are some things that are prohibitively time-consuming to automate; for example, the treatment of images. Checking that the visual design is perfectly executed requires the judgment of a seasoned professional. And while there are tools to help with testing usability and accessibility, there's no substitute for putting the product in front of actual users. Regardless of the testing approach, there should always be a process in place which includes a test plan and evidence-based reporting.
What to automate?
Test planning is an exercise in pragmatism. There’s no point starting off with your standard cross-browser testing toolkit if you’re building an intranet portal for a bank that insists its employees use Internet Explorer from three major versions ago. Conversely, if you’re building any kind of web portal, you’ll almost always be automating your browser tests, and you will definitely be ensuring it’s accessible. Test hard, but test smart as well.