By its very definition, “agile” should make things easier, right?
It means developers can stay reactive to a business or customer’s needs and update products in regular, incremental chunks. Much less of a headache than frantically scrambling towards one major release, surely.
So, what’s the problem?
Partly, that chipping away in fortnightly sprints also means racing towards release dates. And when you speed up development cycles you leave no room for robust regression testing.
So, how can your developers be 100% sure that no bugs have crept into your codebase?
Unfortunately, they can’t.
But it’s not just developers who are struggling; software testers and product managers are feeling the strain too.
No matter how hard they work, limited test resources, shortening product life cycles and increasing software complexity means everyone involved reaches their breaking point.
But it’s the customers that really suffer. They’re the ones left with a poor quality website or app that’s not fulfilling their needs.
And what happens next?
Well, something as small as an additional second in your site’s load speed could cause users to bounce and head elsewhere.
In fact, 40% of customers will abandon a site if the load speed is longer than three seconds. Perhaps the best way to check whether product developments have introduced any issues is regression testing. The problem is, you simply can’t afford to carry out one of these at the end of every sprint. It’s a major drain on resources to test this way – not to mention the time it takes to wait for your results. Go down this route and your competitors would end up racing ahead – leaving you in the digital dust.
So, what can you do?
Change tact and embrace more efficient ways of testing.
With that in mind, here are six of the best website testing strategies to keep things moving – and beat the bottleneck.
#1. Get stakeholders singing from the same hymn sheet
First things first, you need to do a little digging around your current web testing strategy.
Start by analysing previous releases to uncover the issues. Sure, it can be a little painful but you can’t find the solution without diagnosing the problem.
Next, what are the major pain points for everyone involved? Talk to developers and testers to find out what’s going wrong – they’re closer to the product than anybody.
Then get everyone involved aligned with the vision.
If that sounds tricky, there’s one objective that trumps all else: whatever you develop must be user-centric.
In other words, make sure the user is at the centre of every new feature you develop. To do so, start by making sure both your development and testing teams understand the importance of defining clear use outcomes.
How do they do that? It’s simple.
Just ask users to get involved in the development process. No, not by getting them to write lines of code; instead, conduct some invaluable usability testing during development.
This will highlight any issues that, perhaps, in-house teams are too close to the product to see. Importantly, it will give you insight based on real experiences – not simulated environments. For example, they can check those connection speeds in variable Wi-Fi conditions – not to mention being able to view the entire experience with an unbiased lens.
It could give you a competitive edge too, especially if stats compiled by Truelist are anything to go by. This revealed that 88% of internet users would not return to a site they had a bad experience but only 55% of businesses are actually user-testing their products.
The good thing is, once user perspectives are factored into the process, buy-in for a new feature across your development team and testers is much easier to achieve.
But getting user insight can help the process in other ways too.
#2. Write user stories that pop off the page
The great thing about usability testing is it can inform your user stories. At the end of the day, their feedback’s fact – not fiction. What’s more insightful than that?
Along with gathering customer insight from real experiences, try and make sure you consider the following when writing stories:
- Create multiple stories – you’re likely to have more than one type of user, so consider writing multiple personas.
- Map stories – write a story for each step in larger processes.
- Subtasks and tasks – which specific steps need to be completed and who’s responsible for each?
- Set criteria – what needs to be fulfilled in order for your user story to be complete?
- Time – stories should be completable in a single sprint. However, you might want to break these up into smaller chapters if it’s looking like an epic.
Sound like a lot of work? Trust us, it’ll save plenty of time in the long run – for developers and testers. Because how can anyone test effectively from a vague, one-line story?
So why not introduce a template for your user stories to make sure each one is consistent and testable? That way developers and testers can return a task to the backlog until it has a detailed description. Sounds counterintuitive but it’ll actually help ease your business’ bottleneck in the long run.
Speaking of which…
#3. Defects, devices and getting your digital ducks in a row
A mounting backlog of bugs, an ever-growing number of operating systems and devices to test on and no firm idea of which platforms and locations are relevant for your target audience. Where on Earth do you start?
What you need is an internal process to follow and, better still, a portal to collate everything.
The Digivante testing portal is designed to help you quickly identify and act on critical testing information. To keep things simple, it consolidates test results and presents findings in a visual format that’s easy to interpret. The portal can also send automated reports, saving your team time sifting through the backlog. In turn, this helps you focus on fixing problems rapidly and thoroughly.
