4 Practical Tips for Testing your Application “In a New Light”

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.



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4 Responses to 4 Practical Tips for Testing your Application “In a New Light”

  1. Maksim June 7, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    Hello Joel,

    I somehow translate this post to the Russian language: http://www.yatester.ru/2010/06/south-side-world.html
    (your blog noticed as a source)

    Don't you mind about it?

    Also, would you be so kind to send me original map file? – I just want to print it in a large size.

  2. Joel Montvelisky June 7, 2010 at 10:43 am #

    Hi Maksim,
    Thanks for translating the post!
    With regards to the map, I don’t have a bigger copy although I will be ordering mine to post it on the wall later this week.
    You can do the same from the link at the bottom of the post.

  3. Monica January 3, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    Hi, Joel,
    Nice post. I have one suggestion for a “new” way of testing a product. I have employed it in the past and it gave me a very interesting “back door” to testing functionality. Basically, I asked for a list of all messages that the application or a specific functional area has (errors, warnings, etc). Going down the list, I accomplished the following:
    1. By trying to reproduce all messages (some are not easy, but most should be), I uncovered other ways to get to certain conditions
    2. I tested that the message is actually displayed when it's supposed to be
    3. a “cleanup” was performed, because we uncovered quite a few unused messages – that were later removed from the code (this exercise would also help in the case of translations performed for I18N, by reducing the cost of translation).
    Try it – it works wonders!

  4. joelmonte January 4, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Hi Monica,
    I think this is a pretty cool approach!
    I specially can see how you did come up with many places where the message was simply there and not been accessed by any scenario in the system.
    Thanks for the input!!

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