When it comes to QA, crowd testing’s got a bit of a bad rep.
That’s because testing on this sort of scale often raises concerns around security and quality; “it’s safer to do it in-house” or “too many chefs…” are common responses in meetings when someone utters the term.
And you know what? There’s no smoke without fire.
But crowdsourced testing has come a long way in the 15-plus years it’s been around; a number worth noting when crowd testing is commonly misconceived as “too new” of an idea.
In fact, big businesses like Amazon, Google, Facebook and many more are now using it as standard. Because being quicker and more cost-effective no longer means you have to skimp on standards.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty about why crowdsourced testing’s worth considering, let’s clear up the confusion around what it actually is and what best practice looks like.
What is crowdsourced testing?
You’re no doubt aware that crowdsourcing has become a popular way for individuals or organisations to get ideas, feedback and even funding from large and diverse groups of participants. But that same model also makes it a great way to test digital products, too. That’s because crowd testing techniques give you a breadth of results across multiple browsers, devices and demographics.
And along with benefits such as speed, flexibility and overhead costs (we’ll go into this in more detail later), it can also improve creative processes and enhance team productivity.
Does crowd testing replace internal QA?
No, not at all. In-house Quality Assurance teams (QA) will always be invaluable. They’re aligned with a company’s values and mission and are equipped with a wealth of product knowledge. Instead, crowd testers are used to enhance a business’ existing capabilities. They complement the internal team at scale; helping to meet pressing deadlines and high demand.
Because, unlike internal QA, crowd testing can unearth those tricky hidden errors that, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t find in-house.
That’s if you have the expertise in-house; unfortunately, it’s no secret that there’s a growing shortage of skills in the market. The good thing about crowd testing is it allows you to access professional testers – without hiring the talent.
But let’s be clear, crowd testing isn’t necessarily right for every part of QA. For example, it’s not really the best approach when it comes to automation, system integration testing or test pack maintenance. The area of test case execution is where it really comes into its own. Furthermore, exploratory, regression, localisation, usability and payments testing (to name a few) deliver great value from crowd testing.
The benefits of crowdsourced web testing
OK, without further ado, here are nine reasons why it’s well worth crowdsourcing your testing today.
1. It gives you immediate access to professional testers
Although internal testing is usually carried out by qualified QA professionals, it’s almost always a team that’s already overloaded; one that has to pause and prioritise their tasks whilst being severely pushed for time.
The difference with crowd testing communities is that they’re available 24/7. So these professionally-qualified testers can immediately reduce the strain – whenever it is you you need them.
These testers can help with critical events, too. For example, imagine an urgent issue arises but you can’t diagnose where it is or what’s causing it. Using the crowd, you have lightning-fast access to results, visual evidence and step-by-step information about the issue from professional testers.
But who exactly it is that’s doing the testing can be a concern.
With so many hours and resources invested, enterprises are rightfully concerned about who’s working on their digital products. That’s why any crowd testing organisation that’s worth its salt will do its due diligence.
Well at Digivante, we go a step further than checking our tester’s credentials. To become a tester with us you’ve got to complete an ‘entrance exam’ and adhere to strict community standards. This ensures every project – big or small – is tested to the highest calibre. So even in the most complex of projects, the quality and confidentiality of your business processes and products will never be compromised.
Because on top of the above, we also review crowd testing issues in-house to ensure that every issue our clients see is a real one.
And where do honest results come from? Simple: actual devices that are used in real life.
2. It covers more devices and demographics than traditional testing
Avoiding the problems that arise from working under artificial settings, crowd testing gives you global results from genuine everyday scenarios.
This is important because the real world isn’t like the lab – it’s imperfect. For example, users remove and reinstall apps all the time on their phones. What’s more, carriers might not always have sufficient data or WiFi which can cause unexpected behaviour in apps.
Crowdsourced testing ensures that real-world devices are always used over emulators.
But why’s that important?
Well, emulators are definitely useful for getting a flavour for how a site works on a certain device. However, they create a laborious process for developers. In fact, it’s almost a full-time job to deal with the technology behind emulators – let alone the time it takes to carry out the tests.
But not only are real devices more accurate; they’re cost-effective too. Staggeringly, there are over 24,000 types of operating systems and smart devices in the world to test on! No single traditional software testing company can provide that amount of devices or software platforms to ensure compatibility for every visitor.
Not only does crowdsourced testing give you a greater opportunity to access these devices; it opens you up to so many more demographics, too. And it’s invaluable if you’re looking to tap into new markets.
Crowdsourced testing gives you global coverage and can help ensure your app or website resonates well in various regions before going live. A globally crowdsourced web testing team can also help handle the specifics that come with localisation; geographical issues like language, cultural differences, regional browser and internet restrictions.
Pretty useful, huh?
3. It’s fast, flexible and much more cost-effective
There’s no doubt about it: crowd testing will uncover more issues – and in a much shorter period.
In fact, it’s able to deliver the equivalent of 90 days of testing in just 72 hours.
Crucially, that’s about a 55% cost saving compared to hiring full-time web testers; important to note considering testing makes up between 20 to 40% of software project costs, according to TechBeacon.
And unlike hiring full-time testers, you’re not tied to the expense or management overheads. Nobody’s sitting around twiddling their thumbs in between tests; as a flexible resource, crowdsourced testers can be turned on or off as required. This flexibility also means you’ll get access to testers across multiple time zones – day or night.
