Building a website is a balance of multiple disciplines. There’s the domain knowledge and direction of our clients. The strategic application of goals and branding from the content and design folks. The manipulation of technology and structure of the development team. All of it is managed by the project management team and led by our leadership team.
A lot of great people. A lot of smart teams, backed by a lot of research and industry knowledge.
And with that, gaps. How do we make sure site design is developed in a way that’s fully accessible? How do we pass our expertise to the editors who will manage the site? With a team of developers working in unison, how do we make sure the pieces fit together perfectly and without issue?
Enter our newest practice manager: Chad Thoreson, QA Practice Manager.
By definition, the purpose of the QA Practice Manager is to develop and lead both QA (quality assurance) and CMS training for every project that walks through the doors. While there are (what seems like) a billion points in which a project is touched at Blend, the goal of the QA Practice Manager is to ensure that it is complete to the level of Blend’s expectations; we employ 20+ people, but this position is the only one with the power to say “we’re ready to launch.”
We look to Chad — a developer by trade with an eye toward accessible content and design — to take his knowledge of Blend’s gaps and apply them to improve our process. More than checking for errors and finding mistakes, Chad provides support for back- and front-end development and design, making sure everything gets a second set of eyes, no matter what stage it’s in.
“QA is more than making sure things aren’t broken. It’s also about managing client expectations, performance budgets, accessibility requirements, best practices, build processes and more.”
Standardizing quality assurance isn’t as easy as it sounds. While we at Blend often see ourselves as experts in our fields, we still are humans, and humans make mistakes. More than that, humans make assumptions, and this is where projects can sometimes run into trouble: assumptions are made by clients, they are made during the content strategy process, and they are made by developers and designers and project managers.
This practice is designed to balance the human nature side of things, minimizing mistakes and assumptions — by which we mean putting a process in place that removes them from the equation — with the freedom and intuition of building something amazing.
It’s not just a product slapped onto a proposal. It’s a service that we provide at the very core of every project. The extra step toward making something as good as it can be before it goes into the hands of our clients. It keeps us honest. It turns an eye inside our process, which in turn affects and improves the sites we make.
Just like the always shifting nature of the web itself, Blend is constantly reworking how we work. We are excited to see how this newest initiative will shape and hone our current and future projects.