Quality assurance in software building and design takes a particular set of skills to do well. Every software engineer could benefit from the ability to test and locate bugs before submitting their builds for more rigorous testing.
Here are top tips for better software testing:
- Develop a culture of continuous improvement. Quality assurance should not be the last step in the development cycle. In an agile environment, testing takes place in each iteration before implementation. Regular and ongoing testing in everyday development will help yield better results long term.
- Test user documentation. User guides, tutorials, manuals, and other instructions can become out-of-date with updates and tweaks to the software. Testing your instructions should be part of your quality process. Here’s our tip: have a couple of people try your instructions as materials can be interpreted differently.
- Automate testing when you can. With new tools, mundane functions can be tested and reported by the system. These platforms cannot catch every issue, so human testing is still essential.
- Consider design flaws. User experience plays a significant role in the end user’s satisfaction. Testing should include feedback on button wording and placement, color usage and contrast, process flow, and more. In testing, a fresh pair of eyes can catch many issues overlooked by a developer. Like many professions, it’s tough to proof your own work.
- Run a pilot project before rollout. Beta testing software, especially when rolling out significant upgrades, is always advisable. Operating your software in a real environment with real users is always the best way to complete the testing of your final product. Keep your beta group small and invite those who know aren’t afraid to be hassled with a potentially buggy environment.
- Don’t forget regression testing. Once you’ve made changes to existing software, a developer may hope that the rest of the software functions as it should. Rather than expect that everything will work out as if by magic, add regression testing to make sure. This is the practice of going back and re-testing the entire application. Don’t forget to examine your data functions to ensure it maintains its integrity and no data is lost. Depending on your userbase and software functionality, consider load testing to ensure no issues with speed and availability become a problem during peak hours.
- Provide an easy way for users to report bugs. Bugs happen. No matter how much you test in advance. Your users will find bugs in the wild. Provide a way for them to report bugs and receive a reply for support.
Software testing can be seen as a tedious task that serves as a roadblock to production. It is so much more than that. With a continuous improvement mindset, testing is conducted throughout the development cycle!