13 November 2014

Exercise: Critical thinking in software testing

It's a hectic period right now (which explains the lack of presence on Twitter, email, the blog and everything else basically) and that will probably continue for the foreseeable future. But in the middle of this I would like to share an exercise I gave my students. Oh, I'm the teacher for a software testing education these days, in case you didn't know:
  1. Pick a page (for this exercise, preferably a simple one).
  2. Just looking at it: Form as many questions as you can think of.
    (to save yourself some time, just write down what you find potentially relevant)
  3. Try to answer the questions formed, don't forget to use the rule of three*
* If you can’t think of three things that might go wrong with your plans, then there’s something wrong with your thinking. // Gerald Weinberg

So what's the goal? To practice critical thinking, to spark curiosity, to find a way forward when stuck/find different perspectives, to reveal important questions and to generate ideas for improvements. May sound a bit silly but give it shot!

Example of the "forming questions" part (Square - Login form):
  • What does the logo communicate? Is it representative for the company? What else could be representable? What other locations of the logo would make sense?
  • Why is it so minimalistic? Is there a specific reason? What options exist?
  • What if the logo was bigger? WHat if everything was bigger?
  • Could the sign in box's bright color be a problem on a bad monitor?
  • What options are there to the text "sign in" in the sign in box header?
  • Are the textbox placeholders HTML5? If so, how will the page work in a browser not supporting HTML5? If not HTML5 placeholders, how will it handle autofill by the browser? Risk of label overlap?
  • What if the "header bar" (saying "sign in") was darker? What colors could be suitable?
  • Is email a good choice for "identifier" (compared to e.g. username)?
  • Password is obscured, why not do the same for email?
  • The logo is not clickable, should it be?
  • How do you get back to the start page?
  • What options are there to the text "Forgot password?"?
  • The text on the sign in button is a bit blurry, would a different font help? Size? Text weight? Color?
  • What's the reason for the choice of languages?
  • What's the difference between English and Canadian english?
  • What's the purpose for the bright logo just beneath the language link?
  • Why can't you tab your way to the language link? Could that be a problem?
  • Any options to the language link (e.g. a flag)?
  • What other fonts could be considered?
  • Is it clear what page you're on (Square)?
  • Is an account free to register? Should this be stated somehow?
  • How will the page signal an incorrect email/password?
  • There's no copyright information, could this be a problem?
  • There's no footer at all, any typical footer information missing?
  • ...
If not clear: This is described as an exercise but the principle, of forming a ton of questions to get you forward when stuck, get a new perspective etc. is perfectly valid whenever you're testing (as many before me have stated, not in any way taking credit for that one :)

Good luck!

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