Top Software Quality Characteristics: What Makes a Good Software Application?
Software quality characteristics are key determinants for building a functional software product. For an application to meet minimum performance criteria and prove viable, it must thus exhibit each of the essential quality characteristics.
In recent times, software quality has become a lever for enterprises to stay ahead of the curve. It is not just restricted to performance but has larger implications and reflects the business’s brand identity and helps build positive user experiences.
A good software application is defined by a set of software quality standards and when an application depicts these characteristics, it scripts a success story for the enterprise. To infuse them into your product, QA in software development plays a vital role. Finally, the journey to germinating seeds of software quality begins when the application is in its concept phase.
Using our experience and expertise, here in this article, we will offer you a holistic idea of various software quality characteristics. You would be able to gather why your software application must always be characterized by each of these attributes. But before that let’s take a snapshot of software quality and software quality characteristics.
What is Software Quality
An abstract concept, software quality explains if the product incorporates a standard set of features that assure performance consistency throughout the product’s lifecycle. It measures the effectiveness of software applications and determines if they align with the specified functional requirements, and so is described as the ‘fitness of purpose’ of a software application.
What are Software Quality Characteristics?
Each stakeholder in the software development process, be it software agency and it’s team or project owners, expects the software application to be characterized by different attributes, which are termed software quality characteristics. From a stakeholder viewpoint, some sample considerations include:
- User perspective: Is the application capable of fulfilling the task?
- Operational perspective: Does the application support optimal resource utilization?
- Developer perspective: Can the application function across multiple platforms?
What are the main software quality characteristics?
Here we decompose software quality into individual characteristics, and further into sub-characteristics.
These characteristics of software quality pertain to the functioning of software applications. Multiple operational characteristics of software quality include:
It is defined as the software application’s capability to provide all targeted functions under specific conditions. The functional effectiveness of the product can be judged based on:
- Suitability: Functional suitability refers to how aptly a software application addresses the problem for which it has been developed. It is determined by two important factors – completeness and appropriateness. The former implies that the system is capable of performing all tasks, while the latter refers to the degree to which the features can accomplish the tasks.
- Accuracy: It is the degree of perfection with which a software application delivers correct results, as per the agreement between parties. Accuracy is determined by the degree of precision with which the software application functions. Software code and architecture are two important elements that directly affect accuracy.
- Integrity: It refers to the quality of the source of the software and makes the code and in turn the application fool-proof by preventing unauthorized access. Integrity gets associated with each element of the product, and so each integrity parameter – data integrity, process integrity, code integrity – needs to conform to the integrity requirements.
Usability is defined by the efficiency of the application to support its use. A measure of good usability is that software applications are user-friendly and allow seamless use by non-technical users. The following factors characterize the usability attribute of software quality.
- Understandability: It defines how easily a user can understand the process to use the software. It is essential for users to be familiar with the mechanism to leverage a specific feature of the software, and understandability decides this efficiency.
- Learnability: Learnability is the capability of the software application to enable users to learn its use. A strong mark of learnability is that the product can be learned fast and easily. The number of iterations that a user takes to become proficient in the product’s use decides the efficiency of learnability.
- Operability: This attribute determines the extent to which users can operate and control a software application. A well-operatable software application allows users to quickly leverage its functionalities to perform actions. Operability is a cornerstone characteristic as even after learning to use the software, users must be able to exploit its capabilities with ease.
It is the capability of a software application to deliver expected performance with optimal resources. Efficiency elevates system performance and improves user experience. Quality assurance in software development is important to make the product efficient. This attribute comprises:
- Time Utilization: The amount of time a software application uses to deliver desired results gives an idea about its efficiency. Time efficiency is defined by response and processing times which ultimately affect the throughput rates. It must be analyzed at an architectural level against each component’s functionality.
- Resource Utilization: It defines the capability of software to use resources while executing the functionalities. Directly and indirectly, a software application consumes multiple resources during its operations. So, apart from consuming processing memory and storage, electricity is an equally important resource the utilization of which indicates the application’s efficiency.
It’s a measure of the system’s capability to assure a high level of performance under specified conditions for a specified time duration. Mean time to failure (MTTF) and the system’s expected life are two important software reliability metrics. It is characterized by the following dimensions.
- Maturity: The performance of the application isn’t affected by possible failures during the course of its life cycle is what maturity assures.
- Fault Tolerance: The application is able to maintain its performance when a fault occurs so that the support activities are not stalled.
- Recoverability: Can the system recover the lost data, and restore itself to the stage where it was when its features failed? Recoverability is a software quality characteristic that answers these questions.
