The Nitty Gritty: Testing In Development
This is part 3 of my series on Rocket Jones’ 4-Stage Process. Check out Stage 1 and UX research or Stage 2 and wireframes. No time for a series? Check out a quick overview of the whole process.
Finally, it’s time to talk about development! We put tons of effort into discovery and wireframing, but now it’s time to actually start building. Because each project’s development phase can vary based on the functionality and scope, I’m not going to hash out the whole process of writing code. (However, if you have technical questions about our software, please don’t hesitate to ask.) Development is far more than computer geeks coding in a dark room; like all our Stages, Stage 3 is collaborative and recursive. Testing and corrections are vital to a project’s success.
The role of testing seems pretty simple and straightforward, right? However, it can have a pretty big impact on the overall look and feel of an application. More importantly, it can reveal logic holes and pieces of functionality that may have been overlooked or assumed during Stage 1 & 2 of the 4-Stage Process.
Sure, getting down into the nitty gritty may not be the most glamorous or fun part of the development process, but it is far from unimportant. Testing reveals issues that occur for two opposite reasons: complexity and simplicity. First, complexity. A good example is a check box. While a simple checkbox on a form may look straightforward and easy to program, there could be behind-the-scenes logic and functionality tied to it that are integral to the application. So a focused attention to detail and thorough understanding of the intended function of the application are important to maintain throughout the testing process.
Second, simplicity. We do our best to listen, discover and understand the needs that your application has to address, but in the simple details such as a checkbox there may be a pretty large piece of functionality that is overlooked due to the uncomplicated nature of the item. Occasionally feedback from the testing process can drive further discovery and discussion missed or assumed during Stage 1 & 2. So we approach testing with a very serious and meticulous eye to ensure that what we deliver is exactly what you envisioned and we discussed in the first two stages of the process.
Testing also helps us envision every possible scenario. A fun portion of the testing process is purposely attempting to “break” the application or user flow, whether by entering an inordinate amount of text in a simple input field, uploading incorrect file types throughout the application, adding several users and then attempting to reregister the same users, clicking the back and forward browser buttons repeatedly to break a Post or Get request, or whatever other inventive means of sabotage we can dream up. We do our best to vet errors and bugs due to improper usage or programmatic error so your end users don’t have to.
Once we’ve run through testing a few times to shake out and address any major discrepancies, we circle back with a slower, more fastidious approach to really iron out the process and ensure a smooth, cohesive experience for your end users, as well as a polished, useable control area for you and your team. This means opening every drop-down menu, clicking every checkbox and radio button, highlighting and following every navigation item, entering and formatting multiple lines of text in every input field and so on.
Identifying errors isn’t the goal, however. The goal is fixing the errors so the application functions seamlessly, allowing you to focus on the tasks without worrying about the little things. Our developers are all in-house, so error correction happens quickly and efficiently. The tester and developer can go through screens in person, instead of emailing or trying to video chat in different time zones. This gives us a shorter timeline and keeps the project moving towards launch. At Rocket Jones we really care about delivering the best product to allow you to focus on what you do best, so we take testing very seriously.
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