Sunday, September 21, 2014

Back to basics 2a: Did you know what I missed yet? Browsers!

You can find the "game rules" for this series here.

Yesterday I was posting a series of ideas for testing a registration page.  In my head there was a really important area though that I missed.

I've been tempted to just go back an update the page, but I do like the idea of just admitting to being in a rush and missing it.  Because even with experience, we're not infallible as testers, and under deadline pressures we can end up in a rush and miss something (in my case, my son wanted to do some World Of Tanks on the laptop).

There is actually one heuristic that's missing from Elisabeth Hendrickson's cheat sheet, and it gives an indication of the age of that sheet (2006 was when it was last updated).

Device/browser heuristic

Yup - back in 2006, IE was the dominant browser, and there was a wee upstart browser called Firefox which a lot of geeks raved about.  But generally it wasn't considered to be too important or mainstream.

Welcome to 2014 - we have a host of browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari.  And we still have IE, but which version is important - IE6?, IE11?, every possible version?

Do we need to test on Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista?  Do we need to test on Apple and Linux machines?

And that's not even going into mobile devices or tablets?  Are we going to choose out a few versions of iOS or Android which are important?

I covered some aspects of pure PC browser testing here and here in 2013, which are useful places to get a feel for some of the measures.  But even then I didn't cover web testing on mobile devices which themselves have their own complications - the biggest of which being it's free to install a new browser on your machine, but if you need to test on a mobile device, then you have to justify the purchase of the device for testing or else see if you can bring in a mobile specialist.

The best thing to do is to work out which are the most currently popular devices out there - even better, ask marketing for what their target market is.  Don't trust to devices you have in your testing pool to be representative of your market!  [And that market pretty much changes every time Apple makes an announcement]  A good place to look through is Synapse Mobile who have links to what are the most popular mobile device platforms at present.

I never got to meet him, but when I lived in Farnborough, Stephen Janaway was just down the road from me testing for Nokia, and he has some excellent insights into mobile testing.  One of his pieces on building a testing lab of mobiles is here.

As discussed back last year, what you're looking for when you're cross-browser testing (considering you've narrowed down your mobile and browser options to a suite to test on) is,

  • Are all my fields present?
  • Can I enter data/select items as expected?
  • Is information displayed to me consistently?
  • Does it look ugly and unusable?  Sometimes alignment can be all over the place, and it makes the screen look ugly.  And something that's ugly often undermines trust in the legitimacy of the website.
  • How does the screen look on different resolution settings?
  • How does the screen look on maximum vs resize of the browser?  Or when I minimise the page?
  • Does the description of the page on the tab bar make sense?
  • What happens if I use the back/forward/refresh buttons?
  • Do all error messages get displayed appropriately?
Playing around with mobile browsers, several interesting additional areas I've found are,
  • What happens if I click a drop down box?  Apple and Android have their own built in methods for dealing with these, and sometimes it can't handle drop down boxes with large amounts of text well.
  • How does the mobile browser handle being turned sideways from landscape to portrait and back again during an operation?
  • How useable is the keyboard in landscape and portrait mode?
  • Apple and Android don't really have pop-up boxes.  Does your system have any?  How does it handle them?

Most of these test ideas will of course apply not just to the registration but all the pages ongoing!

Below are the collected stats for my blog ... from which if I was testing this blog (and I do regularly reread for quality control) I would develop a strategy to use the most compelling examples used by my audience.

As you can see from the statistics, for my readers Chrome is king (but only just) over Firefox.  It also makes sense to occasionally check how my blog looks on IE, and maybe once in a while Safari.

Meanwhile for devices, my Windows and Linux machines could be put to good use.  But I suppose I ought to get a MacBook at some point - if you'd like to gift me one, I promise to quality control using it regularly!

Meanwhile to the 3 of you out there using BlackBerry, I kind of admire your retro-spunk!  Go you!


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