Exploratory testing brings a different level of skill and insight to conversion rate optimisation; a level which most brands, CRO agencies and testing companies just don’t have access to.
Why website testing is no joke
As the old developer joke goes: “There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one works.”
Well, joking apart, perhaps there is a third way. A process of continual, agile testing; a feedback loop from exploratory testers to developers who, in an agile world, are constantly reviewing and refining their work to achieve better results.
CRO should be an ongoing process
Conversion rate optimisation is no longer a one-off project. It’s a constant opportunity that requires a full range of skills and mastery of disciplines to deliver real changes in website performance.
In a digital world fragmented by devices and different kinds of browser, one size fits all CRO solutions are not going to address a ‘long tail’ of potential issues that could be holding back your growth.
The days of ‘low hanging’ CRO fruit are over. A consultant or agency are not going to be able to look at your site or app and instantly decide, once and for all, what needs to be done to improve your conversion rate.
They need to understand the diversity of device and browser combinations accessing the site, they need to have the most sophisticated analytics available to them – and they need to be involved in a continual round of ‘real-world testing’ to uncover the most pressing issues and the most vital optimisation opportunities for you.
All this takes testing skills, customer insight and resources that most brands, CRO agencies and even some testing companies just don’t have.
Among these, is the capacity for ongoing, exploratory testing.
What is exploratory testing?
Exploratory testing is an agile testing methodology that gives skilled testers free-range to explore a website. It gives qualified testers the freedom to follow their hunches, creativity, product and industry knowledge to uncover potential undiscovered bugs and usability issues.
In scripted testing, you design test cases first and later proceed with test execution. On the other hand, exploratory testing is a simultaneous process of test design and test execution.
Scripted or automated testing might show whether or not a particular customer journey is functional or usable in the way intended, but it won’t necessarily show whether it’s cluttered, illogical or otherwise confusing. Neither will it allow for a fuller exploration of all the possible UX scenarios emerging from these tests that might be affecting a website’s performance.
It’s a technique that allows testers to dig deeper into a site and the experience it offers. It gives them the opportunity to replicate real-world behaviour and decision making beyond the script, that may be affecting conversion and revenue in previously unguessed ways.
Exploratory testing brings deep CRO insight for ‘agile’ companies
Ongoing, exploratory testing of this kind can help companies optimise conversion rate by:
- Proactively protecting the brand: spotting new issues, bugs and poor customer experiences resulting from dynamic and ongoing website changes. Identifying problems before your customers do
- Continually spotting new opportunities for better conversion within real-world customer journeys
- Creating a more collaborative and effective relationship between testers and developers
- Creating a loop of ongoing, actionable feedback delivered to a development team in real time, to prioritise optimisation work, as well as suggesting brand new features and functionality
The more skilled your testers are, the more industry knowledge they possess, and the greater their access to real-world devices, the more detail and value they can bring to their exploratory tests.
For exploratory testing to be successful, in addition to highly skilled and experienced testers you need to ensure that results from these efforts are being delivered quickly and reliably to development teams. This might include video footage of the customer journeys undertaken and the issues spotted, so that findings can be more easily understood, incorporated into workflows and future test scripts.
How to use exploratory testing as part of a wider strategy
Exploratory testing should obviously not be your primary testing strategy. It’s no substitute for large scale performance or usability testing, for example.
But it should be a key part of your strategy to ensure a cycle of continuous improvement. For those using Agile and DevOps approaches, this process of constant creative thinking around changes and improvements to programs is, after all, an essential part of the way they need to work.
Who can deliver?
The right website testing agency will bring the scale and breadth of coverage to provide the kind of scripted, cost-effective bulk and localised website testing that most internal teams and contractors just can’t manage.
But in a digital world in a constant state of flux, you need a testing solution that can be proactive in seeking out issues and opportunities.
You should ensure any testing agency you choose, comes to you with the experience, resource and capabilities to deliver ongoing and exploratory testing strategies, too.