QA Blog Posts

QA Image Library

Check out the growing QA Image Library. This is my personal colleciton of Slack Images for that perfect QA Moment.

September 21, 2021

QA Fail: Storrowing

Storrowing is the term that locals use to describe a truck being on Storrow Drive and hitting a bridge.

The term "Storrowing" was first mentioned in the Boston Globe in an article in August 2016.

There are plenty of warning signs and low-clearance bars before the bridges - letting truckers know that they should not be on that stretch of road.

When trucks are stalled under a bridge they cause serious traffic nightmares. Massachusetts State Police has to come out to check the situation and help cleanup the road and get the truck out of the way.

Storrow Drive2021

Situation is Getting Worst

In August 2021, 34 trucks were caught on Storrow Drive - with many of the trucks being damage due to the low clearance.

In past years:

  • 2019 - there was only one truck
  • 2017 - there were 4 trucks
  • 2016 - there were no trucks.

Note: A "storrowing" year is from August 1st to July 31st of the following year. So this year is from August 1st, 2021 to July 31, 2022.

5 Reasons QA Fails the Clearance Signs

Storrowing happens just about every year. The locals know that it peaks in August/September when college students move into their apartments.

Local Uhaul rental establishments have signs at the register warning people not to drive ib Storrow Drive or Memorial Drive. This is due to the low bridges.

In Boston, failing to follow the "Danger Low Clearance" signs is a $150 offense - plus the expense of moving the truck off of Storrow Drive.

Clearly the signs, warnings, and fines are not catching the attention of truck drivers. Both residential and commercial trucks try to go down Storrow Drive.

The situation is such a local taboo, that Trillium Beer has a special IPA brew called Storrowed.

Truck Caught Storrow
Massachusetts State Police catches a truck trying to get on Storrow Drive.

Any Solution?

Time for a Change Up - I would suggest changing up the signs/warnings. Clearly they are getting ignored.

Dummy Bridge - The low-clearance bar isn't working. Perhaps a dummy bridge should be placed near the on-ramps so that truckers are more aware of the situation. Allow them to turn off the road instead of creating a situation where they have no choice but to try to pass underneath the bridge.

Learn from people trying - Talk to drivers on why they didn't see the signs and what type of sign would have them think twice before going down the road.

In vehicle Radio Warning Signal - In Uhaul trucks have some in-cabin warning system that the truck is approaching a bridge with low clearance. This would work similar to how the E-ZPass system works.

September 14, 2021

QA Fail: Poland Spring Bottle Return

In New England, if you drinking bottled water, chances are your drinking Poland Spring. We use the 5-gallon hard plastic bottles at home. These are a great way to drink delicious Poland Spring water and not harm the environment.

While we do have Poland Spring deliver bottles to our house, every once in a while, I have to get a new bottle because we drink more water than planned.

Our local Stop and Shop has Poland Springs water, and if you bring an empty container, you get a discount on the water. Simply put the old empty container in a bin and take the ticket to buy a new bottle.

Poland Spring Return

QA Fail

The problem with this process is that the return bin doesn't always dispense a ticket. After putting the bottle in the bin, I have to go to the Stop & Shop Service Desk and ask for a ticket.

The service desk is usually busy - people buying lottery tickets or they are busy handling returns and complaints.

Stop & Shop doesn't check to see if I actually return a bottle, they just take my word. I wouldn't lie, but anyone can say they returned a bottle to save about $5 on a container.

The machine has been broken at several Stop & Shop stores for at least a year. It's not a particular problem with the nearby store.

Practical Solution

These machines are maintained by Poland Spring, they should fix them up to encourage people to return the bottles.

Stop & Shop should put up a sign in the Bottle Return area and have people return them to the front desk.

One Side Note

When people are buying bottles there's nothing to encourage them to return the bottle back. There's no sign at the point of purchase or on the bottles themselves.

