By Kayleigh Oliver May 17, 2017

Why Testing Could Be the Most Important Stage When Developing

Testing is an area of development where, at different stages of the development cycle, the product or service to be tested is measured against set criteria. These criteria check that the product or service fulfills the original spec, goal, or intended use.

Testing can be carried out manually by individuals, or automatically by computer systems. If a feature fails testing, it needs to be reworked, then retested.

Features fail testing when the actual results of tests don’t match up with the expected outcomes. The more safety-critical the system under test, the more important it is to adhere to a well-defined approach to testing.

However, just because your system doesn’t carry health or safety risks, doesn’t mean you should skimp on professional test efforts. Your end user invests their money and precious time into your product, so it’s up to you to deliver the most robust version possible.

Why “Any Old” Testing Won’t Do

The general view of testers on projects has improved considerably in the last 10 years, as the testing role has become more technical. But besides being technically skilled, great testers are highly analytical, methodical, logical, and thorough; they are investigative by nature and good communicators.

Especially in the case of video games testing, those external to the industry and field underestimate the skills needed to test projects. Because games are seen as recreational activities, those outside of the games industry assume a tester’s job is to play games all day. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Although games testing may not employ more technical types of testing, such as automated, performance, load, or security testing, good games testers use multiple other skills to help them solve problems.

For example, on one game project I tested, I had to perform graphical checks on an area. The area was divided into squares, but the boundaries of that square weren’t visible. I could only check where I was by inputting a command. So I wrote a small script to help me perform the checks. I set the square coordinates to test so that whenever I moved out of the area, the on-screen character would shout, alerting me I had gone too far. This type of thinking—finding ways to ensure your task gets done more effectively—is what professional testing can provide.

Professional testing takes into account different test techniques and strategies. For example, test techniques can be reactive or proactive. Reactive testing aims to quickly resolve defects as they happen, to ensure the minimum negative impact on customers. Proactive techniques aim to implement testing as early on in development as possible, in order to catch and fix bugs before they become a problem.

Another test strategy could be one using risk-based testing. This is where the approach of the project is determined by the level of risk that could occur.

What makes these test strategies professional is that they are known about and intentionally used in a project. Sure, a non-professional tester could also decide to plan out their test cases based on the impact of the project, but they wouldn’t necessarily be aware of why that would be better than other approaches, or that it even is a test approach.

Professional testing will:

  • Increase the quality of your product
  • Decrease the likelihood of production bugs
  • Increase the likelihood bugs will be caught in pre-production environments

Good testing ensures that the number of defects your target audience comes across is very low.

Professional testers, developers, and even those on the product team know testing should occur throughout the development lifecycle. This constant review ensures that critical and major bugs are caught early on, when they are cheapest to fix.

It’s Wise to Invest in Great Testing Resources

Investing in great resources may mean investing in great tools or people.

Putting your money into people, whether that’s offering a salary that will attract more experienced candidates, increasing the salary, or offering training to your currently employed testers, is worthwhile. When people are shown respect and given chances to excel, they give back with dedication, loyalty, and hard work.

Providing the proper tools to help support your team to uphold the quality of testing is also a good idea. There’s no point in having a great team if they will be limited by their tools. I know there are lots of great free and open source tools out there (like Selenium and NUnit), but sometimes spending that little bit more can move you forward tremendously.

Testing is the Gatekeeper of Quality

The buck stops with testing. The people on the testing team need to know their part to play and that they sign off on the level of quality with which the product ships. Your team needs to understand that the quality of the brand is determined by the product that is shipped and not by what it was intended to be. The time and money a customer invests in your project should be paid back by making sure you release only the highest quality product.

Your Efforts are in the Public eye

The public doesn’t know about the difference between the waterfall and agile development life cycles, or other technical strategies. You may have testing efforts taking place throughout your entire development cycle, but this will be known only to your team.

The public and your customers are probably aware, however, that products have testers. So if products ship with bugs, they are likely to blame the testing effort over anything else.

Testing Helps Uphold Brand Image

Having a high-quality product is beneficial to any brand. It suggests a commitment to quality throughout your processes and company, whether a high level of quality is specifically spelled out within your brand guidelines or not.

Your brand image is fragile. Negative press from a buggy product can shatter your solid, high-quality image in a much shorter time than it took to build. For example, as much as I love Windows and Visual Studio, historically, Microsoft is known to release buggy software. I know people who update to the latest major version of Windows only after the first patch is released, because they don’t want to deal with the inevitable bugs that will unfold (I must say that since Windows 10 and the release of Visual Studio 2017, Microsoft’s image has improved, at least in my perception).

Rebuilding your brand’s image will take twice as long and be twice as hard if you let it slip.

Make Time and Budget for Good Testing

The quality of a product is determined by a lot of factors. A quality experience is created not only by the design, user experience, and functionality of a product, but by the amount of bugs users don’t encounter. Bugs hinder users’ progress and give them a bad experience with your product.

Basic testing can be done by anyone, but professional testing is needed to ensure a high level of quality, which will in turn uphold your brand’s image. Don’t skimp on testing with your project; it could be your downfall!

About the author

    Kayleigh Oliver

    Kayleigh leads the battle against bugs at Immerse.io and is an app developer with a keen interest in building cross-platform solutions. Kayleigh shares what she's currently learning and doing on her blog kayleigholiver.com. The best way to get in contact is via email or Twitter @kayleigholiver.