It measures the degree of the presence or absence of a certain attribute in a software application and indicates how much the application is consistent with the defined specification. Verification is ascertained by subjecting the application to a variety of tests. Quality assurance in software development is thus important and you must have a robust quality control plan for software development to ensure that the application passes verifiability tests.
A software system is linked to multiple elements, including data, code, hardware, and OS. While protecting its environment, a secured software application assures that internal and external features are protected from malicious attacks
Software quality framework is no more restricted to traditional quality parameters. A software application must be safe for its users as well as shouldn’t be hazardous to the environment. While software systems may never directly affect the environment, they may take a toll on it through energy consumption.
These are the characteristics that deal with the adaptive or evolutionary character of software systems. We dig into them here, while also going into the sub-characteristics below.
Any software application must be capable of getting enhanced with new capabilities. It must be able to undergo evolution to adapt to changing requirements without affecting the user experience. Users should have assurance that they are getting good support through its features. The following parameters define maintainability.
- Analysability: In the event of the occurrence of failures or detection of deficiencies, the software system supports a diagnosis.
- Modifiability: Whenever a feature of the application becomes obsolete, it can be modified and a new feature can be implemented, without causing bugs and diluting the system’s quality.
- Stability: The performance of the system doesn’t fall even after modifications are performed to its features or new features are introduced.
It is always important to understand the degree to which a software system can cope with the needs of users in different environments. So, a versatile application comes with a range of features surrounding the application’s ability from working in a cross-environment setup to supporting its extension. We understand versatility through the following parameters.
- Extensibility: Ability of the software system to support getting equipped with a new feature and executing new functions.
- Flexibility: Bringing new changes to the product must be an easy process, and should be performable in a stipulated time with minimal cost.
- Scalability: This aspect allows the software system to accommodate new changes to its features and capabilities while ensuring that there always remains room for further improvements.
It allows software applications to exist as a collection of individual units or modules, each of which performs some specific function and are independent of the other. Combined, these modules combined form the entire product. Whenever a system encounters any failure, only affected modules have to be analyzed, tested, or modified.
While undergoing a series of standard testing procedures – Functional testing, Fault-finding testing, and Structural testing, amongst others – software applications should produce satisfactory performance results. Testing in software development must be carried out exhaustively to confirm that the application functions as per the predefined performance criteria.
A good software application continues to provide its functionalities even during cross-platform movement. This ability of a software system is defined by transitional characteristics which we discuss below.
An application must be capable of easily interacting and exchanging information with external systems. Likewise, different features of the system itself must seamlessly interact with each other for the entire system to function smoothly.
It defines how easily a software application can be transferred across platforms or environments. A portable application is characterized by the following dimensions.
- Adaptability: A system is adaptable to a different environment, where it can execute its functions without any deviations.
- Compatibility: Defines how well an application is compatible with software and hardware. The application has to be backward and forward-compatible which means it must perform each function with its last version and should be able to support interfaces of planned future versions.
- Co-existence: The application’s existence shouldn’t affect the performance of other applications while utilizing common computer resources.
- Replaceability: Software should have the capability to replace another software that was performing similar functions.
It helps in constructing a new system from the existing components. It allows reengineering to build applications with added power. A reusable portion of software codes can be used to build applications to perform different functions.
Compliance is a software quality characteristic that transcends all the software quality attributes. In order to be fully compliant, a software application has to adhere to conventions and standards while supporting each of the above-discussed software quality dimensions.
How do you measure software quality?
Software quality measurement is a continuous process that must begin right from the first stage of software development and be used till the application’s last phase in its lifecycle. Here is a stepwise process to measure software quality.
- Identify the goals of your software development project. Establish the relationship between the product and customer satisfaction and business growth.
- Build a software quality measurement framework that comprises all essential metrics for evaluating software quality. This would include the number of bugs, load speed, time consumption for support activities, test coverage, and security.
- Set up individual courses for measuring metrics as each metric will require a separate evaluation approach.
- Periodically track and monitor metrics to understand and address fluctuations, if any occur, to keep the system stable.
Have a quality-assured application to surpass stakeholder expectations
Quality is a focus area in software development. It regulates the application development process, affects delivery time, governs user experience, alters strategies, and impacts ROI. Since you cannot afford to miss any of the discussed qualities in your product, you need expert hands to build, test, and deploy the application.
With competition mounting and the realization of the importance of software quality, enterprises now know they need to build optimal-quality software applications equipped with innovative features to meet their unique needs. Not software development, but rather high-quality software development is thus the norm.
To build a high-quality software application with deft hands, you can choose to build your in-house team or hire an offshore software development company. Our well-seasoned software development team will help you embrace the ethos of quality standards by building a quality-tested-validated-assured application for your custom needs.
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