10 Common Errors Every Tester Should Look out For

Software quality tests are designed to validate the stability, speed, and scalability of a tested program’s characteristics. This is done in order to ensure that the program operates perfectly as expected and to establish possible areas for improvement.

Throughout my career in testing, there was one thing that became apparent to me. These quality tests aren’t always executed correctly. There are some common errors in the testing method that can lead to critical defects that require a lot of time, effort and money to fix.

What common errors make tests less likely to succeed?

In this post, I’ve compiled a list of ten of the most common errors that I have seen. Whether just starting out or having been a tester for years, I hope this list will help someone to avoid them:

1. Not planning enough

Advanced planning is essential if you want to execute your quality and performance tests successfully. Failing to make a plan before you start testing will have a negative impact on the results of your test.

Detail the various tasks that will need to be completed and the phases your testing will go through. Adhering to these planned guidelines will not only help the testing team run the tests more effectively, it will also make the process faster and more accurate.

2. Not understanding the scope and requirements of the software

It is crucial to fully understand a new product before starting to test it. Before we can try to “break” it, we need to know how the software works and what it is designed to do.

To start with a structured and sophisticated testing approach, it’s a good idea to talk to the developers who built it and read the product’s documentation to gather as much information as you can.

An important part of usability testing relates to how the end user feels while interacting with the application. To do that, we need to understand the software’s anatomy and intentions.

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3. Using an unrealistic test environment

Choosing your test environment is an important task that can require great technological and organisational effort. If the test environment is not realistic, the results will not be accurate.

We must know which users the software is intended for if we are to simulate its real-world use in our “laboratory”. Only then will we be able to see it as the end user will see it. This allows us to detect errors and launch a product with the highest quality assurance.

4. Not communicating effectively

Communication is key to software development and testing. Usually, several members of different teams (backend, frontend, program managers and QA) are involved in the testing process. It is essential to establish a culture of good communication between them.

A tester must be able to clearly communicate their impressions of a software’s performance to many different audiences. They’ll be speaking to both co-workers and end customers, and need to bear in mind that each will have different perspectives and priorities.

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5. Not documenting results

There is no point in having a perfect process for testing if we don’t properly document the results that we see along the way.

Repeating scenarios and comparing results between runs is an important activity in performance testing. This process can be extremely complicated when there are different versions, approaches, and participants involved.

In order to avoid getting lost in this process, it is absolutely necessary to keep a record of information such as the objectives of each testing phase, the exact parameters of every system, the characteristics of the test environments, and the results and conclusions of each execution phase.

6. Trying to fix the bugs yourself

The mission of a tester is to check and find faults in the use and/or appearance of a program. We should not fall into the trap of trying to do the work of the developers. They are the ones who will try to find the root causes of a problem, debug it and solve it.

7. Forgetting compatibility tests between browsers and devices

Browser cross-testing is one of the most important tasks that a tester must complete. However, it’s frequently overlooked or forgotten about.

These days, beyond the few most commonly used examples, there are hundreds of different browsers with multiple versions used all over the world. The usage ratio of these browsers varies greatly according to user demographics and devices used. Knowing a software’s target audience will help determine which browsers and devices should be tested.

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8. Not testing accessibility

Another extremely common mistake is neglecting to test a website’s accessibility. The importance of accessibility is often forgotten (and sometimes ignored) when time is short. This is especially true when referring to browser-to-browser accessibility testing.

However, accessibility should never be overlooked while testing. Websites and software should be accessible to everyone.

9. Not paying attention to a page’s loading speed

It’s vital to check the loading speed of a site across all browsers and with regular network connectivity. This is especially true of sites that require SEO optimisation. A site should load quickly into the browser. If it is too slow, it should not go into production.

The reasons may be easy to fix, such as large CSS or JS files, or unnecessary libraries that were included during early stages, but are longer required.

10. Giving up too soon

It’s tempting at some points during testing, (usually near the end of the testing phase), to give the go-ahead for the release of a product because a certain failure is not “easy to reproduce” and is requiring more time and effort than is expected or available to you. It’s imperative that we never fall to this temptation and ignore the inherent risks.

As quality testers, our desire is to offer the best possible version of a product. We cannot do this if we know that there is even a small chance that something may be wrong.

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What makes a successful tester?

Most of these errors relate to processes, however a successful test doesn’t just rely on processes, it also relies on the people doing the testing. I wanted to include a few more things that are on a more personal level. These are my three tips for how to be a successful tester:

1. Don’t fear making mistakes

A mistake is not the end of the world, it’s an opportunity to learn. It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes if you’re trying something new. Making and learning from mistakes means you’re acquiring new skills and becoming a better tester.

2. Don’t stop learning

There’s no such thing as a foolish question. If we stop asking questions, we stop learning, and stop improving our knowledge and skills. This curiosity and desire to improve is what makes the difference between good testers and the best testers.

Software testing is a huge and constantly evolving field. It’s simply impossible to know everything there is to know. Every day, we face new situations and challenges in which we will have to demonstrate that we are willing to learn and improve our skills.

3. Don’t ignore your intuition

Experience makes it easy for you to troubleshoot. You develop a kind of sixth sense for the places bugs might be hiding.

It is logical that certain errors are likely to be repeated across applications or websites that share similar characteristics. Refining and exercising this intuition will turn you into an expert “bug hunter”. With time you will even be able to anticipate and prevent issues before a program’s even built.

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In Summary

These are just a few of my simple recommendations for what to look out for if you want to conduct successful tests. A few may seem a little obvious, but sometimes the most obvious things are the easiest errors to make, no matter how much experience you have.

Do you agree with my recommendations? Share your own experiences and advice. If you’d like to know more about what you can do to avoid some of these errors, let me know. Drop a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.