September 7, 2021

QA Fail: Product Listing on Amazon

This week is yet another fail by Amazon.com - at least by a merchant and not a specific issue with the company Amazon. (See the "Amazon Deals" fail)

Video Camera

This week fail is by Kimire Store. They have a video camera with the following title: "Video Camera Camcorder kimire Digital Camera Recorder Full HD 1080P 15FPS 24MP 3.0 Inch 270 Degree Rotation LCD 16X Digital Zoom Camcorder Camera with 2 Batteries(Black)"

This is a pretty neat camera with lots of functionality. Its listed for $64.99 - which is an awesome price point.

In the product description is this:

Amazon Camera Fake Photo

Great Photo Quality!

The camera takes amazing pictures! Look at that mountain photo - this is an awesome camera.

QA Fails

That mountain picture is unfortunately a stock photo. You can find it on Shutter Stock:

Amazon Shutter Stock

How can you trust this listing when they use a stock photo for the description? Is the video quality really bad that you can't find a decent place to take a photo with the camera?

The listing is full of questionable wording that indicates that its a really bad translation. Here's an example:

The camcorder come with two NP-FV5 batteries. It allows you to keep recording around 60 to 90 minutes when it's fully charged. For the first time use need to charge more than 8 hours. The camcorder support the recording while charging, good to record long videos anytime.

August 31, 2021

August QA Memes

Here are some more QA Memes added to my QA Graphic Library

TrumpBestDay
Trump - "Best Day Ever"

CodeFreezeComing2021
Code Freeze is Coming

LittleScienceChickenSoup
QA Quote

PoorPlanningOnYourPart
"Poor Planning on Your Part..."

August 24, 2021

QA Fail: Citizen's Bank Card Replacement

If you live in New England, you probably have seen the Citizens Bank 'Ding' commercial several times. They are promoting the use of the Citizens Bank card for all type of transactions.

In case you missed it, here's the commercial:

Lost Card? You got a Problem!

What happens if you lose your card, or your card gets involved in a Credit Card Data Breach?

Your screwed.

Citizens Bank will replace your card with a new number - but it will take 3 to 5 business for the new card to arrive. Yup, you'll be without the use of a Debit Card for at least 3 to 5 days. Good thing they are promoting using it for everyday purchases.

So much for paying for that Pumpkin Spice Latte with the Ding...

Citizen Bank Branch

QA Fails: Citizen's Bank Card Replacement

Five Reasons QA Fails the Citizen's Bank Card Replacement Process:

  • It's 2021, there's no reason why it should take 3 to 5 business days to get a new card.
  • Credit Card Data breaches are happening all the time. So regardless of how careful you are with your credit card number - the number could get stolen because of a merchant's bad security.
  • Why would you encourage people to use it for everyday purchases but not have a system in place to get new cards out quicker?
  • Many translations require a credit card for purchases - such as parking garages. Cash won't help you if you need to park at the Prudential Center Parking garage.
  • I know that many people carry multiple credit cards, so not having a single card isn't a big deal. However, many people are trying to get out of credit card debt.
August 17, 2021

QA Fail: Boston.com Headline graphic

This week's fail is the headline image for a story on Boston.com:

Boston Headline Graphic Fail

Three Reasons this fails QA

  1. This is Boston.com why would you use a screenshot of a map?
  2. Don't you have a personal library of stock photos of the Back Bay? For breaking news like this? Such as street signs or landscape views.
  3. If you don't have a valid stock photo, perhaps using a "Breaking News" would be better than a screenshot of a map. (Make a note of the missing stock photo so one can be taken at a later date.)
August 10, 2021

QA Fail: U-Haul Car Trailer

If you're moving long distances, chances are you'll be using a U-Haul for self-move. If you bring a car with you, having it in tow is a great way to transport it.

The only problem is that if you own a Toyota Camry, you can't open the car door when you drive up the ramp. This is because the U-Haul wheel rims guards prevent users from opening the door.

U Haul Car Tow

Why QA Fails This Implementation

This looks to be a problem with any sedan - not sure how their QA passed this implementation.

The Toyota Camry is one of the popular cars in America. It should have been part of the U-Haul trailer test.

