Using testing to ensure high-quality and a consistent user experience (part 1)

Possibly the most crucial part of testing is always keeping in mind your client’s and their users’ needs at every point of the process. You may think that your clients are generally similar in their needs, but the truth is that they can vary tremendously. Here at Mercurytide, we are constantly striving for higher quality standards, and we’d like to go over some of the things we think about when we’re testing new products.

 

Core needs and thinking outside the box

First and foremost, while testing we want to look into issues relating to the general use of the product. Clients will have core needs: the piece of software you are working on will need to work when users perform certain actions. Typically, users will be performing certain actions that are likely to happen repeatedly once the system is in use, like registering or making an order for example.

Of course, the most crucial aspect of this is to make sure that functionally the system will operate correctly, but it’s also very important that these core functionalities be tested from a variety of other perspectives. Is the system intuitive, ergonomic? Do all visual indications match up?

You’ll also want to think outside the box: checking functionality just a few times is not enough. You want to make sure to account for multiple variations of use on the same functionality. What happens if the user makes a simple mistake, and how easy is it for them to correct those mistakes? There are a million ways things could go wrong, and a tester’s job is to keep track of as many as possible.

Sometimes clickable areas and animations don't match upSometimes clickable areas and animations don't match up.

 

Simulating real user conditions

A big part of thinking outside the box is considering what might change when the system is actually in use. Can your system still function just as well with a large amount of entries? Will display be affected in any way? Maybe on other pages?

Here at Mercurytide we have developed a reliable solution to help us make sure all of this is up to par. Our fully automated form checker and filler can provide a large amount of tests and entries to a site, making sure all forms work as expected in all circumstances. It can also fill a database with entries through forms, just as the end users would and combined with a wide array of configuration options, providing a great way to populate a site with real-looking data for testing or presentation purposes.

 

Form checker hard at work, filling the database with mock data for testing

Form checker hard at work, filling the database with mock data for testing

 

Whenever we don’t have access to automation, another option is a quick edit to the HTML itself. This can ensure the display will not be affected by a larger amount of entries, or more content than initially intended.

Pagination testing, a truncation item highlights on hoverUsing these methods, we can check display for more data entries...
In this case a truncated pagination item appears clickable once you reach 11 pages.

 

Backdrop to pop-up shown breaking on longer pages

Or check for display issues for elements that might be affected by page length.
No extra work needed!

 

Thinking about new features utility

When we are working on new features of a product it’s essential that testers always ask: “What is this new feature for?”. This simple question is what allows us to keep the needs of the client in mind. This sometimes means looking into adding micro-features that the client hasn’t thought about, but that are revealed to be near essential during testing, from an operational standpoint. For example, when providing the option for a new type of account creation, the option might have been functionally implemented – like in the example below. But what about how it’s used in application? Will users be able to tell different accounts from each other? How essential is that to their operation? For these kinds of questions, testing will have to work hand-in-hand with our aftercare department, to make sure we fully grasp the client’s needs.

New functionality: before and after polish

The same accounts before and after revision by quality control:
We added a new feature to allow accounts without email addresses, but you initially couldn't differentiate them as accounts with email also don't show addresses out of privacy concerns, and the help text remained unchanged. With a simple tweak of help text handling, we helped ensure this wouldn't be too confusing for users.

 

Extending checks to fit specific needs

Of course, thinking about the core needs a site may have isn’t the only thing you have to keep track of. Sites are bound to have users that behave differently or that will access your content in an unpredictable way, no matter the reason. These special cases are definitively worth looking into, as catering to every client and their behaviour will really go a long way into elevating your brand image.

 

Read part 2 of this series

 


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