Every brand wants to build a product that offers a flawless user experience. But that is easier said than done. Knowing what a user needs and wants from a product is a complex process, one that is learned over a period of time. A product tester plays a big role in that journey. The role of a tester is not simply finding bugs, but delivering a glitch-free product experience. Let’s understand what a product tester precisely does for a product.
Nip the Bugs in the Bud
The primary and most obvious task of a tester is to test the software received from the development team. No matter how experienced or thorough developers are, there is always plenty left for a tester to do! Depending upon the methodology being used for development, testing of the product happens in different phases during the project.
- Waterfall Methodology: In this case, the testing takes place once after the completion of the entire product development.
- Agile Methodology: Companies using this method will test a product after every functionality is built, irrespective of its size.
Irrespective of the methodology being used, a product is expected to undergo several types of testing before it can be deemed fit for other stakeholders.
Even before the product reaches the tester, it is ideally supposed to undergo one level of testing, called unit testing. Developers are expected to conduct ‘unit tests’ where they run the product in the new environment and check for early bugs even before the formal testing phase begins.
Building Test Cases
This is where a product tester begins. Testers combine different personas and requirements to create unique test cases. Each test case is a way/scenario in which a user might engage with a feature of the product. Testers often identify scenarios/test cases that the developer didn’t even consider in the first build. Therefore, testing with test cases leads the product team to identify gaps in requirements and make changes as necessary.
After all of the test cases are identified and the product seems foolproof, it needs to be run through every possible environment. Different environments consist of variables in software, hardware or other external factors that might affect the functioning of the product. Will the app look the same on a tablet? Will it be supported by Windows phones? Each one of these variables makes a new environment and it is the job of a tester to make sure the product runs equally smoothly on any one of them.
As products mature, we add newer and newer features to them. Even if these features are independent of the older features, it is important to go back and test the sanity of old features. It is not uncommon for new developments to unintentionally affect older codes. Testers use test cases from older releases to test them and make sure the entire product is solid.
Everything we spoke of so far was to be performed manually, also known as manual testing. As the product grows mature, it can become quite challenging to physically test every button of every feature. Automated testing serves as a savior where product testers write codes that automatically run scenarios in the product and test functionalities without manual intervention. Automated testing can be immensely time-saving where there is bulk testing. However, every testing code needs to be updated with every newly identified test case.
Besides testing, a product tester also spends a large amount of time coordinating with the development team. Testers identify bugs that developers fix until they find newer bugs! The back and forth goes on. It is important to note that bugs are not always development-related. There could be a bug in graphics or a flaw in the process, that might require the product tester to communicate with other teams as well. Besides testing and communicating, a tester must spend some time exploring new tools that can help them and the company for future projects.