While a lot of formality and subjectivity has been brought into software testing over the last decade, all of these largely focus on validating and verifying the core software functionality. Content is often not really verified owing to several reasons such as lack of domain knowledge, time and cost it takes to test and most importantly the ROI on such an effort – is it really worth testing the content? Since the ROI herein is not very measurable, content testing continues to be a gray area.
That said, especially in software that is developed for educational and learning domains regardless of the vertical, content becomes core. Take the case of an online medical journal that the doctors are going to use for reference. Content testing is probably the most important in this case, as incorrect, invalid, insufficient content could lead to severe repercussions. Thus, effectiveness of learning software largely depends on the richness of the content.
Now, realistically how is content QA done?
Product companies typically focus their efforts on building the product / platform with the required functionality. They typically have an in-house content team or partner with content experts to create customized content.
- If the content happens to be for a product in common use such as an e-commerce site, social networking application etc. you could look at your core product team itself validate the content to a large extent
- For specialized domains where you have brought in domain experts to build your content – e.g. BFSI, health care, educational content covering specific subjects, you can verify content in several of the following ways:
o Re-engage with the same (subject matter expert) SME team for a round of content checking
o Hire subject experts from the industry / universities on a part time basis
o Hire a testing services company that specializes in your given domain
o Conduct a private / closed beta testing, where you hand pick and select a core team that can give you valuable insights into your content
o Go the route of crowd sourced testing. This is a new trend gaining popularity in the recent years given how the global communities are coming closer together with advancements in information technology. In a recent networking event, I had the opportunity to interact with the chairman of a language learning software company. When asked on how they verify content, he had a couple of these interesting approaches they take.
- Rely on the content created by SMEs. Once you dive deeper into very specific domains, your SMEs tend to be very strong in their areas of expertise. They are almost an authority in the said spaces, so there is a certain level of trust once they have signed off on the created content.
- Crowd sourced testing is the other alternative, where you open the doors for the community to come in and test the content. This often proves very beneficial and the model is also very scalable and cost effective
Thus in essence, content QA is something that is equally important as that of your product QA; it is often a slightly more neglected space either because of the challenges faced (as discussed above) or the trust in your content team. While the trust element is something positive, if you can adopt a strategy to verify your content using some of the approaches outlined above, it will help you ship a more robust product, rich in its content, further increasing your chances of product success.