Modern Work

Software Testing Basics: 7 Tips to Become a Professional Software Tester

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Beware! We’re about to enter the dark and mysterious world of software testing, where secretive tech professionals labor day and night to produce the life-changing apps that we, the general public, rely on each and every day. All from behind the dim glow of a computer screen.

Actually, the reality isn’t quite so dramatic…

We’re about to discuss what software testing really is, why it’s important, and seven tips to become a professional software testing engineer. Ready?

The What and Why of Software Testing

First things first, what is software testing? Quite simply, software testing is the act of testing a piece of software for glitches, bugs, and anything else that might impact the user experience in a negative way.

Most of us never think about the work that goes into designing a fully functional app. Even less of us think about the time and energy that some people, the app testers of the world, go through to test our favorite applications and make sure they’re ready for the masses.

But without these hardworking folks, the software programs we love would be a lot less lovable.

So, we think you’ll agree, software testing is important. If you’re currently considering a career as an app tester, this blog post is for you. Below you’ll find our list of seven tips to help you become a professional in the world of software testing.

7 Tips to Nail Software Testing 

Software testing is an exciting field. The following seven tips will help you become a professional software testing engineer.

1. Realize What Testing Is Really About

When it comes down to it, software testing is all about reducing risk. Mainly, the risk of your application not meeting the expectations and standards of its users. Your ultimate goal (as we’ll discuss more in the next tip) is to create an amazing user experience.

What does that look like?

Focusing on the big wins, at least initially, that will have the most impact on the user. For example, if an invoicing app crashes every single time a billing fee of $100 or more is entered, that’s a major problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

On the other hand, a quick, millisecond delay when users input more than three items on the same invoice, while potentially annoying, won’t have the same negative impact as the previous problem and is, therefore, less risky. Do your best to reduce risk as much as possible.

2. Think Like a User

To succeed in the field of software testing, you need to think like a user. After all, these are the folks who will actually be using the piece of software on a regular basis. This isn’t always easy to do, especially if the app you’re working on is brand new.

To combat this, ask yourself questions like:

  • “What are users looking to get out of this app?
  • “How will they use this piece of software? Is it for business or personal purposes?”
  • “Are there any aspects of this app that will confuse users?”
  • “Are there any programming issues that will cause the app to crash while it’s being used?”

To become a successful software tester, you need to be able to put yourself in the user’s shoes. You need to view the app the way they do and anticipate both their needs and wants. If you can do that, you’ll be a valuable asset to software companies.

3. Make Testing a Team Effort

Oftentimes the person (or team) that builds an app is not the same as the person who tests it. One entity crafts the application and another focuses on the end user experience, putting the software through various challenges to identify any potential issues.

Though these two people (or teams) have different job descriptions, they’re still trying to achieve the same thing: a well-working app that users adore. As such, the developer and the tester need to be communicating.

Share detailed results of your findings with the developer. What worked, what didn’t, and why? This is crucial information to share. The more clear you can convey your findings, using actual metrics, the better. This will expedite the process and create a better working environment for all.

4. Use the Right Tools

There are plenty of tools out there that will make your software testing experience much easier and more enjoyable. Your job is to find the right tool — there are many software testing communities where open-source technologies are readily available — and assemble them into a customized testing suite, perfectly suited to your current project.

Also, for professionals testing software on a regular basis, automation is a must-have. Using automation tools will greatly increase your productivity and efficiency as a software tester.

The key when running automated tests is to keep them short. That way multiple scenarios can be tested within a short period of time. If a test can’t be configured to be short, it’s generally better to forgo the automation.

5. Test on Multiple Devices

Running software tests on just one device or system will quickly lead to disaster. Even iOS only apps should be tested on both iPhones and iPads. Why? Because the user experience will be different on each and every device and/or system.

What looks and runs amazingly on the new iPhone X might look very different on an iPhone 7 or the newest iPad. It will likely look and operate differently on an android device too. And a desktop computer? The user experience will obviously be completely disparate.

Successful software testing requires a commitment to analyzing both the looks and performance of each application, on every device and system it can possibly be run on. From smartphones to desktops, Android operating systems to Mac environments, be sure to test every potential.

6. Identify What “Good Enough” Means

There comes a point in time when more testing becomes detrimental to the overall health of a software company. No app is perfect, despite a software testers best efforts to identify each and every bug. You need to be able to realize when an app is “good enough.”

Now, we are NOT endorsing shoddy work. But budget constraints and business priorities will restrict you from spending excessive amounts of time on each and every software you test. Your job is to understand what the quality threshold is and aim for that mark.

Remember your goal: to reduce risk and create an app that users will love. Once you’ve ironed out the main kinks and the app runs smoothly in all major areas of expected usage, move on.

7. Analyze the Test Results and Communicate Clearly

One of your jobs as a software tester will be to report back to the development team on any and all bugs that you find.

You need to make your reports crystal clear and informative. If you don’t, confusion will ensue, and both time and money will be lost. There’s even the possibility that a developer will simply ignore the information you’re trying to convey if it isn’t easily understood.

So analyze the results of your tests thoroughly and then write a detailed document explaining your findings and suggesting the necessary changes.

Lastly, hold your developers to a high communication standard as well. Their reports back to you, outlining what’s been changed and how should also be clear and free of any possible misinterpretation. When both sides of this equation are communicating effectively, productivity will skyrocket.

Is Software Testing For You?

Software testing is an exciting and necessary field. We hope this blog post has been useful to you and has given you a basic understanding of the skills you need to be a successful app tester. Now it’s up to you to get out there and make it happen!

Remember, the purpose of software testing is to reduce risk, not necessarily to find every bug. To do this, you must keep the user experience at the forefront of your mind at all times. Also, the best software testers understand that testing is a team effort. They also invest in the right tools and know how to assemble a testing suite.

Finally, don’t forget to test each app on a variety of devices and systems. Then report what you find back to the development team in a clear, impossible to misunderstand way.

Your ultimate goal is to build an app that works, that’s “good enough”, minimizes risk and won’t impact the user experience in a negative way. All at a productive rate that makes the software company money.

Is that a tall order? Perhaps, but somebody has to do it. Why not you?

March 14, 2019