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QA & You: This Christmas, Show Your Device Lab Some Holiday Love!

Kevin Apgar
#Industry Insights, #Digital Strategy
Published on December 17, 2018

Diagram's Kevin Apgar shares some tips to build out your QA Device Lab.

Jingle Bell, 404s smell,
Your web app laid an egg,
QC tasks are building up,
And the device lab's gone astray... HEY!

Happy holidays, my QA brethren. I am here today to help you get a handle on at least the last line of my sad attempt at holiday song parody. Ideally, if done right, fixing that will help take care of the previous three.

No matter what, though, I will never be the next "Weird" Al Yankovic. *sniffle*

I digress.

I have discussed the importance of device labs to web design companies before. I really hope that discussion hit home and that you started some work on a device lab of your own. I know that ours has seen some really positive improvement in the last six months. We have added two new mobile devices and one re-purposed Windows laptop to the office lab, cleared out a half dozen severely deprecated items, shut down our homebred virtual machines, and added a SaaS solution to help cover some of the remaining needs. I also have some mounts for the physical devices that will soon be used on that moveable display I briefly mentioned.

Despite all this new device lab awesomeness, I can't help but feel like more can be done to improve upon it. I'd really hate to lose this momentum.

My tip for you right now? Focus on, as Curly's Law dictates, "One thing, just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don't mean [bleep]."


That's right, don't be greedy in the season of giving. Just ask for that one thing that will help power your QC efforts to the next level. If you can figure out what that one thing is, you're golden. If you haven't quite figured it out, feel free to try one of these ideas to help you suss it out...

Remove Something

Is there a device present that just doesn't quite have the user stats to support its continued inclusion as a quality control check for your clients? With both Google Android and Apple iOS launching new high-profile devices and major upgrades to their mobile operating systems in the last few months, have you taken a look recently to see what devices, browsers, and OSs are being used by visitors to your site? It might be time to have your analytics specialists run some new reports. If the numbers are too low, then maybe now is a good time to remove it from your lab.

Yup, we have one of these not-particularly-necessary items in our lab. It's just too old and I hardly ever use it and it is not even up to date on its operating system; I'm not even sure it can run the latest version of the OS without imploding. Honestly, I only keep it around for extreme fringe cases.

If removing an item is just leaving a gaping hole in your lab, then maybe you should...

Replace Something

Is there a device in your lab that you dread firing up because it is soooo slow that its use does more to frustrate you than assist your QC efforts?

I hate to have to break it to you, but if the stats support it, you will either have to keep using it and risk the migraines or you can talk to your superiors about replacing it with a similar device that can be scaled up with revised operating systems and browsers as they become available. If the unit is not too terribly old, maybe there will be some resale or trade-in value for it. If there is no salvaging it, then take it out back and, well...


We have one of those in our lab as well and, if my boss is reading this, he had better be prepared for that memo to cross his inbox pretty soon.

Add Something

Perhaps you are new to the Device Lab game and don't yet have something old that is in dire need of disposal or replacement. If that is you, in addition to counting me among your envious, then simply adding a new device might be right up your alley.

For many, December 31 is the end of your fiscal year and you may be scrambling to get some budget line items fleshed out and funds spent. Well, add a new device to your lab! Apple released some new iPhones. Samsung has launched some new phones and phablets as well. How about that behemoth of a new iPad Pro? Or the latest Microsoft Surface Pro? All would be worthy additions to a proper Device Lab.

Go get your boss' blessing and start shopping. The end of the year will be on you before you know it!

Happy hunting!

BTW, if you have photos of your Device Lab, link to them in the comments below along with a description of the devices themselves. I'd love to see what you've built up!