However, it’s not just a useful tool for testers; it can help prioritise the most pressing tasks for developers too. This is because it integrates with project management tools that software development teams are already using, e.g. JIRA and Azure DevOps. This allows them to quickly view issues in order of priority and address them accordingly.
But getting your digital ducks in a row goes for reporting too. Before kicking off any type of web application testing, be sure to outline a clear scope of what’s involved, e.g. testing the website’s speed, accessibility and usability. That way you can optimise your reporting strategy so that it measures ROI in these areas. After all, how can anyone know what “success” looks like if it hasn’t been defined beforehand?
Clear objectives, time-saving tools and measurable outcomes; you’ll be surprised just how harmoniously dev and testing teams can work together when there are solid processes in place to support them.
This leads us to our next point…
#4. Stick to the plan.
We’ll keep this one short and sweet: just stick to the plan.
Sure, business priorities change – they always will. But try not to interrupt your developers and testers during a sprint.
“Why?” – you ask.
Because doing so kind of goes against the tried-and-tested principles of agile methodology that underpin it. For example, the development team might be working on a specific goal, e.g. to show top-selling products on your homepage. And although the route they take to get there might change throughout the sprint – in fact, it probably will – the end goal stays the same.
This is because the team will always commit to meeting that goal by the end of the sprint. And the product owner will promise not to alter it during the cycle – that’s why it works so well.
The good thing is, this type of development cycle is exactly what it claims to be: a sprint. So If you can hold off for two short weeks while they work on any scheduled iterations, the team can reprioritise tasks and objectives afterwards.
But if you desperately need to change the context of a user story, evaluate the cost to your team’s productivity by doing so. That way you can get a clearer picture of the risks before making the request.
Dealing with a small development team? Well, that doesn’t mean your testing community should be intimate as well. In fact, there is another way…
#5. Throw it out into the crowd
High traffic rates and heavy release schedules are a match made in hell for testers.
Because it doesn’t matter how many you have in-house, they’re unlikely to be able to achieve the work hours required to robustly test your site, let alone in such a tight deadline. This is particularly true with agile development, which leaves little to no time for effective regression testing.
However, crowd testing will give you a much greater coverage of devices and demographics. Consequently, they’ll uncover many more issues too. This community of professional testers will use a wealth of mobile devices and browser versions, creating a snapshot of your digital user interface from hundreds of different perspectives. Crucially, you’ll get this insight in a fraction of the time. Crowdtesting can effectively regression test your site overnight, giving your application the right amount of coverage before going live.
Speaking of coverage, Digivante draws on professional testers from 149 countries around the world – available around the clock. We deploy 200 crowd testers per test, resulting in 90 days’ worth of testing in just 72 hours.
To put that figure into context, that’s about a 55% cost saving compared to hiring full-time web testers; especially important to note when testing makes up between 20 to 40% of software project costs, according to TechBeacon.
Ready to engage a larger crowd? We’ve written more about the benefits of crowdsourced web testing here.
#6. Embrace new ways of working
Much like the twists and turns of an agile sprint cycle, there’s no single strategy for effective testing.
In fact, sometimes the best results can come from blending a couple of different types of testing. For example, running an exploratory test alongside your regression pack. That way, you’ll find the potential weak points and usability issues buried deep within your app or website and also be able to confirm consistent performance too.
Basically, if your current testing procedures are slowing you down – switch things up. Just keep an eye on things. Because by continuously monitoring and evaluating your web application testing strategies, you can pop the cork on any potential bottlenecks before they even arise.
Our summary of strategic testing takeaways
When it comes to web testing, beating the bottleneck’s easy. Just keep these tactics in mind:
- Prioritise test strategies at every stage of your development lifecycle – and be afraid to change tactics.
- Take the time to flesh out your user stories – it will save developers and testers time in the long run.
- Create clear objectives for testing and ask yourself what success looks like – robust reporting structures are crucial.
- Leverage the power of crowd testing – you’ll get more device and demographic coverage (and greater insights).
- Stick to the plan and don’t interrupt development cycles – doing so could cause mistakes from additional pressure and create countless more bugs for testers to find.
- Find a strategy that all of your stakeholders swear by – no easy feat we know but putting the user front-and-centre is something everybody can agree on.
OK, the uncomfortable truth is that there is only so much you can do. Your users will always demand new features – it’s a given. But that also means your organisation will want to match these escalating expectations by shortening your development lifecycles.
You’ll never be able to avoid racing towards the finish line when it comes to releases. But just save a little time in the sprint for testing – it’ll save you plenty more in the long run.
Have you got a pressing software product release you need some help testing? We have a global community of professional testers who are ready to help. Get in touch.