QA Testing vs. UAT: What’s the Difference?

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There are over a million results when you ask Google the difference between quality assurance (QA) testing and User Acceptance Testing (UAT). The top search results would confuse you in knowing whether QA ought to come before, after, or within the UAT.

First, let’s reiterate what we know about User Acceptance Testing (UAT).




What is User Acceptance Testing (UAT)?

  • It is the final phase of the design and building of web products.
  • Before your web product goes live, the UAT is where the test team will look out for everything that is wrong and could go wrong.
  • It ensures that the look, feel, and function of your website is checked in reference to the agreed scope of work.
  • It is the phase where the project owners, business units, and even select end-users will see a staging of the web product before it is deployed to the world wide web.
  • The project owner, once satisfied, will sign off before the website is launched.


When Does Quality Assurance (QA) Testing Come In?

Wikipedia defines Quality Assurance (QA) as “a way of preventing mistakes and defects in manufactured products and avoiding problems when delivering solutions or services to customers; which ISO 9000 defines as 'part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled'.”

Sounds a lot like UAT? Yes and no. During the UAT, actual software users test the software to make sure it can handle required tasks in real-world scenarios, according to specifications. QA testing is there to ensure the prevention of problems before the "completed" web product is sent out for User Acceptance Testing (UAT).




Let’s define Quality Assurance (QA) testing as follows:

  • It certifies the quality of the product, that it meets specified requirements in the test plan derived from the agreed scope of work.
  • The QA team is independent from, but supports, the development team.
  • It does not need to test the web product’s usability in relation to consumer experience
  • QA testers are not expected to understand the purpose of the web project nor the business

Sounds like Quality Assurance (QA) testers could be living under its own cave. You might disagree about the expectations and when QA should come in, and you’re not wrong to think that. You might insist that QAT should happen before, after, or during the UAT or the project life cycle, with the consumer in mind because quality is then measured by the opinion of consumers. Doesn’t it?




Quality Assurance (QA) Testing With Consumers In Mind

The proactive involvement of Quality Assurance (QA) testing will depend on the Project Management Methodology adopted by the organization, and this is used is heavily dependent on expectations of the web product that is being built.

Waterfall Vs. Agile Methodologies

Simply put, Waterfall methodology is our traditional plan, design, build, test, and deploy project life cycle series, whereas Agile methodology might have you going through the same process but in a parallel, product-objective manner. Where waterfall brings forth the ‘completed’ web product to client-view at the end of the coding phase, agile brings in the client from day 1, giving them a proactive involvement early on in the game, with the product and consumers in mind.


agile vs waterfall testing


Quality Assurance (QA) testing can differ across organisations because not all companies stick it out, and select just one method. These two methodologies can be combined depending on the various factors and the objective of the web products. In Agile, QA testing and UAT are interdependent on each other instead of them being done in a series.

Which of the two project management methodologies does your organization practice? How does QA testing and UAT work for you? Feel free to share your thoughts via the comment box below.


This is the fifth piece from our User Acceptance Testing Series, where we talk about the pivotal role of UAT and its importance in developing your web products. Subscribe to our newsletter below to keep updated on future articles coming out.

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