What Are The Software Quality Attributes

What Are The Software Quality Attributes?

Software Quality is a term used to measure the degree of excellence of software. Software Quality attributes are extremely important while designing a software application. 

There is a misconception that if the software application is bug-free then the quality of the software is high. However, a bug-free product is just one of the Software Quality Attributes. The quality of the software also depends on the user requirements, satisfaction, clearer design, usability, etc.

List of Software quality attributes

Software Quality attributes help to measure the quality of the software from different angles. Software Quality Attributes can be broadly classified into 5 types: Design, Runtime, System, User, and Non-runtime qualities. However, when we go into detail there are at least 14 different attributes. Let’s discuss this in detail.

Reliability

Reliability is the ability of software applications to behave as expected and function under the maximum possible load.

Reliability is made up of different types

  • Availability: The percentage of time the application is available for use. 100% availability refers to the system being always available and never going down under any circumstances.
  • Recoverability: Recoverability refers to the ability to recover the system quickly and efficiently. 
  • Fault Tolerance: This attribute refers to the extent to which the system can tolerate hardware failures. 

Let’s take an example of an e-commerce website. The website went down as one of the server nodes crashed. In an ideal situation, if the reliability attribute is implemented then the system should automatically failover to the other server node.

Maintainability

Maintainability refers to how easily software developers can add new features and update existing features with new technologies. The application architecture plays a critical role in maintainability. The well-architected software makes maintenance easier and more cost-effective.

Consider the scenario where the law enforces new privacy laws. If your software is running on legacy code, adhering to new laws might be challenging. If the software is well-architected and the code is well documented, implementing such changes would be an easy task.

Usability

The Usability attributes refer to the end user’s ease of use. Usability is tied to application performance, application UX design, and accessibility. To understand usability better let’s consider an e-commerce page – user has purchased an item and wants to return the item. Good usability makes the return option available on the orders page. In some cases, the return option may appear on to contact us page – in this situation user easily gets confused and faces difficulty to find the return option.

The usability design principles can help to design a good customer experience. The meaningful option texts, tooltips, and info icons are a great way to encourage self-learning.

Portability

The portability quality attribute refers to how easily the system can be ported or migrated to other environments containing different hardware or operating system specifications. The portability problem is majorly faced in mobile native applications.

An example of a portability issue – you have designed a web application that works perfectly fine on Android devices but when it is ported to iPhone devices (iOS), it fails to render. If your application is abstracted from UI and business logic, fixing such issues becomes easy. 

Correctness

Correctness refers to the ability to behave or function as per software requirement specifications. This may include navigations, calculations, form submissions, etc.

Consider an example of sign-up. Your application should navigate to the terms and conditions page after signing up as per the requirement specification. However, it is landing on the home page without showing the terms and conditions page. Strict code reviews checklist and Unit testing can help to discover such bugs.

Efficiency

Efficiency can be defined as the time taken by the system to complete a specific task. In layman’s terms, it can be the performance of the application. Performance is the most critical software quality attribute as it can make the user system to a hung state. The utilization of system resources should be taken care with the most efficient way, and any memory leaks should be avoided to achieve high efficiency.

For example, if you open one of the video editor applications on your desktop, as soon as you open your system freezes, and all the other open application start to behave in an unintended way. This is a bad application design and shows the poor efficiency of the software.

Security

Security attribute focuses on the ability to safeguard applications, data, and information from unauthorized entities. This is very crucial as the data leaks may incur huge losses in terms of organization’s brand name and reputation. Furthermore, the organization may face a lawsuit.

Authentication, authorization, and data encryption are a few key areas that can safeguard from malicious attacks. Add on to this, if your application is B2C, educating customers also plays an important role.

An example of a security attribute is, you have developed an API endpoint that is exposed to the public however, there is no authorization required to access this endpoint. This can make API and the underlying system, less secure. To make the API secure you can consider enabling a JWT security token as mandatory, which can be created only by authorized users.

Testability

Testability is how easily QA members can test the software and log a defect and how easy it is to automate the software applications. Your application design should focus on making the testing easier and faster. 

Consider an example, you have designed a web application that doesn’t contain any uniquely identifiable locators. This makes automation more complicated. Adding ids, data-testid, and class helps to cover more scenarios through automation.

Nowadays automation testing is most recommended as it makes the delivery faster. If your application is automation friendly then one can easily automate the application using automation software like Testsigma and identify the defects in the early stage.



Flexibility

Technology changes are more common nowadays. Flexibility refers to how quickly your application can adapt to future and current technology demands. Indirectly the flexibility attribute is tied up with your competency in the market. If your application is not up to date with the latest technology then you might not be able to deliver all the user needs.