Just imagine, you’ve got a pressing release and your developer’s backs are up against the wall.
Well, the beauty of this type of testing is that it could be done over the weekend with the results delivered by Monday morning. Ready for your development team to jump on any fixes without delay.
Tick that one off the list, it’s on to the next.
4. It redirects development resources to more pressing projects
With the arduous task of testing out the way, often a cause of delays in the release cycle, your developers will have more time to work on other things – like product enhancements or backup systems.
To put things in context, Digivante’s crowd testing community operates 24/7 – meaning you can complete two days worth of testing in two hours.
For example, you might have 10 days in your development sprint; five days of development and five for testing.
Flipping the model over to crowd testing would give you a whopping 9.5 days of development as you’d only need half a day for testing.
When developers and digital product teams are facing so much pressure to rapid-release new features to the market, just imagine what they’d achieve with the extra time.
Because time’s a luxury they ordinarily don’t have.
And when considering these teams are now displaced, working disparately from one another, that’s one less thing for you – and them – to worry about.
5. It’s geared up for the remote working world
Crowd testing lends itself to the way we’re working these days. Not only is this type of testing faster and more representative but, being remote, it’s safe too.
As Covid restrictions and remote working have become the norm, many product teams are finding it a challenge to access all the devices they need to test comprehensively.
However, by blending crowd testing with technology, you’ll avoid disruption to your usual business processes, get a wider field of results and receive the data more efficiently.
For example, our Digivante Portal tracks everything clearly and any reported errors can be fed back in real-time via Jira tickets.
Crucially, internal teams can log backend test results in the Portal too, meaning everything’s found in one place – wherever you’re working.
6. It removes the possibility of bias
Your development team or internal reviewers will unknowingly make assumptions about how the site/app should work. It can’t be helped, they’re so close to it.
Instead, outside testers will come in with fresh eyes.
Although they work in harmony with your company and approach, crowd testers aren’t “part of the team”. And that’s a good thing. It means they won’t unknowingly succumb to cognitive biases and will always provide a realistic assessment.
It will always be relevant too; one of the huge benefits of crowdsourcing testers is their diverse backgrounds. You’ll access individuals from different countries, socioeconomic statuses and, crucially, with varying experiences and worldviews.
And with such a mix of perspectives? Well, it only makes sense that this group’s likely to challenge the status quo or see things from a different angle.
This leads us to our next point…
7. Crowdsourced testing makes for better UX
Simply put: diversity makes for better and more well-rounded results.
By accessing a wider range of experiences and perspectives, you’ll ensure results are relevant to your entire customer base.
Good user experiences come from feedback. And there’s no other way of getting such a breadth of qualitative and quantitative data than crowd testing. Hundreds or even thousands of individuals – all tasked with the same objective.
However, its applications in UX don’t stop there. Crowd testing allows you to create ‘custom crowds’ that closely resemble your user base.
This could be useful if you’re moving into a new market and want the experience of a specific culture. Alternatively, you might want to specify certain genders, ages or interests. Simply put, the insight you can get with crowd testing is unparalleled.
8. This type of testing creates more accessible experiences
According to Statista, approximately 2.28 million individuals in the UK were classified as having moderate-severe vision loss in 2020; an estimated 1.1 billion people are living with untreated vision impairment worldwide, reports UCL.
Crowdtesters can run accessibility tests on your website (using WCAG guidelines as a basis) to ensure your site is built with disabled users in mind. Google uses accessibility as the benchmark for good UX. It deems these sites the easiest to understand and, consequently, ranks them highest in its results.
But it’s not just “best practice”; ignoring these principles can have costly consequences. The likes of Netflix, Beyonce and Disney have all faced million-dollar lawsuits in the US when their websites were deemed unfit for disabled users.
9. With crowd testing, the incentive to find defects is there
Finally, crowd testers are paid for the issues they find. So with that in mind, the results tend to be stronger than when time-pressured internal testers have to perform the task.
Not only that, because crowd testers are compensated for finding defects as opposed to their loyalty, the results are often more accurate, independent and reflective of the outside world.
But it isn’t just about the money.
Crowdtesters are professionals who are passionate about what they do. It’s an interconnected community of individuals who will use the quality of the issues they find to build their reputation in a highly competitive industry.
For example, Digivante testers start out with a ‘Steel’ ranking. They can then work up to a ‘Diamond’ rating (through ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Platinum’ in between). In order to get a higher rating, they must have found a certain number of issues, e.g. moving from Steel to Bronze requires 10 defects to be accepted by our team and an overall acceptance rate of 40%. To get a Diamond rating, testers must have achieved 200 accepted defects, an acceptance rate of 70% and be consistently active in the portal. No small feat but well worth putting in the time.
Simply put: working with this calibre of testers is a win-win for everybody involved.
Where should crowdtesting fit with your overall QA strategy?
Like with test automation, crowdtesting shouldn’t be the only type of testing that you run. Crowdtesting is a tool for your QA teams and our Test Analysts augmenting your team to deliver you fast, detailed results on website or app issues.
We draw on professional testers from 149 countries around the world – available around the clock. Crucially, we can deploy 200 testers per test, delivering 90 days of testing in just 72 hours.
So, have you got a pressing release you need some support with? Get in touch.