What development testing is and why it's important

Courtney Dutton, 2 min read

What development testing is and why it's important

Because I work at Yarno I have a growth mindset. And because I have a growth mindset I wanted to learn more about the insides of Yarno: how those lines of code transform into a product. So, to get started, this week I had a chat to Kate Gray. Kate is Yarno's very own development tester. We started at the beginning: with what exactly development testing is:

Kate: "Testing is looking for issues in the system that can be made better."

Prevention is better than a cure. Testing is the software vaccine: you find the defects early, before any product, any feature, any single line of code goes out to the public. Before a line of code sees daylight, Kate comes in to make sure it works. Here's the (very) non-technical explanation of the actual process:  Our developers build a feature. Once completed, they push that feature into "staging". Staging is the coding half-way house: it replicates what will be pushed to the public, but it's not available to the public. Then, they let Kate loose on that code.

She tests every part of it. Trying desperately, to break the code that our developers have spent hours grinding over and tending to. She clicks through, testing every nook and cranny, every 0 and 1. She's looking for bugs. But, not just bugs as you and I think of them. Bugs aren't just glitches, or broken links. They're not even necessarily concretely problematic:

Kate: "A 'bug' in my opinion, is defined as something that doesn't work the way it should or could. Not just an issue, but something that could be made easier or more user friendly. Anywhere we could make a better user experience, or make something less challenging in any regard, not just an issue in itself."

So, as I now understand it, testing is as much about looking for actual problems in the code, as it is about putting yourself in the shoes of the user. By doing this, you work towards creating the most logical, self-service version of a product that you can. Websites don't come with instructions, you just have to jump in and figure out where to go, what to click on, by yourself. That's why, as Kate told me, testers need to be empathetic:

Kate: "I keep different members of my family in mind when I test. It's easy to take advantage of years of frequent use, and gathered experience when you're using computers. But if I take an empathetic approach and try and put my self in my mum's shoes, or my grandparent's shoes, or my brother's shoes - it's interesting. It's important to really open up that empathy spectrum for all user scenarios, not just someone who's quite similar to yourself in their computer or digital usage. The whole purpose of what we're doing is to help people. You always have to ask: how is this going to be for humans to use?"

So, when testing code, she doesn't just click through how she would if she were the one using the product. Instead, she plots out different user journeys based on different digital capabilities, in order to ensure that anyone can pick up a Yarno quiz, or head to yarno.com.au, and be able to use it. We're for everyone, after all. And you can call her Kate Gray: code breaker and user-experience enhancer.

Courtney Dutton

Courtney is the face behind the Yarno blog. She’s our fact-finding expert, Instagram connoisseur and the only person we know who can write 1500 words and fix a fence in the same half hour.

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