Quality Assurance (QA) Testing vs User Acceptance Testing (UAT): Key Differences and Goals

Quality Assurance and User Acceptance Testing are both necessary to deliver an app with minimum faults and glitches. Learn about the differences to implement them correctly.

The main difference between User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Quality Assurance Testing (QAT) is simply the time of their execution in the software development life cycle. At least, it was so when the waterfall approach was more prevalent, and the development was flowing linearly, with testing at the very end and UAT at the end of testing.

With the adoption of Agile, though, UAT and QA practices complement each other or go hand in hand with the development of rather small chunks of code. UAT aims to provide an end-user with a chance to assess an app in its final version, while QA is all the testing conducted before this final version is presented for end-user assessment. In brief, QA is more about the verification of the technical requirements of an app, and UAT is about the end-users’ validation of an app.

Let’s learn more about each of them!

Table of contents

What Is User Acceptance Testing (UAT)?

Every app is developed to be used and enjoyed by an end-user, right? To ensure it’s indeed checked up and down, the final word in the testing process must be given to them, or, more often, to testers who know what an end-user wants. That’s why UAT is the last stage of development, when a QA team creates test scenarios and test cases that reflect real-world issues the users are likely to encounter or activities they’ll perform on an app. After their execution, recorded results are reported to a development team, which addresses the defects found during UAT before the final release.

Process and Objectives of UAT

In general, when performing UAT, testers want to make sure that an app:

  • Meets the requirements of the intended users.
  • Conform to the overall business goals and objectives for which it was developed.
  • Handles actual user interactions.
  • Delivers a positive UX and has an intuitive and easy-to-use UI.
  • All the features and functionalities work correctly without major defects or issues.
  • Is ready for release to customers.

Test cases and scenarios that mimic real user interactions can be automated with special testing tools. Also, it’s not necessarily QAs who can perform UAT; Some companies prefer to gather feedback from the first real clients if an app is already released, or even UX designers, who tend to be more aware of the way users interact with an app. Stakeholders and product managers may also be involved in UAT execution with the help of codeless testing apps to ensure that an app aligns with their initial vision.

Benefits of UAT

Money and Time Savings

Bug fixing takes much more time and money when an app is already on the market, not even mentioning how much resources it takes to rebuild clients’ trust. UAT allows us to identify problems before they have a chance to result in lost customers, money, time, and mental resources.

Iterative Improvement

UAT feedback can be valuable for the continuous improvement of an app, as understanding user preferences and pain points allows developers to make informed decisions for future updates.

Satisfaction of Clients

Sometimes, a perfect codes and strict adherence to requirements can result in a dysfunctional app from the users’ perspective. With UAT, you can be sure that an app is checked not only from the developers’ perspective but also validated from the point of view of the client. This will increase their overall satisfaction with your software and, hence, their willingness to keep paying for your services and products.

What is Quality Assurance (QA) Testing?

QAT is a comprehensive process of verifying that software meets the specified quality standards and functions according to the defined requirements. Unlike UAT, its main purpose revolves around the formal correctness of the code, not the individual user’s experience and perception of an app.

Process and Objectives of QAT

It’s true that Quality Assurance and User Acceptance Testing have one common aim: freeing software from all possible bugs. At the same time, QAT has a number of unique objectives. Some of them are:

  • Make sure that the software development process follows industry best practices, coding standards, and quality guidelines. It helps maintain consistency and reliability across the development team.
  • Assess the performance of the software, including response times, load handling capabilities, and resource utilization.
  • Verify that the software works correctly across different operating systems, devices, browsers, and hardware configurations.
  • Confirm that new updates or changes do not adversely affect existing functionalities or introduce new defects.
  • Identify vulnerabilities in the app’s security features to protect it from potential cyber threats and ensure data integrity.

As you can see, QAT includes such practices as security testing, performance testing, cross-browser testing, etc. Some of them are performed manually by testers, while others can be automated and repeated over and over again for every update.

Just as well as UAT, quality assurance testing can be executed by non-tech experts if they leverage no-code tools or feel proficient in coding. But complex software frequently requires the help of professional testers, who, based on their profound knowledge of QA and experience, can opt for the right testing strategy and tools to apply.

Benefits of QAT

Enhanced Security

QAT enables you to thoroughly check an app for weaknesses to prevent possible cyberattacks and protect it from any data leaks. Knowing that their personal information is protected, clients will continue using your app and recommend it to their friends.

Stakeholders’ Confidence

App owners can be sure that no unexpected glitch will occur at any moment, for the code has been tested against all possible cases. Delivering high-quality software, in turn, enhances the brand’s reputation and loyalty among clients, leaving stakeholders certain about the profitability of their app.

Adherence to DevOps

DevOps best practices revolve around the idea of continuous delivery, where writing and testing the code go immediately after each other. Small blocks of code are refined before they join a bigger code base, which allows QA experts to quickly trace a bug and eliminate it. This isn’t possible without Quality Assurance Testing, which encompasses all testing steps for flawless code.

QAT vs UAT

If UAT and QAT serve one purpose of testing an app, then... Can’t the former just be skipped altogether? Well, actually, it can. But you should be aware of all the consequences, which include a high risk of the software’s malfunction and incompatibility with business requirements. If the application proves to be unusable for your clients, then was all the effort and attention truly justified?

UAT is, in fact, the final stage of the QA process, but without it, all the accumulated effort invested before will simply fall away. Both testing types essentially look at an app from two different perspectives; leaving one app’s side in the penumbra is too dangerous in the highly competitive sphere.

The confidence and brand reputation you built upon it, on the other hand, will pay off twice as much as you’ve put in. Instead of compromising the success of your whole business to save a modicum of time and money, don’t rush things, and keep in mind that there are many solutions that enable comprehensive testing at an affordable price. Total testing is impossible; why don’t we try to do our best to test the maximum of the possible?


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