If you want to understand the challenge of software testing, just take a few minutes to contemplate the many ways a software application can go wrong. So many of those ways have absolutely nothing to do with the software code. External factors include:
- User error
- Hardware incompatibility
- Third-party malicious software
As unfair as it may seem, your software is still going to be held responsible for these, and other problems unrelated to whether or not you made a mistake. Often the software is a lot more expensive than the hardware. It is what defines the user interaction with the computer. If the user encounters a problem when using your software, regardless of the actual problem, your software, and by extension, you, will be the one getting the blame.
Testing software for external factors can be a daunting task. And that is above and beyond testing for the myriad of things that can and do go wrong internally with the code. This is why software testing is a major part of the development process and budget. The more mission critical the software, the greater the part testing plays in that process. Here are three broad strategies for dealing with software testing:
Many software environments are far too complex for manual testing methods to be effective. That is where advanced test automation software from major players like Tricentis enter the picture. This is not about testing your next iOS game with in-app purchases. This is about the software that powers nuclear plants and fleets of aircraft. This kind of software allows you to:
- Automate up to 95% of your test cases.
- Decrease the testing time from months, weeks to days.
- Get maximum risk coverage.
- Construct and maintain your test cases with ease.
- Identify test cases separately of the technology.
When millions of dollars are on the line and your software’s proper functioning is the difference between life and death, you can’t afford to settle for non-industrial testing methods. Whenever there is a public fiasco like healthcare.gov, you can be certain that financial corners were cut in the choice of testing methodology.
Don’t Forget the Low-end
If you are a small developer who just wants to get his game in the two major app stores, your biggest testing concern is probably just making sure your app will run on the majority of devices on a given platform. This is one of the biggest challenges for developers who want to serve both iOS and Android with the same app.
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Apple doesn’t make low-end devices. All iPhones are released as premium devices for their time. They all push the envelope of performance, and are at the upper end of the price scale. The ASP of an iPhone is $687. While the Average Android phone sells for $254. In the land of price/performance, that is an unbreachable chasm.
Making matters worse, developers tend to rank high on the geek scale, and want to have the highest-end phones they can afford. That means that a small Android development team will tend to do their testing on devices that are not representative of the average user. To a lessor degree, this can still happen on iOS, as many of those previous generation devices are still in service.
Test for Experience
Regarding high-end applications, the biggest concerns are usually, does it work, and is it secure? A delightful UX is a luxury that is often never addressed. But consumers care about user experience in ways that IT department heads don’t. A consumer will abandon a more functional app for a more fun to use app.
To maximize UX, make sure to get your app in the hands of non-professional testers. Let average people try the app. Take note of how they interact with it. Where do their thumbs naturally fall? How long does it take them to figure out how to use it and perform basic tasks? Professional testers will skew these results.
Whether designing apps for governments or grannies, the right testing method is the key to success.