Look at the following South-Side-Up Map of The World (click on the image to expand it)
When I first saw it on the wall of a friend’s office I thought to myself “Australia is really big!”, then I looked at Europe, America & Russia and started seeing things I had not noticed before.
What happened to me here as I looked at the map and started seeing things differently is called “a change of perspective”, and it is a common way to look for new and interesting stuff in old places or to try to solve problems by looking at them “in a new light”.
The ability to look at things in a new light is one of the most important skills a tester should develop. It is extremely useful in order to be able to test your product thoroughly from multiple perspectives, and maybe even more important to be able to effectively test the same product time and time again without missing the new bugs.
Simple tips to gain testing perspective:
I have a number of techniques I use in order to gain a new perspective during my testing tasks:
1. Move to another task for a couple of hours/days.
This one is the simplest. When you think “you are done” with testing something put it aside for a couple of hours or a couple of days and go to test something else. When you return to the original project look for scenarios or areas in your product you didn’t test before.
It is important that the “time in between” is spent in a testing-related task and not on a meeting, having lunch, or going home for the night; it’s the context-switch that gives you the shake-up needed to find the old-new bugs.
2. Do a walk-through of the product to someone else in your team.
Grab hold of a developer or another tester in your team and take him on a walk-through of the application and the areas you’ve tested up to now, ask him for feedback. What you will be doing is a peer-review of your testing, very effective in providing valuable and cost-effective feedback.
This simple exercise has NEVER failed to provide me with interesting new areas to test.
3. See a demo of a competitor
A very easy and fast way to get new ideas to test stuff is by seeing a demo of one of the competitor products for your application. While looking at the demo or even browsing through their site you will start thinking of scenarios and functionality in your system you haven’t tested.
4. Talk to a user (or Product Manager) and ask him to explain the product to you in his words
This one is similar to looking at your competitor’s site but more focused on your product. The idea is to pay attention to the way others describe your product and look for things in their “marketing pitch” that you have not covered in your testing scenarios.
Great candidates for this task are your sales-people, who are constantly selling your product by highlighting specific features and scenarios in your AUT.
From my professional experience, perspective is a MUST for all testers, and proactively modifying the light under which we test our AUTs is something we need to be able to do in order to be Great Professional Testers.
Do you have additional tips or methods for gaining a different perspective while testing your products? Please share them with the rest of us by posting them as comments.