For example, You are using a third-party library for styling your application. Due to some reasons, the third-party library declares the end of development. Now the question arises of how quickly your application can switch to another library. If it takes longer, then it might cost your business.

Never develop applications with tight coupling of libraries you have reference to, rather design applications in a generic manner and hook the libraries.

Scalability

Scalability is how easily your system can handle increasing demands without affecting the application’s performance. Vertical Scalability and Horizontal Scalability are two primary areas that help to meet the scalability criteria.

For example, an e-commerce website declares a Black Friday sale. On sale day, the application sees huge traffic. If your application is designed according to the scalability attribute, as soon as the traffic increases, the system should automatically add the server nodes and distribute the traffic. Failing to do that may result in your application going down.

Compatibility

Compatibility focuses on the ability to work software systems on different operating systems, and browsers seamlessly as expected without affecting any functionality.

A most common problem with the web application where it works on Chrome but it doesn’t on Firefox. This is because of compatibility issues. When it comes to business, you can’t restrict users to use a specific browser. However, such issues can be tested using the most popular tools like Testsigma. Testsigma provides 3000+ real devices and multiple browsers to execute your automated tests for compatibility testing. Using such automation tools helps to discover compatibility issues at an early stage.

Supportability

It is the degree to which a software system can provide useful information for identifying and resolving the issues when application/functionality stops working. Enabling logging, monitoring, and health checks are most useful to adapt supportability.

For Example, Your application has a profile information page, which works perfectly fine for some users and only a few users are facing issues with the profile page. In this case, it is difficult to reproduce in a lower-level environment. The logs come in handy to identify the call stack and reference APIs which is causing the issue.

Reusability

It is the degree to which software components can be reused in another application or the same application. Reusable software components reduce the development cost and effort. This is one of the reasons most companies are encouraging component-based development. 

For example, your organization is developing two different applications where both the application needs sign-in and sign-up forms. If you don’t have a reusable components strategy then you need to develop the same thing two times. On the other hand, if you have identified common components and designed those as reusable and shareable components it would be much easier to integrate sign-in and sign-up screens into both the application. The reusable component can also decrease maintenance costs.

Interoperability

Interoperability refers to the ability to communicate or exchange data between different systems. Which can be operating systems, databases, or protocols. The interoperability problem arises due to the legacy code base, poorly architectured application, and poor code quality.

For example, Your application needs to communicate with the payment gateway but you are facing challenges to integrate with the payment gateway due to various standards mismatch. If you had taken all the security, data, and standard API design approach this wouldn’t have happened.

Importance of Software Quality Attributes

Software quality attribute determines software system usefulness and success. Often the software quality attributes safeguard you from reputation damage. Software quality attributes should be introduced at the early stage of the software development life cycle (SDLC). While architecting your application you should consider the quality attribute. If all the software quality attributes are taken care then your application can sustain in the market for a long time.

Adapting software quality attributes is not a one-time task, rather it is continuous and it can evolve. The management should enforce adapting software quality attributes to achieve high standards. Keep in mind that adapting quality attributes at a later stage might be challenging and it can be pricier. As many software quality attribute focus on core-level architecture, it should be introduced at an early stage.

How can Test Automation Help in Improving Software Quality Attributes?

The software automation tool can help in ensuring the various quality attributes. For example, when we talk about scalability, a performance testing tool such as JMeter can help you to ensure scalability before going to production. Similarly, the Testsigma test automation tool can help you to ensure Correctness, Compatibility, and Usability. Compatibility testing is the most challenging as it requires a huge investment in infrastructure. 

Fortunately, Testsigma made it easier. It provides 3000+ real devices including desktop and mobile platforms and provides many different browsers to test on. Using Testsigma without any additional effort you can run your compatibility across browsers and platforms using the same automation scripts. Testsigma is codeless automation tool that lets you write scripts in plain English. In turn, it helps to adapt the Quality attributes with less effort and cost.



Doesn’t matter if your application is large or small, simple or complex you need to consider software quality attributes. Software quality attributes not only focus on technological aspects but it also important to run and sustain in the market. So quality attributes play a key role in both technology and business. Nowadays it’s not even an option rather it’s a need.

What are the characteristics of software quality? The characteristics of software quality usually include:
  • reliability
  • maintainaibility
  • usability
  • portability
  • correctness
  • efficiency
  • security
  • testability
  • flexibility
  • scalability
  • compatibility
  • supportability
  • reusability
  • interoperability

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