Snippets of testing hints, tips and advice administered in bit size chunks. Links to more detail.

Requirements Gathering

  • Ask questions about what the website, web app or mobile app is designed to do and keep asking until you fully understand.
  • Request documentation, wireframes and designs, anything that is up to date and will help you gain further understanding. You can’t fully test something if you don’t know how it is supposed to work.

Test Planning

  • Get organised before you start testing, a little bit of planning helps massively as you progress with testing.
  • Really think about all the possible aspects that could be tested and prioritise the most important. For example, testing a site search can break down into many different items.

Website Testing Tips

  • Don’t try and test everything at once, test the website in several passes, for example, functionality in first pass, layout and styling in second pass, proof reading all copy in third pass, etc. This allows you to focus better and not get overwhelmed.
  • When raising issues, be as clear as you can and attach a screenshot so that the developer can easily recreate the issue and understand what the problem is. The longer a developer spends trying to work out what the problem is, the less time they have for fixing it.

Ecommerce Testing Tips

  • If a user logs into their account part way through the checkout process, check that their shipping/billing address details populate correctly, according to what addresses are set in their account.
  • For ecommerce sites, if you are displaying related products on a product page, test that the related products are currently in stock and available for purchase. It is frustrating for the user to click on a suggested product to find that it is out of stock.

Browser Testing Tips

  • Start testing with a browser that is fairly solid, such as Chrome or Firefox. This allows you to test the functionality and what the website should look like without many weird browser related issues such as may be found using IE8.
  • Then move onto IE8, IE9, etc. and compare with the browser you just tested on. This should highlight any differences between the browsers in terms of layout and styling related problems.

Tips for Testing Forms

  • Click on the Submit button first to make sure all required fields are highlighted and that correct validation messages are displayed next to each field.
  • When testing a date of birth field, make sure the field only allows you to select or enter a date of birth in the past. Similarly, for testing date fields for booking something, such as an event, party, accommodation, flights, etc. make sure the date fields only allow you to select a date in the future. Finally, with date fields, always check the date format you are supporting, as these obviously differ between UK and US, for example.
  • On a mobile device, if a user does not complete a form correctly and there are form validation errors, anchor them to the form so they can see those errors. Many sites take the user back to the top of the page where they cannot see that there are validation problems without scrolling down.

General Testing Advice

  • Keep learning about how websites work, about HTML and CSS and design principles. You don’t need to be a programmer but building a foundation of knowledge can really help to understand what you are testing in the future. I’ve been around websites for over 15 years and still learning something new most days.
  • Be inquisitive and talk to developers about programming and building websites. Picking up on the correct terminology will help you to make yourself understood (and gain further respect) with developers.
  • Similarly, talk to designers about design principles and what makes a well designed website. Learn what to look out for when testing so you can pick up on more design and styling issues.
  • As you build your own knowledge and expertise you can impart your viewpoint onto the developers and designers to forge stronger relationships. These relationships are worthwhile, as developers will go that bit further to hunt down an issue that they may be struggling to recreate.

Do you have any website or mobile testing advice you would like to share? Please let me know in the comments.