The only way we were able to get around this is to open up the passenger door and go out of the car. The reason we didn't just use the front window is that you needed to close the window after getting out of the car. You can't properly close the window from the outside.

Simple solution would be to have the wheel rims be removable when loading and unloading the car trailer.

August 3, 2021

QA Fail: Mass Pike Sign

August QA Blog Content

Throughout the month of August, I'll showcase some real life QA fails. These are signs/things that certainly would have failed QA.

If you have driven down the Massachusetts Turnpike, chances are you might have seen this sign:

Mass Pike Transponder Mobile

Photo Credit: This is a screenshot from Google Maps.

Mass Pike Transponder Desktop

Photo Credit: This is a screenshot from Google Maps.

This sign appear multiple times on the Massachusetts Turnpike. They usually appear right after the electronic tolls area.

Four Reasons This Fails QA

Who is this sign for' Here are the four reasons that QA would fail this sign:

  1. The sign is way too small to comprehend while driving 55+ mph.
  2. Who would have time to write down the phone number.
  3. Who's going to write down the URL? Let alone remember the URL for later.
  4. Most vehicles on the MassPike don't have passengers - which means you can't take a picture of the sign. In Massachusetts, its illegal to hold the phone while driving.
July 27, 2021

QA Graphics

Here's some QA graphics that I found in various QA channels. Check out the QA Image Library for a huge selection of Quality Assurance graphics.

This month I focused more on quality graphics. I didn't want to throw up images just to have a blog post. In QA, it's about quality not quanity.

  • Testing in Production
  • Quality Testing Logo
  • Wahoo Time for Testing
  • (FireFly Design) - Don't Let the Bugs to Escape.

Testing In Production 2021
What Testing in Production Looks like.

Quality Testing 2021 logo
Quality Testing (Logo?)

Woo Hoo Testing Time
WooHoo Time For Testing

Dont Bugs Escape
Don't Let the Bugs Escape!

July 20, 2021

How to create great CTAs using A/B testing

A vector image that illustrates A/B testing.

If you've delved into Landing Page Optimization (LPO), chances are you've pondered over your Call to Action (CTA) buttons. Even if you haven't, you've likely given them their due time. CTAs are your literal calls to action, and thus serve as your final conversion step. That's what all your marketing, social media, and link-building efforts aim to push audiences to do. Where great CTAs can do them justice, underperforming CTAs can severely devalue your efforts. So, how can you fine-tune them for better conversion rates? Simply, by testing their relevant attributes one by one. In other words, you may create great CTAs using A/B testing ' and here is how.

What are CTAs?

But before we explore the main subject, let us briefly define those two terms, starting with CTAs.

In brief, CTAs are buttons on landing pages that encourage visitors to take the desired action. Examples may include:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Downloading a free copy of a report
  • Purchasing a product or service

Conversions and conversion rates

In turn, effective CTAS are invaluable to have a greater number of conversions on your landing pages. As CTAs are direct calls to action, they are at the forefront of LPO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Put differently, they are the final arbiter of whether a visitor converts or leaves.

That said, there are different types of conversions, and each calls for a different approach to CTAs. Specifically, Google Analytics identifies two distinct conversion types:

  1. Micro conversions. These are conversions that push the visitor further into your sales funnel, such as newsletter signups.
  2. Macro conversions. Instead, these are completed transactions.

Then, it identifies four distinct conversion groups:

  1. Acquisition.
  2. Inquiry.
  3. Engagement.
  4. Revenue.

Among the four, only 'revenue' refers to macro conversions. The other three are likely earlier in your sales funnel, so they will require different CTA styles and copy.

What is A/B testing?

Now, to create great CTAs using A/B testing, we'll also need to define A/B testing equally briefly. A/B testing, as the name implies, is the process of testing two variations of a page against each other. Typically, the process relies on modifying a single page element, and then directing traffic to both the original (A) and the modified version (B).

Understandably, A/B testing can't succeed on a hunch. Instead, it typically requires such assets as CRM software and heat maps to inform which elements are modified and how.

