Web TestingDeveloping a strategy for testing a particular web application can vary widely depending on the purpose, audience, scope, delivery media, functionality and the kinds of technology used to deliver the application functionality.

In presenting the Web testing courses for Rice Consulting Services, I have seen the necessity of explaining that not all web applications are e-commerce applications or simple web sites. There are many variations of Web-based applications that need to be examined to determine your Web testing strategy.

In this article, we will examine typical types of web applications, associated test concerns and some of the strategies that can be developed to test them.

Types of Web Applications

First, let's examine a range of Web-based applications to get a view of the landscape. While there may be others we could add to this list, these comprise the ones I see most often in my testing practice.

Internet Presence

This is a simple web site to provide basic information. Typically, there may be limited dynamic processing, such as the ability to submit information via forms. However, the primary purpose is to provide information about an organization. This is usually the first step in staking a claim on the Web. The risk level of this type of site is typically low, since content correctness is the primary concern and the easiest to verify.

Primary Test Concerns: Correctness, usability, compatibility
Secondary Test Concerns: Performance, security

Internet e-commerce

This is a web site designed to promote business via the Internet. In it's simplest form, an e-commerce site may point to an 800 number of other ways to receive payments and place orders, but the context of e-commerce normally refers to sites which allow customers to browse products, place orders and obtain product information.

These are the online storefronts that can bring in millions of dollars per day for some companies. The audience is sometimes hard to predict in terms of numbers and traffic patterns, which has a large impact on planning server support and load testing. Since an e-commerce site may be simple or complex, the risks can range from insignificant to extremely high.

Primary Test Concerns: Correctness, security, performance, usability, compatibility, integration
Secondary Test Concerns: Visibility

Intranet

This is a web site used internally in an organization to deliver information and functionality. Unlike the Internet sites, the intranet audience is usually well-defined and predictable. Intranets can be used to deliver functionality such as Enterprise Resource Planning, including HR, inventory, accounting, etc.  The risks of this type of Web application can be very high in the case of ERP applications.

Primary Test Concerns: Correctness, usability, security, integration
Secondary Test Concerns: Performance

Extranet

This is a web site used to communicate with external entities such as customers and suppliers. The audience is well-defined and predictable, but the external nature of the access opens a security risk. Extranets can be used for business-to-business e-commerce. The risks of this type of Web application can be very high in the case of business-to-business applications.

Primary Test Concerns: Correctness, security, usability, compatibility, performance
Secondary Test Concerns: None

Internet media distribution

This is a web site for delivering video and audio over the Internet using technologies such as Real Media and MP3. In this type of site, the correctness of information is less important than the quality of the media delivery. Therefore, performance is a key test concern, as well as the ability to provide quality content on multiple platforms. The risks of this type of Web application can be very high in terms of customer satisfaction and site reputation.

Primary Test Concerns: Performance, usability, compatibility.
Secondary Test Concerns: Correctness

Non-Internet media distribution

This is a web application delivered via CD-ROM that uses web technology to deliver information such as training, catalogs, etc.  These applications typically are more concerned with delivering quality media content as opposed to functional correctness. Functional correctness is normally limited to searches, navigation and information. The audience is a single user as opposed to thousands of concurrent users. Compatibility on multiple browsers is a test concern. The risks of this type of Web application can be very high in terms of company reputation.

Primary Test Concerns: Usability, compatibility, correctness.
Secondary Test Concerns: Performance, security

Non-Internet application

This is an application using browser functionality and delivered via CD-ROM, but not delivered over the Internet. These applications can be very complex, depending on the application. Functional correctness is a major test concern, as well as compatibility on multiple browsers. The risks of this type of Web application can range from low for simple applications to very high in the case of complex applications.

Primary Test Concerns: Correctness, usability, compatibility.
Secondary Test Concerns: Performance

Summary

The starting point for developing a Web testing strategy is to first identify the type of application you will be testing. This will allow you to eliminate the tests that will have little payback and focus on those tests that relate to the high risk factors.

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