Friday, April 27, 2012

Rapid exploratory website testing ...

I was faced with an interesting challenge today at 12:50pm.  We have a minor project which I'm not involved directly with, and hasn't needed any testing staff.  However they've had a new supporting website produced to provide information … this had been delivered that morning - could I spend half an hour checking it out for anything "obvious".

This was an ideal opportunity to really stretch my muscles and give it a going over exploratory testing style.  I knew nothing of the website, though maybe that wouldn’t be a disadvantage, I’d evaluate it much as I could within the time allowed.

1:00pm, the link came through.

Opening the page, I began my analysis.  The site was essentially a marketing toy, telling prospective customers about a new service which was being provided, and would allow them to register an interest.  It detailed all the features which were coming, why it would make life a lot easier, as well as links to both supporting partners and associated stories about the initiative.  It also had a top menu bar which allowed you to jump to parts of the page you were interested, which dealt with a particular aspect of the new service.

Several areas had icons, which if you held your mouse over, would allow bubbles to expand, giving a more detailed graphical explanation.

Starting with the basics, I attempted to click every link, every button on the page, making sure it went to the right target.  Two of the links to supporting partners could not be selected with the left mouse button, but could with a right button click menu [Defect 1].

I tried out the webpage in Internet Explorer.  The menu bar buttons did not take you to the right part of the page at all, which was most curious [Defect 2].

I opened the website using Chrome and Firefox (the browsers I had available).  The page looked identical in all browsers.  However in these two browsers the menu bar buttons DID work as expected [Revised defect 2 with this information].

Dragged my mouse over the icons that opened graphical explanations, confirmed they made sense and didn't behave oddly if close to the browser view edge.  I did wonder why one story had two links to website when others only had one (inconsistent) [Defect 3].

Read through the website – did it make sense?  I noticed that two sentences in the same paragraph were virtually identical, and referred to supporting partners in an inconsistent manner [Defect 4].

There was a field to register interest by adding your email address.  Tried a valid email, it was accepted (good).  Tried one junk email, and got told it was invalid (good).  Tried a couple of variations of invalid emails, not all were rejected.  Noted it as a possible problem  [Defect 5].

The bottom of the page had a huge, but empty grey box which just looked messy [Defect 6].

At this point I thought I was done.  Then I had a moment of slyness.  Thinking about how the menu worked for Firefox and Chrome was a little suspicious - I know web developers tend to love working and testing out on these browsers.  Likewise, I also know how web developers love their big, high resolution screens.  So I went into my personalised settings, and dropped my screen resolution to 600 x 800.  The page now no longer fitted to the screen, and some buttons on the menu bar became mangled with some icons missing altogether [Defect 7].

I emailed my list of discoveries to the project manager.  It was 1:30pm and time for lunch.

That was testing at it’s most raw, and a lot of fun (and a nice break from the meetings and documentation of the rest of the day).  For the product, it was a perfectly pitched piece of ah-hoc testing.  I defected everything I thought could be an issue - of those, there are about 3 things which need doing (the non-selectable links, menu not working in IE and probably the behaviour in low screen resolutions), the rest are more about consistency and look, which might be equally important if there's time.

The issue with the menu bars was discovered by a BA during the same time.  But where they reported it, I managed to define it was an Internet Explorer issue, and not one on Chrome and Firefox.  This made me realise that testers are more than people who "find problems" (their BA, a very talented and smart woman did that), however being a tester, it was my nature to go further than just find the problem, but "define the problem".

A most interesting exercise for sure ...


  1. Wow. You consider yourself a professional tester, yet you're happy to have something customer facing go out the door after a 30 minute look-see with no requirements nor scripts to test against.

    Yee-haww Test Cowboy NZ

  2. @ITPro, you talk as if you are the gatekeeper, "in charge" of quality rather than informing on it. That's a position I definately don't want to be in, especially considering they were just reaching out for a bit of support. In your kind of job, I would expect you never to be confronted with this scenario, since the BA and development groups simply can't have a 1 day project blown out by a week/month simply because they wondered if major issues were present. (Thus would never reach out to you like this)

  3. Web testing is the name given to software testing that focuses on web applications.STC Technologies|STC Technologies