Finally, A/B testing is one of 3 types of page testing:

  • A/B testing
  • Split testing
  • Multivariate testing

Granted, 'A/B testing' and 'split testing' see interchangeable use, but many do distinguish the two.

How to create great CTAs using A/B testing

With the above in mind, we may now discuss our main subject. To do so, we'll need to split it in two; the process itself, and the CTA modifications.

The A/B testing process

First and foremost, the process itself is crucial. Indiscriminately testing CTA elements, or testing many elements at once, will very rarely yield reliable results. Instead, you may take a more calculated, focused approach.

#1 Decide on your elements

Initially, you should decide which specific elements you will test. CTA elements to consider are:

  • Color
  • Font
  • Copy
  • Style
  • Placement
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Timers

With this many factors, you should understandably begin with a data-driven hypothesis. Thus, you may use CRM, heat maps, and any other analytics tools at your disposal to inform your choice.

#2 Create multiple variants

Then, you may test your hypotheses in action. To do so, you will need to create multiple 'B' variations and test them individually against your 'A'. Luckily, the digital age offers heat maps, so you may consider the following metrics they can provide:

  • How many visitors see your CTAs? Scroll maps will reveal how many visitors scroll to your CTAs.
  • How many visitors identify your CTAs and react to them? Move maps will provide these insights.
  • Do enough visitors click on your CTAs? Click and touch maps will reveal how many clicks and taps your CTAs get.

#3 Monitor your results

Finally, you should take the time to properly analyze your tests' findings. As you do, ensure you build the framework for more, and more conclusive tests. For this step, consider the following:

  • Ensure you have a decent sample size to draw conclusions from.
  • Let your tests run for long enough to ensure accuracy.
  • Identify which specific elements led to success or failure each time, and use them for further tests.

The CTAs

The process aside, creating great CTAs using A/B testing also hinges on CTAs themselves. While exact modifications should absolutely rely on your own analytics and tests, there are a few set practices to consider. In no particular order, these are the following.

#1 Refine your copy to encourage action

The very purpose of a CTA is to inspire action, so your copy must reflect this. Thus, lead with imperative verbs; 'sign up', 'get this', and 'click here' are CTA staples for a reason.

At the same time, visitors must know exactly what they're getting out of it. To do so, make your proposal clear; frame your CTA with clear information so that visitors know what you're offering.

#2 Keep it simple

However, clarity comes from simplicity; long CTAs are often visually unappealing. Thus, you should strive for copy simplicity:

  • Keep it between 2 to 5 words
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use adjacent page space for more information

Of course, simplicity is also relative to what your unique audience expects. Average audiences might dislike jargon, for example, but invested, savvy audiences might appreciate it in moderation.

#3 Keep your CTA visible and above the fold

On the subject of placement, CTA visibility is among the most common missteps. Here, consider such factors as the following:

  • Ensure your chosen font is highly readable
  • Use a contrasting CTA color in relation to the page
  • Place your CTA above the fold to ensure visibility
  • Avoid visual clutter around the CTA
  • Limit each page to one CTA to avoid decision fatigue

#4 Add a countdown timer to incite agency

Having ensured simplicity, clarity, and visibility, you may then consider countdown timers to incite urgency. The role of your CTAs is to inspire action, after all, and few things do so as successfully as urgency.

For reference, consider that Sleeknote found that popups with countdown timers outperformed ones without timers by 113%. In principle, the same applies to CTAs ' which should explain the common 'sign up now', 'hurry!', and similar copy choices.

#5 Make it stylish' where appropriate

Finally, you may attempt to spice up your CTAs. Most notably, you may employ humor; for example, OptinMonster's exit-intent popup cries 'that's abandonment!' as you leave. HootSuite's exclaims, 'well, this is awkward', before continuing that they 'could've SWORN you were someone' interested in their services.

These are evidently very effective, as their audiences find them charming. However, this kind of humor is in line with their branding, and resonates with their audiences. Yours may both differ, so when trying to create great CTAs using A/B testing, make sure to do your due research.