Tilca Technology Technology updates and thoughts from Tilca

Bitesize Improvement 2: Tester

by Art

Posted on Wednesday Apr 20, 2016 at 08:08PM in Technology

Following the previous entry in this series, here are some suggestions for improving your testing skills.

Domain understanding

  1. Can you explain the point of the application you're testing, in about one minute? What are its benefits for the users? What about for the people who are paying for the development and testing? (These two groups are not always the same.)

  2. What would happen if the application didn't exist? Could its work be done by hand? If so, try doing the work by hand. You'll be forced to think through each step in the process which should help you think of test cases.


Your remit might not extend to usability (many projects delegate this to a different role, such as the UX designer), but using an application in different ways that reflect real life use can expose flaws.

  1. Watch some actual users of the application, if it's already in production. You don't have to quiz them or do it in a structured way.

  2. Watch some actual users of a different application. People use computers (and tablets, and mobile phones) in different and personal ways. You might never have watched someone else use their mobile phone for any length of time or to complete a specific task. Other users do strange things like rotating their tablet in the middle of entering text. Maybe you need to test that.

Test data

Predictable, easily regenerated test data will let you get on with exploring the system instead of spending time setting up the system under test, which can be laborious and error-prone.

A little help from the developers of the application will go a long way here. I recommend they create a special API that allows some canned data to be recreated. This API could also have a way to reset the system into a known state, deleting existing data and clearing any caches.

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